Get Off the Green Box

Green Box 600px wide

My husband isn’t the best when it comes to buying gifts.  Sometimes I’m lucky just to get a card.  Other times he figures he’ll get me something practical, like a vacuum cleaner or a mixer.  Here’s a tip for you guys out there:  unless your lady is excited as all get-out about a household appliance, you’re better off not getting her one for Christmas (no matter how good the Black Friday or Cyber Monday deal is).  We of the female persuasion might take offense to the idea that you’re hinting we need to do even more housework.

But, this year for my birthday…wow, did my guy wow me!  I have done some photography in the past, have always had an affinity for it, and had been saving up for a nice digital SLR camera.  One with all the bells and whistles.  One that lets me push the buttons and turn the controls to get a truly unique photo.

And, on my birthday this year, my loving husband surprised me with exactly what I had been dreaming of:  a beautiful Canon in a neat sling pack, all decked out and ready for me to take it on some photo shooting adventures.  Along with it came a really thick owner’s manual and a whole lot of figures and digits and buttons and dials.  Just what I’d been wanting, right?  The problem was, I was so confused by all of it that I just turned the camera to the green “Auto” selection and started shooting.

I knew there was more.  That sleek little Canon and I could make beautiful pictures together…of this I was certain.  I just wasn’t sure how to get off of “Auto”.  So I enrolled in a photography class.  This past Tuesday was our first meeting.  Our instructor repeated one phrase several times throughout the two hours:

Get off the green box.

The little green box with the “A” in the middle of it.  Automatic shooting mode.  Everything is calculated according to some formula so you just have to point and shoot.  Easy, thoughtless, effortless.  Putting the camera on manual mode and deciphering settings takes work.  Practice.  Creativity.  Skills.

As that two-hour class went on, I learned how to work together with my camera to experiment, play, and test the boundaries.  I learned I didn’t have to use that green box any more.  I just have to give myself permission to fail.  It’s okay.  Try a lot of things, many different settings.  Experiment.  Many of the photos will be average, obvious deletions, just so-so.  But one or two of the pictures will be epic.  Brilliant.  And, with practice, more and more of the shots I take will reach the pinnacle.

How many of us live our lives on the green box?  Put ourselves on autopilot as we go about our days?  Do the same thing at the same time every day, just because that’s what we’re used to?  We don’t spare the energy or thought to do something different, learn something new, or take chances.  How many of us employ the same philosophy with our social media?  Always playing it safe, putting out posts that look like everyone else’s, taking our cues from what others are doing?

Here’s a challenge for you:  Get off the green box!  Live your life on purpose.  Consciously do something every day that is outside of your norm.  Take chances and use a little energy and creativity to try something different.  Be true to your character and your morals and reflect that in the content you send out.  Don’t be afraid to play around with the tools you have available.  Keep practicing and don’t be afraid to fail every once in awhile.  The end result just might be epic.

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