When in Doubt, Carpe Diem (or if you're under 25, YOLO)
As I have entered middle age and have survived my share of life’s trials and tribulations, I have realized that it is important just to act and not spend all my time ruminating about things. Seize the moment! Just make the best decision you can at the time and move on, with as little regret or second-thought as possible. How does this apply to montages? I submit that your kids are never too young or old to do something priceless that must be captured and kept as a memory. Maybe not every picture you take will prove to be montage-worthy, but it’s worth taking the picture, saving it, and many years down the road it may just turn out to be the perfect shot for the segment in the montage. A prime example: Who knew that the adorable flower girl and ring bearer at one wedding would grow up in 20 years to become the bride and groom in another. ( http://www.cnn.com/2015/01/12/living/flower-girl-ring-bearer-wedding/index.html ) The photo of the two events juxtaposed is off the charts cute and totally priceless. You never know which photos will turn out to be the real money shots but if you don’t snap the photos—carpe diem style—there’s no way to know until it’s too late.
There's No Such Thing as Too Much Media or You Can't Be Too Rich, Too Thin or Have Too Many (Digital) Photos
OK—I actually DON’T subscribe to the Ayn Rand philosophy of you can’t be too rich, and it’s certainly possible to be too thin. But the third thing—you can’t have too many photos—is a genuine given. Why? Because in the digital era, it is entirely possible to save every photo you have ever taken on external hard drives or DVD’s and barely take up any space or collect any dust. Therefore, I believe that a corollary to the “carpe diem” rule of photography/videography is that you should save the footage indefinitely. Why not? If you take the money shot at the first wedding of the flower girl looking at the cute ring bearer but don’t save it—imagine the regret when you can’t reenact the pose on their wedding day!
The Sooner You Start Organizing, The Better
There is no clever way to say this. Organizing your stuff or life doesn’t get any easier over time so stop procrastinating and get to work with a plan of action. Once you have a system in place, it is so much easier and you’ll wonder why you waited so long. With respect to your photo collection, pick an app or online service that you like and that seems user-friendly (I love iPhoto but not everyone has a Mac), and work on getting all your photos into categories (called “events” on iPhoto). Keep up with the system as your photo collection grows and consider breaking down your photo library into smaller libraries so that it is more manageable to look through your collection when working on a project. (One thing to keep in mind when doing this is that if you have already created albums to help organize, iPhoto will not maintain the album across libraries and will unceremoniously “delete” the photos moved to the new library. I learned this the hard way, by the way.)
Stop and Listen to the Lyrics
This is kind of like the expression “Stop and Smell the Coffee (or Roses—take your pick).” It’s good advice to avoid life passing you by while you’re focused on other things. The harder it is to do (let’s say there’s something very troubling going on in your life, making you obsess over past mistakes or future potential apocalypses), the more important it is to try to do it anyway, for your mental health and sanity. I like thinking about this in the context of listening to music. Some people only listen to the melody of a song, while others become engrossed in the song’s lyrics and meaning. I think you can’t truly enjoy a song without listening to the words because to me a song is a really a musical poem. By becoming engrossed in a song’s lyrics, I find listening to music to be a truly relaxing endeavor, even if the melody is actually pretty frenetic. And incidentally, learning the words to a lot of songs comes in handy when you are trying to pick the perfect one to go with a montage segment.
The Early Bird Catches the (Ear)worm
The earlier you start thinking about and planning for something in the future—let’s say the montage you know is going to happen at some point—the better. Why? Once you have awareness of something, you can passively go to work on it and it will be better than if you just throw something together on the fly. I personally do my best work when I’m not completely under pressure. Earworms (those catchy songs that keep playing on a loop in your mind) aren’t all bad in my view. Let’s say I have that song kind of running in the back of my mind and all of a sudden I have the perfect plan on how to handle it in the segment. I used to work on my legal briefs like that too. I can’t tell you how many times I’d come up with the winning points when I was in the shower or walking the dog or driving somewhere. I do the same thing now but I think about photos, video clips, and songs instead of facts, cases and arguments.
It Won't Go to Waste or Assume Someone Will See It Someday
It is a major temptation when you have your first child to want to capture every moment on video. It is just as easy to at some point say to yourself, “Why am I doing this? No one’s ever going to watch all this.” I’m here to tell you—go with that first instinct bred of euphoria, and not the more cynical voice in your head. You just never know what you’re going to capture when the camera is always rolling. It’s like a documentarian that is trying to capture as much footage as possible. The editing can wait for another time. One of my favorite moments in the montage I did for my own kids’ b’nai mitzvah was when my husband was recording a quiet moment with our firstborn baby. My newborn son and I were wearing matching nightgowns (don’t judge) and I spontaneously said to my off-camera husband, “Is this the greatest kid in the whole world or what?” To which he responded, “I couldn’t agree with you more.” What a way to end the segment that was all about a brand-new firstborn child and grandchild – that sentiment, found in the midst of hours of footage, and captured in a quiet, spontaneous moment by my husband was not only seen and enjoyed by me, but by all of the guests at our party!