Monday, September 27, 2010

Go Barking

This idea may just save your sanity. Here in Dunedin it's that time of year many working parents dread: The primary school holidays. Don't get me wrong, parenthood is a blessing and young Miss C is an intelligent, sensitive and well behaved child - most of the time. It's just that during the holidays she expects Mrs C and I to work like cruise ship entertainment directors.

Thankfully the huge spring storm we've had to endure for the last two weeks seems to be abating so yesterday we all went to the botanic gardens for a walk and a picnic. Instead of the usual watching from the bench as Miss C runs amok on the playground equipment, or towing her around on the flying fox, I managed to convince her that some plant photography would be fun. What sold the deal was that since I'm so tooled up with DSLR's, I'd let her use my old Fuji S5600 ultra zoom.

Young Miss C

After a brief talk about keeping it on the auto or program settings (I try to remember that despite her sophisticated put downs and masterful manipulation of me and her mother, she is only 6), we set about getting a few shots. To be honest, she still needs to learn to hold the camera steady and develop her eye but for me, the exercise underscored the idea of keeping your plan simple when you go out to shoot if you want a result.

Shooting whatever you find moves you is fine - I'm often moved by my subconscious to capture something and I'll figure out what it is on the bench later, but just so we didn't end up with random stuff that wouldn't give her a little creative buzz later on, I tried to get her to shoot different tree barks. Nice idea, unfortunately it was way too restrictive for this free-spirited six year old; she was still fixated on running amok in the playground and kept to her random shooting plan. She's not big on composition yet, but I do know that like me, she's attracted by saturated colour. Here's one of her shots. While she has a little to learn about graphic form and off-camera lighting, I so get where she's coming from with this:


Anyway, I decided to go through with the idea and make a little triptych.  I'm surprised it was so easy to make something nice. Now that she's seen it, she says she gets where I'm coming from, and might give it a go on another of our holiday photo expeditions.  Or she might just shoot birds. You just don't know. Her unshakeable faith that she knows everything and that I really don't - well, it could be a mark of young genius. Or it could just mean that she's a little girl.

  bark triptych

If you've a kid you might like to try setting yourselves a little assignment like this. If you do, I'd love to see your results. I know it's fun and you might both learn to see something new. I always do.

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