Traveling and photography are a closely married pair for me. Whenever I travel, it’s with a passport in one hand and a camera in the other. I am desperate to try to capture on film what I hope will be etched into my memory forever. My photographs are my traveling touchstone and just a simple look at a well planned photo can instantly take me back to the sights, sounds, and moments of a particular locale.
As a traveling family, we have dabbled with letting our kids join us in the photojournalism of our explorations. They’ve all held a camera and taken some pictures at some point or another. Circumstances, like the fact that they seem to be covered in goo and losing everything they own, have dictated that they don’t really have a good camera. Maybe that’s the reason they haven’t found fulfillment in taking photos. Lousy photos from a cheesy camera don’t really inspire artistic exploration. When my son was approaching his 13th birthday (a teenager, people!), he asked for a camera of his own. The parental units of the family decided that 13 was a good age to give a little responsibility and so we gave him his first real camera. When he opened the gift, he was underwhelmed. Teenagers seem to have underwhelment down to an art, so I held my breath and waited for the first opportunity for him to actually use the camera.
That opportunity came at the Chinese Lantern Festival in Fair Park. As a staunchly confirmed reluctant traveler, this child has perfected the feet dragging, eye rolling, sigh fest whenever he has to go somewhere that doesn’t meet with his approval. This outing would be exactly the same as all the others except this time he was armed with his new grownup style camera, and maybe just a little tiny bit of maturity.
~Anchoring the shot with some interest in the foreground~
That camera in his hand was like the silk hat on Frosty the Snowman’s head. He snapped a few tentative shots and then he just came alive. He was stooping to get the right angle, running ahead to capture the perfect shot, and reframing his work to achieve the perfect balance. Not once did he dart “I’m so bored I want to gouge out my eyeballs” glances in my direction. No, he was far too busy perfecting his craft. I stole a few glances at his viewfinder and was pretty impressed, but when I saw the shots on my computer, I was blown away. Of course, he has much to learn and many ways to improve, but he certainly has a natural talent for composition that will serve him well (that’s my boy!)
~Playing with Reflections~
As beautiful as the pictures are as photographs, the greater beauty in them is the memory of watching my reluctant son spring to life with the right tool in his hand. If I had known that the right camera would have created such an enthusiastic adventurer, I would have taken my chances with the possibility that immaturity would have destroyed it years ago. As it is, I hope his camera helps him to explore the world in new and non-exasperated ways. As he said last night “Everything looks different through the camera. It’s like you can see things you never saw before.” I know exactly what you mean, son.