I love photography and when I have human subjects, I almost never tire of the challenge of getting good photos—those that show their personality, their energy, their connections. Even the most reticent preschooler or “my wife is making me do this”-dad is a challenge that I want to take on!
What was I thinking when, on January 1, I made a commitment to a 365-day-photo-challenge? At first there were fun things like snow and freezing weather with bubble experiments to photograph. But then came the rain and the gloom of February. No one is asking to have pictures taken on days that seem to promise more rain and, until this week, more chilly weather.
In spite of these would-be barriers, I have pushed through, and each day has brought something that I have found photo-worthy. But, as I looked at some of my favorite photographs from the past week (prior to our current spring-like weather), I had a sudden ah-ha moment. Many, if not all, of the subjects I photographed required some searching on my part, some intentional seeking of beauty. From a distance—from the vantage point of my sun room—they would not have been visible. I could have concluded that it’s winter, things are grey and gloomy, and I might as well give up on this 365-day-challenge.
When I left the sun room, camera around my neck and eyes wide open, I got closer to those mahonia shrubs and found their blossoms were home to bees and ladybugs. With my macro lens I was able to see details that I had not observed before.
Yes the yard was generally dead and without color. But, on closer inspection, I found tiny buds and tiny hyacinths, a few brave daffodils, and amazing seed pods. When we get close enough and when we have a great enough desire, it is possible to find intricate, colorful, and unique objects of beauty hidden among the dreary gloom of everyday life.
And that was my “ah-ha!” moment. What if I were as intent on finding beauty in people? What if I were as willing to invest my time and my knowledge and to get close enough to discover that an other-wise ordinary person is not so ordinary after all? What a beautiful world it would be!
I picked up the grandkids from WeekDay today with anticipation in my heart! I was looking forward to a cookie/milk break and making play dough. As I unloaded groceries, Jack and MH decided to explore the back of the van. They were having lots of fun hiding and “imagining” so, of course, I ran inside to grab my camera. Spur of the moment, serendipitous opportunity to catch these sweet faces.
Later, inside while I made playdough, they showed no interest in snack time; rather, MH found some Tow Mater tow trucks that change color when dipped in warm or cold water. I set up a couple of bowls in the sink, Mary Hollis dragged up a stool, and she was happy, along with Jack who joined the fun, for the next thirty minutes or so. No interest in my play dough!
As a child of the 50’s, I remember those playtimes when I could be creative and imagine and do what I wanted to do. For me, an only child, they were often time with just me. But I made so many happy memories with modeling clay, paper dolls, and little red vinyl 45 rpm records.
Children need time to just play. Toys or organized events don’t have to be the main thing. They do need parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles who quietly keep an eye on them while letting them enjoy the “little things.”
The playdough may have to wait for another day. And I have to go finish a hide-n-seek game!
I knew when I first saw Tabitha and her almost three-year-old at my granddaughter's weekday school that I wanted to try to capture their beauty, love, and connection. And, I'm not shy, so I asked if we could set up a session. A beautiful day finally came, and we got together. Tabitha chose a perfect wardrobe for the two of them, the light was perfect, but. . .Little One started out in a not-so-perfect mood due to having been awakened from her nap too soon.
It was an opportunity for me to practice patience and wait and watch for those quick smiles. By the end of the session, we had more photos than we needed! I loved getting to know this amazing young mother and her daughter. I hope they will treasure these photos when K is much older as a reminder of a special day in the life of one about to turn three. Happy birthday, K, and enjoy your princess party next week!
Today is 100 days of school for my grandson. Last night his mother posted pictures on FB of him and his 100 Crayola crayons that he was counting and packing to take to preschool today. So, when he arrived at my house and sat down for breakfast, I asked him if he could count to 100 for me. Of course he could! What joy Papaw and I had as we watched his face as he got closer and closer to the magic "100". It was one of those moments I wanted to freeze and keep forever.
Parents and grandparents of any age child, but especially preschoolers, experience those feelings of wanting to hang on to every precious moment and to never forget the expressions, the activities, and the joy of being a child. My own three children grew up in the 70's and 80's before digital cameras and cell phones that make it so easy to snap a picture. My relatively sparse collection of their childhood photographs does not adequately capture all their cute moments, their awkward phases, their relationships with toys, pets, friends, and each other.
Being a grandparent has given me a "do-over" experience--not with my own children, but with my grandchildren. Although I don't see the older two very often, they know that when Lottie arrives, so does her camera, and so do her expectations of taking loads of pictures! The younger two, who are at my house multiple times a week, are becoming pros at this: "Look, Lottie, here is a pocket of light!" "Lottie, I see a bird in your yard!" "Lottie, I want to take a picture!" I'm blessed to be able to document their childhood and add my memories to those of their parents.
Today, I was reminded through Jack of his Uncle Matt when he was the same age, of his love of lining up toys (usually little cars, but also the same soldiers Jack was playing with). I'm counting the memories as Jack and I count dinosaurs and Indians and soldiers and crayons. Joyful day!