Motivation is a photography blog that discusses the creative aspects of photography. The posts will include thoughts about images and their interpretation, photographers and their work, technique, workflow, my ongoing projects, and perhaps even the occasional off topic rant.

Unencumbered By The Gravity Of It All

I’m not talking about the force that keeps us tethered to the ground. I’m talking about gravity, as in seriousness.

Let me explain. Usually when I go out to photograph it is a very serious undertaking indeed. I get up quite early to shoot in the ‘good light’ and take a backpack of equipment carefully chosen based on where I plan on going and what I am hoping to try to make images of. For the most part, all of my ‘serious’ photographs are made with a tripod that is placed after careful deliberation and experimentation. I usually go out alone, as I don’t know all that many people that are into photography.

I had a very different experience a few days ago, which, in many ways, was like a breath of fresh air.

I have always hoped that perhaps one of my three children would develop an interest in either nature or photography so that as I, and they, get older, we might enjoy going on photographic trips, or at least hiking, together. Well, so far it sure isn’t happening, at least not yet and at least not with the two older ones.

So I decided the time was ripe to give my seven year old daughter a try. I have several waterfall pictures hanging in my home, and she has drawn crayon pictures of me taking photographs of the waterfalls. Several times in the past, I had asked her if she wanted to go with me to where I take these pictures and see the real waterfall, but she has always said no. Well, on this particular day, she had no friends over and I told her that if we went not only would we see waterfalls, but we could both take little point and shoot cameras and she could take her very own pictures of the falls. Reluctantly, she agreed.

In a moment, I will tell you how she liked it, but first let me get to the real reason I am writing this. I wanted to take her because I wanted to see the happiness on her face at seeing her first real waterfall and to give her the opportunity to take her own photographs. In my mind, the only reason I was bringing a point and shoot camera was to take pictures of my daughter. From the standpoint of taking any photographs of the park……well, the camera was small and cheap, the light was terrible with direct, harsh, overhead sun, and I had photographed this particular area so many times I was sure that there would be nothing that I would find particularly interesting photographically.

Just The Two Of Us

Yes, I took plenty of quick snaps of my daughter. But something else also happened. Walking around with just a little camera at the absolute wrong time of day was, well maybe exhilarating is too strong a word, but it was really fun. Maybe it was because I felt like I didn’t have to try to find nice shots. Maybe I didn’t even make any nice shots….but the point is that I didn’t care. The light was bright and harsh…….fine, I saw some harsh shadows that were nice to take some shots of. Everywhere I looked I started seeing things that I could just take some quick shots of to see if it ‘worked’. I even decided to tuck away a number of ideas that I had for when I did come back with a ‘serious’ camera. There was something uplifting and freewheeling about just going at the wrong time and trying to make ‘lemonade out of lemons’. I am starting to think that going out in this fashion might actually be very beneficial at those times when one seems to hit a creative ‘brick wall’ and nothing seems to flow. I am going to give it a try the next time I am in that dreaded zone. It certainly couldn’t hurt.

Hanging On

Oh, and by the way, my daughter had a great time and wants to go back. I don’t know if she will develop a love of photography and be my ‘photo buddy’ or not….…but here is the devious trick I used to try to bring her one step closer to making that happen. Several times she would stop and ask, “Dad, is it OK if I take a picture of that?” To which I replied, “Sure you can. You can take pictures of anything you want. That is one of the really nice things about photography…...there are no rules!” Hopefully, music to a child’s ears. I will report back in ten years and let you know whether or not it worked!