Pondering the possibilities
Laval, QC, August 2010
About these photos: Our Thematic Photographic theme this week is kids. You don't need to have little ones of your own to take part. Just follow your mouse here and dive in.Something funny happens whenever I shoot sunsets: One of our kids inevitably wanders by and becomes part of the story. On this night, our youngest, Noah, joined in. And since I had a second camera handy - actually, it's my wife's, but please don't tell her I scaffed it yet again - it was a bit of a no-brainer to plop it into his hands and let him loose.
Technically, this is a tough time of day for a 10-year-old to learn the ins and outs of photography. The combination of a tiny spot of blinding sun and a much broader swath of fading-light sky makes even experienced photographers shudder. It's a dynamic range nightmare for which I still have no answers.
As I set the camera on auto and gave it to him, I knew the results would be questionable. But that wasn't the point. So as he happily composed and squeezed off each shot, we bantered about how much fun it would be to have this kind of view every night, and how we'd probably never get tired of coming out on the balcony and taking pictures.
Already I can tell he gets it. His pictures ended up quite blurry. But instead of being upset, he thought they looked interesting, the kinds of pictures no one else would take. As I listened to him critique his own work on the tiny camera display, I smiled, outside and in. Here I had been worried about his pursuit of perfection when in fact he cared more about being unique.
The technical perfection thing will come. His hands will become steadier. He'll learn the small tricks of low/lower-light photography. He'll become comfortable toggling out of auto mode and dialing in his own settings. His hit rate will go up.
But for now, he's happy to explore on his own terms. And that's a great place to be. He needs to learn that mistakes are part of the learning process, and instead of deleting them outright, we may want to keep them around to remind us of our journey. And as he continues his own journey into the future, I hope we have countless more sunsets together, and I hope he'll always want to wander onto the balcony for a shoot with his dad.
Your turn: Why is perfection overrated?