Earlier this week I was out photographing with a new student – my 7 year old grandson, Theo. He had told his mother he was “in a mood to take pictures”, probably because he’s seen both his Mom and me taking pictures at many times and places. Our daughter dropped him at our place for the day, and so, upon being informed that Theo would like to “go take pictures”, I gave him my old iPhone 4s and off we went.
After Theo was done shooting a couple dozen shots of the yard, we wandered out back and he spotted our little patch of chives, peas and squash growing in our back gardens. He took the appropriate version of a photo of the chives, lying down as only a 7 year old would, and as he did that I thought “how interesting, he automatically went for that low view.”
It got me thinking and so I took a couple photos of the same chives by looking almost straight down. Theo looked at the image and commented on how “cool” it was – and we got into a discussion about abstract photography. I told him Abstract photography is difficult to define. It is taking a subject and forcing the viewer to look at it in a different way. That led into another discussion on perspective, and pretty soon he was lying down on the ground taking a photo along a small bridge we have on our path to the lower field and then an image shot up the back of my shirt which is half sky and half shirt. A pair of deer were in the lower field and Theo got a blurry image of the last one as it ran away – white tail flashing. The picture doesn’t show much, but he was thrilled and he’ll remember the day we saw the two deer on our walk together.
The thing that amazed me is how quickly young people pick up concepts when they can be instantly applied to an art form. Last summer Theo had been with me as I was doing my first Cyanograph, and he and his grandmother and mother got to play with the process with me as we all learned to do it together.
Art is an amazing teacher of looking at things and appreciating what we have here on this wonderful planet. It is an underappreciated part of learning.
I’m glad I went out with Theo and took photographs together as he taught me that the love of light and momentary captures of nature are inherently valuable. He didn’t even think he was being taught; we were “just playing”. If only all people could have that attitude – and be so joyous in their learning.