Seeing through a child’s eyes: One of the best tips a photographer can get

Well, I’ve done it again. Managed to maintain the heck out of the Abanathy Photography, LLC grounds. In fact, I’ve maintained it to a point where I can barely move for the rest of the evening! But, along with the exquisite exhaustion and pains such efforts bring, it also allows a good opportunity for me to tour the property. It is during these times I am able to employ one of the best traits a photographer can have: The ability to see the world as would a child.

This was something my photography teacher taught me in college. He said a photographer should look at the world the way a child would. At the time, I don’t think I fully grasped what he meant by it, but I immediately began thinking in those terms. Now, years later, I believe I can say, with some confidence, that I fully appreciate this advice and know why I did not completely understand it then.

When one is a young student in college, they are still, in many ways, a child. The rigors of “real life”, including jobs, careers, hard work, day-to-day routine, and other life distractions are not yet part of their lives. For the most part, it is still all about them and their experience.

When I was that age, I still viewed the world through a child’s eyes whether I knew it or not. Things were new. They needed to be explored and allowed to impact me on a deeper level. It is the ability to take every aspect of every experience and treat each with equal importance. The important thing is to know how to hold on to that ability, especially if one is going to be an artist of any medium.

Now, living in the “real world” as an adult, I have seen many for which this ability has been forgotten or, simply, never developed. Its like someone, at some point in their youth, flipped a switch in their minds from “abstract” to “practical” making it nearly impossible for them to see the world around them as anything much more than a collection of objects of either use or uselessness within their intended purpose.

As an example, let’s say someone goes outside, walks around their property and sees an old junk car surrounded by weeds. It is rusty, missing one wheel, bits of the bumper is hanging off, the interior ceiling is ripped and drooping, and many of its windows are either down or missing.

Two ways to view this: The adult way, and the child way! (Public domain archive photo)

 

To the average adult, this could be nothing more than an eyesore, a heap of metal for the scrap yard, something to be moved to make room for something else, or something that needs to be sprayed for bugs and weed control. In any case, outside of minor monetary worth, they might not see it as anything much in the realm of interesting or useful. In fact, they likely don’t think of it at all. It’s just something they have and it is nothing more than what it is: A rusty car.

Now, if a child sees this, it is instantly something more there than a pile of metal and weeds. It is a fort, home base, a shield against enemy forces, a hiding spot, or a time machine. And, to the curious youngster’s eyes, it is also an interesting observation in how the elements have played upon the vehicle’s paint and interior. It is interesting to see exposed components within the door or to poke at the ever-expanding, rusty hole in the back floorboard. There could even be a interesting spider perched upon a web stretched across the opening of its downed windows.

This latter view is what one is definitely going to have to have to be a great photographer. You have to be able to look beyond a useless pile of metal and tall weeds to see all the possibilities that still lie within. To me, this would be an endless supply of high school senior, engagement, bridal, and family portraits. Up close and artsy, it would be an endless supply of macro portraits of old paint and rust textures and dramatic black and white images. In fact, if I had such a rusty car in my yard (maybe someday I will), I would even maintain the weeds to help assure a great shot at all times of the year.

Luckily, in my old age, this view is constantly on and is especially nice to have when out mowing or trimming the yard. I see the different combinations Mother Nature has to offer on our humble two-and-a-half acres. It seems just when I have seen every possible backdrop or prop our property has to offer our business, it comes up with something new. Something one cannot get from a studio or forced environment.

Truth is: It is there all around us all the time, we just have to think a few feet closer to the ground to see it.

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