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Joyelle: A Toddler’s-Eye View

Yesterday my 3-year-old son discovered the camera. Now, given that his father and I are both photo obsessed (to the point that we have weekly photo dates and are signed up for a photo retreat together this March) the only really surprising thing is that Gabe hasn’t picked up a camera sooner. I do have to put in a little disclaimer here, that the camera he picked up was our point-and-shoot Fuji, not one of our two DSLR cameras. So instead of freaking out and yelling “PUT THAT THING DOWN NOW!” I was like, “Go nuts, kid.” And he did.

For the last day and a half he has been snapping pictures of anything and everything, from the pantry cupboards to our cat (many, many pictures of the cat), his grandmother, his Ikea crawling tube, rocks, and his own shadow. He especially seems to like extreme close-ups, which come out in a cool blur of color. At one point he was closing in on his sippy cup and his grandma said something like “Don’t do that dear, it won’t look good,” and I practically jumped down her throat. OK, not quite that bad. But I did tell her to let him have his experiments. We’re in the digital age, he can take as many pictures as he wants!

After a day and a half of photo taking, he had filled up the memory card. Here is where I thought the hard part would come. I wanted to teach him about the most important part of photography — editing. So I loaded all his photos onto the computer and asked him to give me a “yes” or “no” as to whether he liked each image. What surprised me was how a string of “no”s came out easily. He kept his favourite subjects (the cat, grandma, his Ikea crawling tube) and quickly nixed anything that he didn’t love. I ended up over-riding his “no” a couple times when I wanted to keep an image. After all, it’s my baby’s first photo shoot! And that shot of the cement tiles was really cool!

And what I have now is really priceless. A collection of images, literally from my toddler’s point of view. I get to see the world from his perspective. And it’s chaotic and swirly and beautiful. And it may just be that I am biased because his father and I are both artists, but I think this first venture into photography shows his already acute artistic eye. But then, all children are artists. We only cease to be artists when we cease believing in our art.

So here again I can learn from my son. I can see his joy in capturing the moments of his day, and it is a reflection of the joy I feel when I look at my world through that lens. It reminds me why I love photography so much. Because in that process of re-framing your world, you become child-like in wonder at the smallest thing. That awe, that connection to the world around me, is why I keep coming back to my camera. It is meditation in motion. And I am so excited that now my son gets to have that experience with me.

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. LOVE this 🙂 My 3 year old is always snapping photos with his sister’s DS or sneaking into her room to use her point-and-shoot camera. I think it is adorable and I love how (most) kids are so good about easily throwing out the artwork they don’t love and naturally edit themselves without feeling any sort of sense of failure. It’s amazing.

    February 17, 2011
  2. Love those pics! And I am totally with you! I started letting my son (who is verbally delayed and has ASD) use my P&S camera starting @ when he was 2ish. He actually contributed to the demise of my older P&S (plus it got some sand during a beach trip, which was my fault!) LOL We couldn’t let him use a camera for awhile (too much frustration for him), but he just got back into it again last fall. He asks for his “gahmer” now (he’ll be 5 in May).

    But, he hasn’t made the connection to them being saved yet, I do all the editing myself (I remove the images between sessions). The only things I throw out are the ones that are all black or all white. I LOVE seeing his take on the world. I can’t wait til he can edit them with me (or on his own!)

    In fact, I just sent some prints of his photos to school, for “where I live” week. His “mom” and “dad” portraits were really good and I thought it was neat to send pictures of his room that he’d taken…

    He’s just started eyeing my DSLR… um, no. I told him maybe when he’s 6! He still occasionally does things that could potentially destroy the camera! Like, pushing the lens into things… he’s getting better at it, but I wouldn’t give him a camera I cared about yet. And hopefully by the time he’s six, I’ll have upgraded my camera and he can have mine 😉

    February 17, 2011
  3. lovely. good for yo for letting him go and see!

    February 18, 2011
  4. I love this, Joyelle — it’s amazing how our kids teach us to see with fresh eyes. And every opportunity to blend creativity and motherhood makes life a little less fragmented and more rewarding!

    Terrific photos.

    February 21, 2011
  5. I am smiling as I read this because my five year old just got the photography bug and I am so happy for her. Self expression in so many ways can only be GOOD for our kiddos’ futures, right?

    February 26, 2011
  6. @ Robin: I absolutely agree with you. I think encouraging self expression is so important!

    February 26, 2011

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