Paying it Forward
“I wanna be a photographer, just like in National Geographic Magazine” – Me, 1980-something
“I wanna be a photographer, just like my uncle.” – Jade, 2009
I was fortunate growing up, in that I have parents that supported almost every harebrained interest I could come up with. As long as it didn’t involve personal injury or property damage, I had their support. Believe me, some of those interests were really harebrained too! Thanks Mom & Dad.
I remember the day I said the above words to my Dad. I guess he and Mom had gotten used to me and my never-ending schemes, as he simply went back into his bedroom closet, returning with a camera bag, and said “Okay, here you go.”
That simple moment, twenty-five or so years ago, was the beginning of my passion for this art form, and seldom does a day go by when I don’t think about creating images. Photography has always been like a close friend to me, there for me during the roughest of storms and the sunniest of days.
My niece, Jade, has the same sense of wonder and imagination that I do, and I’ve done all that I can in her ten young years to support and encourage that. I love that about children. They have the ability to live a lifetime in a single day, and have a limitless supply of energy that I’d pay money as an adult to tap into sometimes.
It was a painfully hot day in August 2009. I was at a family gathering in South Carolina, and took the opportunity to do something I very rarely do, take photos of people. Despite the heat and humidity, I couldn’t have been happier, as I hadn’t seen some of my family in years, and was making some great images on top of that.
Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, Jade, who’d declared herself my ‘photo helper’, said the words above, looking off into the field as if she were contemplating her future. I was instantly taken back to that day when I said something so similar to my Dad, and to his response. History repeats itself. So I simply handed my camera to her and said “Okay, here you go.”
She took to it like a fish to water, and all I could do was beam with pride. She took quite a few images, showing a natural ability to make great compositions and choose that ‘decisive moment’ to click the shutter.
Pay it forward. Do the good that was done unto you to another. But take extra time to do so when it comes to children. The simplest of acts by you keep that sense of wonder in them alive. And in turn, they may help you to rediscover some of your own sense of wonder.
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