We observe few objects really closely. As we walk on the earth, we observe the external events at two or three arms’ lengths. If we ride a horse or drive in an automobile, we are further separated from the immediate surround. We see and photograph “scenery”; our vast world is inadequately described as the “landscape.” The most intimate object perceived daily is usually the printed page. The small and commonplace are rarely explored.
~ Ansel Adams, Examples
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
How many times a child will be asked this, before she’s no longer a child. For myself, I would dutifully answer with something that seemed good or interesting at the time—a marine biologist, perhaps, or “I want to work with wolves and big cats and birds of prey.” Sometimes, when it seemed acceptable, I would simply tell the questioners that I didn’t know, which was the closest thing to the truth. The truth itself was an answer I could not give; they would have thought it cute—”oh, the things kids say!”—because it was impossible, maybe the only impossible thing.
Because, truth be told, what I wanted to be when I grew up was a kid.
Adults were full of worry, in my eyes. They spent most of their time doing things they didn’t care about in order to pay the bills, which seemed always to be on their minds. They could only steal a moment here or there—during the weekend, in between chores and errands—to do whatever it was they actually wanted to do. This bustle and worry sapped their time, attention, and curiosity.
But the child does not worry about these things, is free as yet of the workaday world. To the child’s eye, nothing is too small to be worth noticing. Light and shadow, color, pattern, and shape are ever fascinating, ever delightful; everything is bigger, every moment longer, and curiosity is a way of being.
When I look through a viewfinder, I see the world this way; with my camera in hand, I am a kid still, for at least a little while. Through its lens, the child in me peers out. Let me show you what she sees.