A Child’s Desktop

A Child’s Desktop

wallpaper

I am back home after a great week with the family in Thailand. Quite relaxing. Four days in Chiang Mai and two nights in Phuket. As a result of being away, I am late posting this month’s wallpaper. So here is a special treat. Since everyone fawned over Jessie’s Cup picture, you can have it on your desktop this month. You know how it works. Click the image then download the linked file.

Watching Jessie this week has inspired me. She is approaching photography with a spirit I have lost or at least misplaced. Photography hasn’t become a “job” for me in that the joy is gone, but it has become very serious. I push myself to be better and better, and tell myself whether something is a good or bad shot before I even take it. Jessie takes a different approach; one of just plain fun and experimentation. She take the camera and shoots and shoots and shoots. True, she needs to slow down and think about composition and what it is she is doing with the camera in her hands. But then again, maybe she doesn’t, maybe I need to relax and let go and shoot with more childlike abandonment? She sees something creative in a coffee cup and a wooden floor or in a lamp shade from beneath and takes it before she analyzes it. I would do a thorough once over of the shot, analyze it, then I might take it. We adults loose the “play” of life at times. Jessie is inclined to say, “Look! That looks fun.” Rather than, “That wont work.” She almost always sees the possibilities rather than the limitations. Maybe part of this is she doesn’t know what the camera can or cannot do yet. So the possibilities are endless, at least for a while. The beginners mind asks, “I wonder if I can do this?” When do “grown ups” loose this wonderment? Is it just me? Garr Reynolds writes in his book Presentation Zen, “Making a mistake is not the same thing as being creative, but if you are not willing to make mistakes then it is impossible to be truly creative.” Are we afraid to fail? Jessie isn’t. I think I am. Children are taught to limit mistakes, learn from the mistakes of others. We are told, “Don’t do it that way, it wont work. This way is better.” There is some wisdom in that, certainly it is cost effective. But like all things, it needs to be taught in moderation. Instead of saying, “Don’t do it that way,” we as instructors and mentors need to say, “Ok, do it that way and then lets see the difference when you do it this way.” We need to encourage mistakes and experimentation so we can compare and learn by doing. Isn’t that a type of inductive learning?

It used to be too expensive to fail. It just wasn’t practical. We were not made out of money, the cost of film, paper, the processing charges all made experimentation very expensive. But now, with most of that minimized, the cost is measured in other ways. Maybe to reputations? What will others think? But this is where we have to risk. Reynolds goes on to say, “A failure is in the past. It is done and over. In fact, it doesn’t exist. Take chances and stretch yourself.” I think I need to learn from Jess and let go and have fun. Try some fun new stuff. I need to shoot something less “Brandonesque”. Take some risks to my reputation. Want to join me?

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10 Comments

  1. Ian

    Many thanks for the wallpaper Matt & truer words have rarely been spoken but, here’s another one for ya. You might have to bear with me a little on this as I have a habit of digressing but I read an article once about longevity and the secret to long life, and it made some sense. It’s not so much the recital of mystical mantras or the search for the elixir of life in some pool in the amazon. Think back to when you were a child. Didn’t the days seem longer and wasn’t your life filled with joy? These days there’s rarely enough time to think let alone do anything.

    The difference between the two is not the passage of time and some evil person secretly stealing hours out of the clock, the difference is exactly what you’ve just described. The difference between the way your daughter approaches things and the way you and we all do. A life filled with learning, experimentation, discovery, of living just for the sheer joy of it(!), is invariably not only beneficial to the creative instincts but also to the brains feeling of longevity.

    I’m with you in it, but let me know if you find out the secret of how to return to those days. Like my photography, I know the theory but i’ve not quite managed it yet. We can all learn a great deal from Jessie.

    Reply
  2. Heimana

    Thanks Matt for the wallpaper and the thoughts… It’s true most of us lost this child freedom. I think when we were kid we had this precious capacity of living in the present, just here and now. And this is making the moment a moment of truth.
    Yet we need to gain experience and all kind of skills to face life and all its tricks, we should be able to keep safe this child awareness.
    Easy to say… but let’s try! Let us be photographers of life in all its terrible splendour!
    Spanish gypsies who dance and sing the flamenco have a word for that: duende. This very special moment when you’re filled with a clear presence of what you are doing. Kerouac talked of the “it” in one of his book, when jazz players were gone in their music… So the photographers can also find their duende while shooting!
    Cheers!

    Reply
  3. Fotografi

    Nice wallpaper.
    I hope you realxed in Thailand.

    Reply
  4. Fotografi

    Nice wallpaper.
    I hope you realxed in Thailand.

    Reply
  5. Taylor Davidson

    Perhaps the cost to to our own self-image; testing new styles invites failure that not everyone has the self-confidence to accept. The odd thing is that one of the most important things for a photographer is to define “their style”, but at the same time not let “their style” define or limit themselves.

    It’s a funny game of balance we play…

    Reply
  6. Chris Ward

    You know, it doesn’t take long before you get “serious”. I only got my DSLR a couple of years ago. I would go out at lunch every day and take pictures of just about everything. Now noon isn’t the right light. I used to take pictures of fire hydrants, now they aren’t the right subject for the portfolio I am working on.

    There are times when I can forget about striving for that perfect picture, and just have fun taking pictures. I actually find that I learn a lot when I stop “trying” to learn too.

    cyberward.net

    Reply
  7. Joe

    Came across your blog from David’s.

    Glad that I did, these words are a great reminder for anybody looking for inspiration in their photography. Thanks, Jessie & her dad!

    Reply
  8. Joe

    Came across your blog from David’s.

    Glad that I did, these words are a great reminder for anybody looking for inspiration in their photography. Thanks, Jessie & her dad!

    Reply
  9. Matt Brandon

    Joe, Welcome to TDT. Glad you found me.

    Ian, I love your thought here. But I got another idea why the days were longer when we were kids. Ok are you sitting down? Got that beer ready, you are going to need it. Here goes: Some brain (Einstein, maybe?) said “time is relative” right? Well it just might be. Think about it. When you finished your 5th year of life you had just completed a 5th of your life, right? Now I am 50 and in May I turn 51 (ouch!) anyway, I will now have completed 51th(?) piece of my life and let me tell you it is a lot smaller piece these days! Get my point? The longer we live the shorter our years get. Ok, ok, I’ll go back to photography, Einstein, I’m not.

    Reply
  10. Matt

    Joe, Welcome to TDT. Glad you found me.

    Ian, I love your thought here. But I got another idea why the days were longer when we were kids. Ok are you sitting down? Got that beer ready, you are going to need it. Here goes: Some brain (Einstein, maybe?) said “time is relative” right? Well it just might be. Think about it. When you finished your 5th year of life you had just completed a 5th of your life, right? Now I am 50 and in May I turn 51 (ouch!) anyway, I will now have completed 51th(?) piece of my life and let me tell you it is a lot smaller piece these days! Get my point? The longer we live the shorter our years get. Ok, ok, I’ll go back to photography, Einstein, I’m not.

    Reply

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