Creativity in children. We can learn so much by listening and observing them in everyday life. They allow their imaginations to just flow.
She’s my 7-year-old and her world is a fascinating place. Her daily needs are simple; food, sleep and adventure. Her notebook is full of friendly monster doodles and has a clockwork morning report of her nightly dreams. In one particular instance, she woke to tell me that she dreamed that she could fly. And she had a simple request. She wanted to do a photoshoot of her dream.
The creativity of a photoshoot with a 7-year old
Now, you can guess what I did next. I looked down on my abilities to fulfill her photoshoot request, told her that I didn’t know how to do that. It had been a while since I’d taken photos, but I wasn’t good enough or that it would be too hard. I thought about my equipment and how my camera was old and I didn’t have the right lens. Excuse after excuse after excuse.
She was sad and utterly confused. But she did something that I will forever appreciate. She didn’t listen. She opened her doodle book and drew a photo of her flying above her bed. Then she started putting together the necessary items to “produce” the shoot. A stool, books, pillows, her bed, a ladder, etc. She was persistent and had no doubt that her vision could somehow come to play.
What a ridiculous example I was. My daughter had a vision and a concept she wanted to at least try. But, because of my own expectations and insecurities, I was the naysayer, the negative influence and the wall that was holding back a productive artistic expression for a child. So I bucked up, slapped myself around for a bit and grabbed my camera bag topped with dust from months of inactivity. And under her direction, the photoshoot began.
Let children use their creativity
She grabbed a stool and placed it on her bed. Since I knew I’d have to do some photo manipulation in Photoshop, I placed my camera on top of her dresser since my tripod was absent. (By keeping the camera in the same place on each shot, it makes it easier to composite photos together later.) I started by letting her direct and pose to see what exactly her vision was. She knew the picture wouldn’t be believable if her hair wasn’t moving so she directed her lovely sister assistant to flip her hair.
And of course, what would flying be without some gush of massive wind from “her powers?” We then removed her from the shot and took separate frames of the bed curtains moving.
Once the short youthful attention span started kicking in, I knew it was then in my court to make her vision come to pass with some compositing and photo stacking. So I had to choose a plain photo of the background without her in it so I chose the movement of curtains photo as my background or base image.
The post-processing details
In Photoshop, I then started layering each of the photos on top of each other and created masks on each of the layers to bring out the elements that I wanted to show or the elements I did NOT want to show. During my editing process, I realized a few things that were needed. Since I removed the chair from the photo, I needed the illusion that she was sitting on something so we took another photo of a pillow to add that to the composite.
Magic. Absolute magic. Not because I took the photo or because of some incredible editing technique. It was magic simply because it was her creativity, her concept and her execution. There was nothing in this world that could convince her it wasn’t possible. I showed her the final image in Photoshop and she jumped up and down with excitement and pride in “her work.”
Admittedly, she was a catalyst of igniting a passion and reimplanting the bug of absolute love for photography back into my soul. She didn’t listen to me when I told her it was too hard, too time consuming or that I didn’t have the skills to implement her idea. Continuing forward, she did not allow my negativity to stop her from turning her dream into pixels and proving that this baby girl can indeed fly.
How many times have you had an idea and had no doubt in your mind that an idea was possible? When is the last time you allowed yourself to just be creative? How long has it been since you did something without listening to the naysayers or the negative influencers?
If you are in a creative rut, let a child inspire you. They will likely inspire your creativity in more ways than one. You might just learn something. I know I did.