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 dreamt that she could fly. And she had a simple request. She wanted to do a photoshoot of her dream.
Now, you can guess what I did next. I looked down on my abilities to fulfill her photoshoot request. I told her that I didn’t know how to do that, that I hadn’t taken photos for a while, that 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 and 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. Here my daughter had a vision and a concept she wanted to at least try and because of my own expectations and insecurities, I was the nay-sayer, 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.
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.
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.
And the results? Magic. Absolute magic. Not because I took the photo or because of some incredible editing technique. It was magic simply because it was her idea, her concept, her execution and 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”. And I must admit, she was a catalyst of igniting a passion and re-implanting 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. She simply continued forward without letting my negativity 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? How long has it been since you allowed yourself to freely create? How long has it been since you did something without listening to the nay-sayers or the negative influencers?
If you are in a creative rut, maybe let a child inspire you in more ways than one. You might just learn something. Because my dear friends, I know I did.