Hand Them The Camera!

November 14, 2009

Teenager in the family?

Hand them the camera!

One late summer day in September when I was a teenager, I was asked to watch my little sister, Ruth while my parents did something unusual for them; enjoy something that was not work. They were going to get a free airplane ride from Klein Fertilizer Company to view their farm from the air as a “thank you” for their business over the years. Because I wanted to see the airplane that my parents were in and when it flew over photograph it too, I decided to dress up my little sister and “chase” her around the yard of our farm and try to get some good pictures of her.

Don’t Know Much About That

I didn’t know much about photography at all; I only knew that things were changing before my very eyes and it was not being recorded in pictures for my family to remember. Dressing up when you are a farm kid is not something that happens very much or by accident. Some farm animal or some thing is always getting your clothes dirty or torn. In addition to that, in order to make ends meet in a business with small profit margins, the kids wore hand-me-downs from other people’s kids or their older brothers and sisters most of the time.

Sister and family pet - Click to Enlarge

Sister and family pet - Click to Enlarge

And so, with my parent’s permission I found a cute outfit for little Ruth to wear for the pictures I was going to capture of her and we combed her hair and wiped her face and hands off so that she would look her cutest and best!

Take Advantage Of Unexpected Opportunities

I let Ruth keep the comb in her hands as she was not willing to give it up just yet; no harm in that being in the picture, I thought. Almost immediately the pet dog, Sport, wanted to get in the picture too! That would be a good one I thought as I studied the scene for the best angle. You can see that I didn’t do too badly as the light is coming over her left shoulder. I can see today that I should have moved in closer though, because there is a lot of wasted space around her and the pet dog.

Holding Up A Tree - Click to Enlarge

Holding Up A Tree - Click to Enlarge

Look For Props

Then there was a black walnut tree nearby, and with the comb still in her hand, I asked her to put her hand on the tree as I took another picture. That one turned out good too, especially since fill flash was almost unheard of in those days. However, I didn’t understand the rule of thirds then, so that composition understanding was not applied to show the benefit of how that would have contributed to an even better picture.

Some Things Are Too Hard To Get

Soon, the airplane carrying my parents was flying over head. You know that it’s the right one because the pilot comes down to about 500 feet over the farm and circles it. Quickly, I snapped a picture of the airplane! However, I did not have the option of using a telephoto lens to bring the airplane closer, therefore the airplane is just a dot in the sky!

Parents Take To The Air - Click to Enlarge

Parents Take To The Air - Click to Enlarge

Finish The Shoot

With the airplane now gone, I took one last picture of my little sister sitting on her haunches beside the box of my prized little Kodak Starmite camera. The light was right and showed her little face well, but as you will notice, no artful rule-of-thirds was applied and there is more picture of the green grass than there is of my baby sister!

Capture The Moment - Click to Enlarge

Capture The Moment - Click to Enlarge

Mission Accomplished!

That was it! I took only four pictures! Remember there was only 12 pictures on the roll, and I was paying for the film, and the developing, and the printing, and all with just money I made from baby-sitting for other families children.

Ah For The Good New Years!

Today, all of that is different! With your digital SLR camera, your teenager can study the results of their photographing almost immediately. They can take many pictures without incurring additional expense. And if they are interested in art and recording memories, your family will get the benefit of at least a few very beautiful portraits!

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

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