Evening in Fall
3 Dec 2009
Note: The caption for each photograph is part of a story. Read in the suggested order or in a different order.
After Thanksgiving dinner we went outside to let the children run around a bit before the shadows came. (God knows my two boys needed to burn some energy. "They're boys after all," my mother would say.) It had been a good day, weather-wise, in Minnesota. The sun was hanging low in the sky, hanging in mid-air before taking a bow and disappearing behind the gray-ashen and bare trees beyond Green Bass Lake.
While my boys each took a big-wheel bike and raced down the driveway, avoiding Tilly the lab, or serious injury, I suggested to my niece about taking a few pictures. The light was beautiful, and I thought that her white hat and dark wool jacket would contrast well with the surroundings. She agreed. I thought about going inside to find a roller with tape to remove the dog hair on her dark coat and grabbing my favorite lens, the 50mm f/1.8, but decided against it. I didn't want her to change her mind. I have learned to quickly take the offer in such situation. I have to bribe, or threaten, my boys for a chance to snap a few shots.
Lately, I have been thinking about the kind of photographs I want to take in order to define the photographer I want to become. No easy task there. No easy answers. I have come to the conclusion that I want to take photographs of children that capture the person that they are evolving into. I want to be able to see the child, for just one moment, in transition, becoming someone else.
This desire comes from having my two children go through so many changes in such a short period of time. As parents, I think that we are always two steps behind our children's development. We fail to see how quickly our children develop, and we have a lot of those moments when we realize that the image we had in our heads of our children is gone. It is so hard to let go.
Back to the shoot: I wanted to capture a gesture, a look, a movement, that showed my niece in a new light. Perhaps a different angle would reveal something new. I dialed down the saturation in my camera in order to concentrate more on the tones and detail. I thought that color might be distracting, taking attention away from the tones and details. I avoided doing straight-on shots because I wanted her to stand differently, to look at the camera differently. I wanted different shots from the ones we usually elicit of children. ("Say cheese!") I also had her look away on many shots. I told her not to smile. Through all of this, I was trying to do the opposite of what she is used to doing when she's in front of a camera.
The whole shoot lasted no more than 5 minutes. At the end, we had to do silly shots. It relaxes children and you always end it on a good note. It is here when you really get genuine laughter, so you still get shots of them smiling and laughing – being kids.
The shots are all different in terms of color, detail, framing, etc., because I was trying to capture something unique to that shot: the eyes, the trees, the shed and the pile of wood in the background.
I hope that through the photographs you can get to know the child and appreciate the person she's becoming.