My daughter really takes after my husband in almost every way except for her face, which is a younger, miniature version of my face. They are always building things and trying to work through technical problems, while I tend to take the “imperfections are what makes it perfect” approach to technical problems and daydream about stuff I’ll never build. She’s mentioned to me before that she wants to be a photographer just like me, but I always say to her something to the effect of, “That’s great for you to do for a hobby, but what about being a scientist or a doctor or something?” Like I don’t want her to waste all her talent on my little artist job. Like there’s something not good enough about what I do.
My friend Kara of Kara Chappell Photography brought this up midway through our time together in my workshop and posted about it on her Facebook page – the idea that we yearn for our daughters not to want to be just like us, but be better than us. When my daughter says she wants to be just like me, it often sends me down a spiral of all the things I have done that I hope she never does, all the mistakes I hope she doesn’t have to learn from, and all the wandering before she finds something to set her soul on fire that I hope she never has to navigate. But there’s nothing wrong with her wanting to be just like me at all and there’s nothing wrong with me wanting her to be better than me either – there’s a way for her to do both and that’s where the mothering comes in isn’t it?
She asked me if she could use one of my cameras on Saturday afternoon, just as her grandparents stopped by to scoop my kiddos up for a little fun outing. I handed her my Olympus point-and-shoot and sent her on her way, returning to her images after she went to bed later that night. As I went through them, I found awesome funky compositions as well as traditional comps, unique perspectives that included self-portraits, focus on the details and line and color, awesome use of light, and lots of playing with motion and my heart was so, so happy. The next morning we woke up and I told her that the little red camera was all hers.
She’s already an artist. Photography will teach her so much – not only about how she can manipulate technical things to create something beautiful, but about how her point of view matters in this world. The way she sees her world and the connections with the people she loves, the way she finds beauty in the little things just like her mama does, and the way that she can tell her stories through pictures – these things matter. And I can guide her through them, but what she chooses to do with it is up to her. No matter what, though, I know it’ll be beautiful.
“This is the slide tunnel. It looked like a rainbow or the sun.”
“That’s my new friend.”
“Look Mom! Look what the picture did to the carpet when I was spinning!”
“Those are the rules. I took this because people weren’t following them.”