through the eyes of a child
In addition to using our Nikon SLR and iPhones to document our travels, we also brought a small shock-proof, water-resistant Olympus camera. We had originally purchased it for adventure travel, but given that adventuring has taken a backseat to parenting, we’ve found a new use for the camera: we gave it to our son, curious to see how our travels would look from his vantage point.
Approaching his fourth birthday, Munchkin is developing a burgeoning interest in photography. He has a toy camera, which he loves, but he is also clearly interested in taking actual pictures. When S traveled to Italy with her parents, for example, Munchkin frequently asked to borrow his nana’s phone “to take photos to send to papa.” Of course, after snapping a few pictures he tended to move on to other activities, and because nana’s phone was frequently off-grid he never got around to actually sending his images to D in Kigali.
A lot of the images Munchkin captured during our three weeks on the road were, of course, not worth keeping. There were far fewer blurry, out-of-focus shots than we had expected, but a high number of images were also poorly framed or too nondescript to bother saving. This was to be expected. There were also a lot of pictures of mundane items: cars, rocks, trees, grass, of which we kept only a few standout exemplars while deleting the rest.
On the other hand, a surprising number of pictures came out really well. There was an excellent series of photos Munchkin took of D and Junebug, for example. And among the dozen or so snaps he made of D jumping on a trampoline — like the mistimed action shot below — there was also one stellar image in which he caught D at the height of his jump, an impressive feat considering the delay this particular camera has. A few otherwise good pictures were ruined by his thumb, but he corrected his grip after we showed him the images.
Most importantly, the camera served as a great motivator. When he grew tired on our hikes, the camera could sometimes distract him from his weariness. And his exuberance was contagious. Sometimes D would suggest a shot — the lakeshore, a pretty coastline, a bird…Munchkin would square up the camera, a look of determined concentration on his face. Then he would snap the photo and race back to D, proudly declaring, “I got it, pop!”
Signs were a particularly big hit with our young photographer. He took several closeups of a bike sign and and a park placard enjoining dog owners to pick up after their pets. He also took a photo of dried-up dog poop that someone had failed to clean up not ten feet from the sign. On our hikes, he would ask what each sign we passed said, which grew a bit tiresome when we had to explain the same sign for the hundredth time. And when he began expounding about the dangerous “bad boons” that roamed the coastline near the Cape of Good Hope, we knew our visit would be incomplete if we did not let him photograph one of the baboon sign.
There are several photos we kept to highlight our differences in perspective. How different the world must seem when you have ostriches towering over you and trying to peck at your hand, as these ones did!
Other images serve as permanent reminders of Munchkin’s daily obsessions. He loves the children’s song “Don’t step on my shadow,” for example, and frequently played a game with us whereby he would try to catch our shadows while we walked somewhere. He never did manage to catch our shadows, but he did capture his own for posterity in the shot below.
We wound up keeping about 60 of Munchkin’s pictures from this trip, and we are looking forward to many more of his photographic exploits.
All of the photos in this blog post were taken by Munchkin without any assistance from us, including this — the first photo he captured on his first real camera.