I've been considering perspective quite a bit lately. I'm leading the "Photography Club" at my children's school; I speak to them often about using different perspectives to 'tell' the story, to get different points of view. I've had the kids do all sorts of activities to work on broadening the way they view various photo opportunities.
The kids love working with perspective; and as I suspected, they pick up on things more quickly than us adults. One of the first rules of photography is to make sure that you, the photographer, are constantly willing to move to get the best shot. A photographer has to move herself when she needs a new view. It's a serious no-no to have your subjects have to move, and we are yet to figure out how to move objects like the sun, the trees, etc. Kids have no trouble with that - they are quick to move, to look at things with a new eye, to find a different approach to the same old scene.
They have enjoyed playing with perspective, too, loving to 'manipulate' the end result by changing the angle or the distance with which the photographer shoots. It's fun to have your friend move to the end of the hall, another friend stand just feet from you with their hand held up and take a photo that makes the viewer imagine that the closest friend (the one that looks like a giant) is holding the tiny friend (the one at the end of the hall). You can imagine all the fun that a group of kids with digital cameras can come up with to alter reality a bit to create a different scene. No one can resist that fun!
The kids have learned about how to shoot to make the subject look large and imposing and they've learned how to make the subjects look tiny and diminutive. They have learned to integrate photos from every angle, every side, different distances. They love this stuff - the moving around, finding the best spot, the best way to understand the subject.
Again this morning, I was the student and my son was the teacher. He stormed up the stairs with a loud battle cry that reminded me (loudly) that I needed to practice what I was preaching about looking at things from different perspectives. Don't you just hate it when your lessons get thrown in your face?
I'll spare you many details, as many of them are not proper fodder for discussion. Here is the Cliff Notes version of the morning drama . . .
Our dog, Sadie, is a fine dog. She's sweet, obedient, and we argue over who she loves best. Hands down, they don't come any better than Sadie. She was a rescue dog, and we are always happy that she rescued us. Sadie turned eight years old last summer. She jumps around like a puppy when she's happy and runs like a greyhound, but we are reminded when we go to the veterinarian that she is 'getting on up there' in years.
She came to us trained and ready, thank goodness, and there was never any house-breaking tasks on our part. Lately, though, she has begun to leave us some 'surprises' in the morning. Not every morning and not a big mess, but a mess we don't much want to clean up in the hurried craziness of the school day. We know when she has had an 'accident' before we go down the stairs because Sadie is a very bright dog. On the mornings after her offenses, she quietly paws her way up the stairs, gently snuggles herself into the warm bed, leans against one of us and nods off in innocent sleep. She does all of this just minutes before our normal wake-up time.
Alas, we wake the kids, turn up the heat and make our way downstairs to the mess. We know it before we see it - it's there. We clean it up, while the offender slumbers above. We wait until she comes down and then we show her the mess, force her to get close to it and we say, "NO - SADIE, NO!" Our children think we are abusing her and they run for cover. They don't want to see or hear this horrible scolding. (I must add here that this 'scolding' lasts less than two seconds and never reaches the decibel level of the voices of our children.) This scolding is not horrible. It is, though, the only thing we know to do. We try hard to make sure Sadie gets plenty of outside time, we take her out right before we go to bed, and we hope for the best. Other than this tiny behavior management tool (which, apparently, isn't working), things go along unchanged.
This morning, though, Harry stormed up the stairs to save himself from witnessing the torture, tore open my door and flew his tear-filled self onto my floor. "I can't take this anymore! I can't take it! How can you do this? What do you do when you need to go to the bathroom? You go! What do I do when I need to go to the bathroom? I go! Every night before bed, you remind me to get up and go to the bathroom whenever I need to. Every night! How can you get mad at Sadie for doing what she's supposed to do? I can't take it any more!"
Well, there I was. I had one eye sufficiently mascared. We were late. But there he was, in my space, reminding me to look at things from a different perspective. He got me. I woke up. I was reminded. I quickly told him he had a point. I thanked him for reminding me. I put mascara on the other eye and vowed to look at things differently.
And I will. I'm not sure what we'll do to change the situation. I doubt it will go away. I imagine it's here to stay. It's a small price to pay for the enormous gift of Sadie. And this morning, Harry gave me another gift. He threw my own lesson right back on me. I DO use the bathroom when I need to and I WILL look at our little dilemma with new eyes. I WILL. I've been practicing all morning and I'll keep on trying.
Here's to looking at things with new eyes, from someone else's point of view, from a different side, a different angle and remembering that sometimes I have to move myself when I don't understand the situation. Thanks, Harry.