As a professional photographer, capturing a true moment (verses a posed or styled moment) on camera isn’t easy—unless you are a child. Children don’t “pose” like adults. They don’t worry if their double chin is showing—they show it off. Children don’t worry if their clothes make them look fat—they just take the clothes off. Children don’t try to hide their big thighs or belly’s—they pat them with pride.
Children don’t see my camera as a camera—it is something to grab at and play with. They don’t see my studio as a studio. It is a fun room in which to run around, explore, and ultimately drive their mothers crazy. They don’t understand the words “hold still” or “sit down” or even “leave your shirt on.” Nope, they are in the moment—well rather, they are in their moment.
Children are on their own time. They decide if or when they look at the camera. And usually, they only look if they are interested enough, and usually they aren’t. They have better things to do than to please this stranger in a strange, but interesting, room. How freeing is that? While the mothers are frustrated, I do smile on the inside with the process.
You know the saying, youth is wasted on the young. As we age, we are supposed to get wiser. But, do we really get wiser? Or just old? How wonderful to be so secure, so pleased within our own skin, such as young children are. Maybe that is why we adults marvel young children so. We envy them. We envy their confidence, their freedom to simply be in their moment.
While adult responsibilities dictate our time and how we spend it, we do have the freedom to create our own moments. We have the freedom to not worry if our outfit makes us “look fat” or if our double chin is showing. Really—think about it. Five years from now, will you, or anyone else for that matter, even remember or care, if your outfit made you look fat or if your double chin showed? In the great scheme of things, is it really that important? Because while we all worry over such things, our moments are passing us by. Our moments soon become “coulda, woulda, shoulda” moments. And instead of those moments being memorable, they become regrets.
I personally try to live a life without regrets. A huge goal, maybe impossible, but a life filled with regrets is usually a life filled with a lot of “coulda, woulda, shoulda” moments that escaped us or we let slipped through our fingers, usually out of fear. Fear of what others will think of us. Fear of looking foolish. Fear of looking incompetent. Fear of being vulnerable. Fear of failure. It is just plain easier to remain within our comfort zone and not venture into the unknown.
Comfort zone is overrated, I think. What good or achievement has ever resulted from remaining in a comfort zone? Do you think it was a moment of comfort for the first person who took this object that was left behind in a nest by a hen, and cracked this object open and then ate it? But that person’s moment of discomfort, ultimately led us to discover quiches, omelets, and eggs Benedict. When I recall my most exciting and memorable moments in life, every single one of them were out of my comfort zone. Big moments such as moving to Europe, opening my business, going through Air Force officer training, playing a role on stage before a live audience. And living outside of my comfort zone are also provided me countless small moments such as riding a camel in Turkey, submitting my first article for publication (it was rejected), going through elective eye laser surgery, agreeing to speak in public, cutting my hair super short, or attending a bible study class for the very first time. Comfortable? No, I don’t find sweaty palms and a quickened heart beat comfortable, but just about every time I step out of my comfort zone, my palms may be very aware of it, but my spirit is singing happily.
But, I will take sweaty palms and an elevated heart rate over a perfect blood pressure reading any day. And when I take photos of these very curious, independent, and clumsy, yet sure-footed children, it is a very real reminder that I have so much more living to do. And this budding human, not even two years old, experiences more life, more joy, in those few moments in my studio than most adults experience on a daily basis. And we adults are the wiser of the two? Really?
Children touch our hearts because our hearts long to be touched—and children aren’t afraid to reach out and do so. “We do not stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing.”
The next time a child reaches out to you and interrupts your thoughts or work, remember that the child is inviting you to be in the moment. Sometimes, the here and now is best experienced in the moment and not in the future as a mere memory.
Take some time to play today—it is a wise thing to do.
From my house to your house,