1. Look for the little details
My mama photographer heart warms when he notices things. A pinecone! A cork! And the cork is green! That flowerpot has fallen over! A long, red bus! (Mama, I want to go in a bus!)
2. Interpret what you see – and photograph your interpretation
“There’s a lion!” he said. I exchanged a smile with the owner of the little red-brown dog with a big mane and responded that no, that was in fact a dog. “That is a dog!” he repeated with enthusiasm.
Everything he sees he imbues with meaning according to how the world makes sense to him right now, and as photographers that is something we can learn from. How do you interpret what you see around you, and how can you convey that interpretation in a photograph?
3. Don’t be afraid of a little whimsy
Life with a toddler is a great lesson in taking yourself less seriously. My shoes are constantly muddy from trudging through the snowmelt in the park on our way to kindergarten, and I won’t mention the state of my dressy trousers from sitting on the floor all the time getting him dressed. Our floors and tables are littered with toys and books – when we tidy up before washing or vacuuming he finds joy in messing everything up again afterwards – and I keep finding the oddest things in my pockets, from paper towels for wiping snot to bread clips he’s been playing with and corks from smoothie squeeze bags. It feels liberating to add a touch of this joy, messy as it is, to my photography.