When I was a child, I remember every day just exploding with sensory information. The hot smell of wild flowers while running through a field to the baseball diamond. The sound of owls and frogs and sight of frothy stars on my first overnight at summer camp. If a day passed that I couldn't climb up into my tree fort and peer over the edge at the rock garden I had built below, I literally couldn't sit still until my next climb up that ladder made of branches.
When we become adults, our responsibilities take over much of the free time we once had, and it's easy to get stuck in a repeating life pattern: eat, sleep, and watch Game of Thrones. There's a certain comfort in this, but if you take a moment to reflect back on the rich tapestry of our childhood, you realize that something is missing.
I recall taking my Dad canoeing in Algonquin Park for his first trip there. I had always loved going there since high school with my friends, but when I took my Dad there, it was an enlightening experience. I had the chance to witness him experiencing the chidhood wonder of things that I had, without even realizing it, started taking for granted. Llifting a canoe over a beaver dam, swimming over to the island across from the campsite, or getting up before sunset to look for bears and moose wasn't just an awesome experience: for him it was the most staggering unbelievable adventure ever and it is a trip I will never forget.
When I was teaching photography in Trent University's Continuing Education Program, I started thinking about what it is about many great photographs that makes them appeal to us and I started noticing a pattern. There was something extra about them, something more sensory and evocative that reminded me of being a child. Some shots framed from unusual perspectives (think getting low and shooting through the branches of a hiding place, or climbing up into a treefort and looking down or extreme closeups--like if you were a child examing a ladybug that landed on your finger). Sometimes they were shots that were just exploding with unscripted action, joy, and adventure, just like much of childhood is spent. But the similarity was this: each shot was filled with a fresh excited point of view on the world. So next time you're about to take a photograph, don't worry about things like rules of thirds, lighting ratios, and so on. Scrap all that, get grass stains on your knees, and started thinking like a child again. Oh and by the way, if anyone stops and gives you an unusual look, give yourself a big pat on the back. It means you're doing everything right.