Digital Project / EC 831

Joy in the Park

On Sunday afternoon I decided to dive into my project with a photo shoot.  At first, I had thought I would just do my photo shoots AFTER I had learned more about photography, but I think it’s better to “shoot as I go”.  We learn best when we do!   This will also help me to document my progress.

I was feeling a bit apprehensive about getting started, but the sight of four of my little neighbourhood buddies playing in the park, surrounded by a yellow canopy above and floor of yellow below was enough to get me moving!  These four vibrant, sweet, energetic girls often come knocking on my door for a freezie in the summer months…and fall months…okay, maybe any month!  I knew they would be a pretty gentle way to ease myself into taking photos.   Their enthusiasm is unmatched!  Before we got started, I visited each girl’s home and chatted with their parents to make sure it was okay to take their photos.  I was really happy to meet these families (a bonus)!

I have been reading and thinking about telling authentic stories in my photos.  We grew up on poses and “say-cheese” inspired moments, but I find that capturing real, genuine life moments is much more satisfying as a photographer, and I believe it creates more interesting and powerful images, as well.   I wanted to tell the story of the friendship and play of this quartet of girls.  I have observed them at play in the park, running around the condos, laughing, pretending, being silly, beautiful little girls.  I wanted to try and capture pieces of that in my photos.  I also wanted our park to be highlighted, because it is a meeting place for our community.

We had a lot of fun. There was a lot of laughter.  I suggested a few things here and there, but mostly, I just let them run the show.  There was Gangnam style dancing on the playground bridge.  There was jumping off the monkey bars “so we’ll look like we’re flying!”  There were cartwheels (of course!).  They rolled down the hill in the leaves. They threw the leaves.  They jumped in the leaves.  They hid each other with blankets of leaves.  And then popped out like they were waking up from the dead (yes, that was their idea!).  They posed however they wanted (and they really wanted to pose).  We covered a lot of territory in about 45 minutes!

A couple of my favorite moments happened when others entered into the play.  First, a sweet little two-year-old, accompanied by her parents, noticed the fun and started mimicking whatever the girls were doing.  Pure sweetness.  Throwing leaves, rolling down the hill.  Snap, snap, snap!  Later, a Chinese grandma and her beautiful little grandson came to the playground.  She didn’t speak English, and I don’t speak loads of Mandarin, but enough to communicate the basics and enough to allow me to take some photos of them.  It was so much fun and happily reminded me of my days in China.  It was neat to capture the “meeting place” dimension of the park as these two families brought two different elements to my photos.

Technically, I didn’t really do anything fancy with my camera.  I left in on auto.  I haven’t done enough reading yet to try it out when I’m short on time (I didn’t want to miss any of the action!).   I was quite happy with how the photos turned out, and I’m looking forward to sharing them with the parents.  One thing that I learned was that when you shoot in a park, you need to consider how your subject is placed with the bottoms of trees, or parts of the playground.

Because it was a bit of a spontaneous shoot, I didn’t have anything written to receive parent permission to post photos on my blog, so I’m holding off until I hopefully get the go-ahead as I would love to post a couple!  Next time I will be ready with a short waiver.  (It’s painful posting only text in this entry that is all about photos!)

My time in the park was a great start to this journey!  And the important bonus, I spent time connecting with great kids!

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