In September of 2005 my son and I went out one night when I first reentered photography. He wanted to go out on his own and I wrote about this event in one of my first Musings on this blog. You can read that short story here. Since that time he has not shown much interest in photography despite my encouragement and marvel at his natural eye for composition and timing. As he grew into a teen other activities were more important to him, friends, cars and of course girls.
But on a night when we normally see one another during the week, I was going to call him to let him know that I was busy shooting a theatrical performance, when something occurred to me. Why not ask the boy if he wants to come along to shoot? I had heard through a mutual friend that although I had given him a DSLR and zoom lens a while back, he lamented that his Dad had not taken the time to show him how to use it.
So I asked Niko if he’d like to come along with me and Tracy to try his hand at shooting theatre. It’s no easy task with the high movement, low light and complicated exposure of stage lighting. I’ve asked seasoned photographers along now and again to join us in shooting and they have had difficulty in that type of environment. He enthusiastically accepted and off we went to shoot the live rehearsal. I helped him set up his ISO, mode and lens selection and simply told him, “Have fun and pay attention to your timing and composition. A good photo tells a story in just one frame, so try to do that in each image you take.”
The theatre company needed several shots for opening night in their lobby, so Tracy and I processed several of our favorite shots from that night. When we were done I decided to place Niko’s card into my computer to see how he did. I was literally amazed at the percentage of good images he produced. And there were five that were excellent, good enough to place them in the printing queue for the theatre’s lobby shots.
So I sent all of the images to the lab to be processed and tonight after dinner we decided to visit the theatre to view his images in the display case. I’m not sure who was more proud of his first theatrical shoot, well in truth it was probably me. And then as we looked through the rest of his images to discuss what was good and bad about each, I was presented with yet another surprise. He began to explain to me that he would position himself so that the background was uncluttered so that his shot would focus on the subjects. He wanted the best vantage point for the best light. And as we looked through his work from that night I noticed that his timing was good as was his in camera composition.
Yes, I am biased and yes I am proud. But regardless of those biased views, I am a photographer who has critiqued work of others. And had he been a complete stranger I would have said, “Niko, you have the talent and I am proud to review your work.”
So tonight we discussed a more difficult environment with even lower light, higher movement and high energy dancing shooting on stage as well as from the house during a live performance. And after I explained seizing an opportunity that not many have access to he simply said, “Dad, let’s do it.” Perhaps it won’t be another four years between periods when he uses that amazing ‘eye.’