Spotlight: Visiting Emerson
Warning: Feelings Ahead
The best thing about growing up is that once you become an adult, you're suddenly entrusted with the respect of tiny people. Like nieces and nephews; in this case, my sister's first child Emerson. I love my brother and sisters more than anything, but I actually love their kids just a tiny bit more (sorry guys).
Toddlers have a limited knowledge of the world, and their brains are actually wired to absorb as much as possible. Good parenting means conditioning pleasure with learning, so that as the child develops, they seek knowledge and find joy in it. This is why I have conversations with children that I'm photographing just like I do with nervous adults. It keeps their attention and gives them a task. Even better if it's a game.
For instance, I was trying to show Em how to say "love" in sign language. In my mind, I thought the crossed arms over the heart on her shirt would be the best thing ever. Her sleeves are a little too thick and they cover up the heart, plus she didn't sign it quite right. But who cares!? The sentiment is unmistakeable. Excuse me, is someone cutting onions? Stop.
One of my favorite shots of the bunch: taken as Emerson walked away. I mean, kids do that. One minute you're chatting with them and you seem to be having a nice discussion, and the next minute they've just remembered they have to go to the other side of the yard.
"Okay then. Sniff."
Here's what I love about kids. The world is just different for the tiny ones. We might look around the yard and see rocks, dry leaves, a few birds and a bunch of sticks. They see dinosaur bones, treasure maps, messengers, and the perfect magic wand.
They remind me that even though the world can be an awful place, it's still full of really cool shit. They see the back yard the same way I see the Grand Canyon-- a majestic, sprawling landscape full of splendor. I mean, it's hard to beat the Grand Canyon, but everything is relative. The herb garden is their Central Park. The rock pile is their Mount Everest. That bug over there is... a bug. They like bugs, we don't need to change that.
We adults tend to ignore most of what's around us. We live in a purgatory of automation where if it's boring, or we've seen it before, we ignore it. We get so used to ignoring things, probably just because it's more efficient that way, that sometimes things happen and we don't even notice. Sometimes, tiny, beautiful things are happening right under our noses, and we have no idea. Children live on the edges of this, seeing the whole world, like a slave set free. And us adults are all bumbling around in the middle, not noticing anything outside. That's why I love these kids. They zap me out of that thinking. I really hope someday when they're older and I catch them bumbling around, I can zap them out of it too.