I watched a movie years ago about a young man who was autistic and one of the ways his therapist enabled him to walk on a busy street without becoming overwhelmed was showing him how to look through the lens of a camera while walking. It distanced him from the throngs of people and helped him integrate into society.
I have embraced the view through my lens for a very different reason but it actually accomplishes the same thing for a different end. By viewing the world around me through my camera lens I can eliminate the extraneous visual clutter and find the one, special detail that might just make a good shot great. I am not a proficient photographer - I play, I snap AND snap and after a few hundred pictures I might find one or two pictures that - well, that satisfy my inner artist!
When I purchased my first digital camera I thought I would use it to capture the sweet and impish sides of my grandchildren. For various reasons: distance, opportunity and a poor eye for people photos, I did not excel. I was much happier with my minimalist shots and the emotional beauty hidden away in the corners of my world. That surprised me. My daughters are far better at capturing these little ones in digital files!
Until recently, that is - well, not that I am better than my dear daughters but that I actually captured a moment. I have managed a few moments before but - this one resonated in my Grandma-heart. It isn't that the photos are great (as you can see!) but that the moment is frozen in my mind and still brings a smile to my face.
Picture this. A BMX bike course with dirt hills, scrubby grass and a wooden ramp. The sun is blazing and this Grandma is hanging out by the bleachers wondering if she should be standing in the middle of the track for better shots or even lying down to capture that magnificent air-born swoop every little biker dreams of! I had seen it on a commercial once. But then, my grandson is only six and I wasn't too confident even his Dad was going to catch enough air to fly over top of me, so, I resigned myself to the bleachers.
Max and Dad line up at the top, getting set to hit the trail or track or whatever it is called. The "black diamond run" included a wooden ramp and some rather large dirt hills between the start and finish; the smaller runs required some serious dirt "moguls". Neither looked easy to this inexperienced Grandma watching from the sidelines. Quietly, I murmur, "dear God, don't let him go down the ramp"!
Max, helmet on (I am suspicious he sleeps in it - he wore it in the car on the way to the track!), bike poised, feet planted on the ground, looked at Dad, nodded and launched. No fear, this boy. He whizzed down from the high vantage point the start offered, gained speed and sped over the first hill and then braked before hitting the next one. Peddling hard, he worked his way to the top and the rest was a quick up, down, up and glide. Dad was not far behind. I snap some pictures of both of them and back up they go.
With the same stance for the next go round, Max focuses on the downhill - once again, I pray he will choose wisely. This time he pauses for a second, glances to the side to see if I am watching, checks to see if his Dad is tuned in and then - whoosh - he goes for the middle track. Full speed he hits the first hill. Without braking, he buzzes over the second one and then, for that one second, as I am snapping, it almost looks like he catches some air. He is sure he has! I go into to sports photographer frenzy and take continuous shots as he heads back. My camera is rapid firing and, there it is, the perfect moment. A little grin just barely there, dusty helmet wedged tightly on his head and - click, click, click - I watch this little gutsy biker dude turn his head ever so slightly and sneak a quick glance out of the corner of his eyes at the photographer. My lens afforded me the perfect picture - the pride and determination of a six year old who can already see himself hitting that wooden ramp some day soon and catching air like the big kids checking to see if Grandma is watching. Did you see that, Grandma!
My lens had removed all the other clutter of that day and caught the moment when my grandson let me in into his life to share a little bit of the excitement of his passion. These moments are rare with distance that puts mountains between me and this guy. I won't forget it!