How my son has changed in the brief time since I took this candid portrait of him sitting on the parapets of his appropriated, improvised stone castle on the beach in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California… This is my favorite picture of him at this age, then just four, and now about to turn six at the end of January. I took a number of shots with him looking the camera dead to rights, but something, perhaps a wanton setter or retriever frolicking in the surf, caught his eye, and the shutter released at just the right moment to capture him as I see him often, wondering at the world, a younger version of me–for better or worse.
I have a distinct sense that he will eclipse me with photography. His sensibilities and sensitivities are beyond his years, and he is patient and kind. He is gregarious, unlike me, and perhaps he will be more comfortable approaching a stranger for a portrait. Above all, he is curious. He has not yet ceased to find awe in the smallest things, which it took me years and a good macro lens to rediscover from the bowers of my childhood. We are going to North Carolina just after Christmas and for the New Year, and I will bring my old camera and kit lenses to see what he will be able to find through them. His attention span is limited, but his wonder of nature will, I think, balance the scales appropriately…or it could be a quick introduction to a skill for which his maturity is not yet prepared.
Like the rock in this photograph, which he gravitated towards as if he were a satellite, he has a favorite stone perch in North Carolina, though it is not a castle there, but the great jutting precipice in the Lion King movie from which Simba was introduced to the kingdom. The Lion King rock is on the property of a family friend where we stay, along the drive to the upper cabin, and scarcely will the wheels have stopped their revolutions before he is unbuckled and hastening towards it. Perhaps this year he will be able to climb it by himself, a feat he has yet to master. If so, I fear we will see little of him that first day. I was like him as a child, happy to be within myself amongst nature and my own thoughts on any manner of subjects. Perhaps this year, I will send him out with a camera in hand to find what he finds interesting or beautiful. Photography has been a window into my psyche, and perhaps it will give me an even better view into his.
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