I hadn’t thought that my daughter might be interested in making her own vacation memories until we took a trip to Disney World. As we moved from place to place in the parks, she kept asking if she could take pictures with my camera. Since she was four at the time, I was hesitant to trust her for an extended period of time, but did allow her some occasional chances to take a picture or two.
Looking back at it, the request made sense: as she grew and matured, why wouldn’t my daughter want to take charge of framing her own memories? Was it fair to say that she should only see the visual evidence of our trip as filtered through what I thought was important? She was there and lived the experience, so she should have some agency in determining what she took away from that trip.
Since then, her grandparents had given her a kid-proof digital camera (the VTech Kidizoom Duo), which she brought on our most recent Disney vacation—but even if that hadn’t happened, I would have pulled out an old camera to let her use on the trip. On the practical side, the chance of her dropping my camera would have been high, but what I really wanted was for her to have a chance to express herself through memory.
Now that we’re back home, it’s been fun to see what bits captured her attention enough that she thought them worthy enough of being photographed. Many of the pictures are what you’d expect, such as the pictures of the landmarks, but then again I believe it may be a law that if you take a camera to the Magic Kingdom, you must get at least one picture of Cinderella’s castle.
She made sure to document the features of our hotel room that she liked the most, like the light-up headboard and the pictures of princesses on the wall. Yes, she is still in the “princess phase” that seems to capture many young children—though she has recently declared that Elsa is her favorite, since she’s “the queen and in charge,” so she at least seems to be maturing in her appreciation of the various positions in monarchies. So it didn’t surprise me to see she’d also taken a number of selfies when she was dressed up in her Elsa dress, though I was charmed to see that she’d also taken a close up of the flower detail on the dress.
Speaking of selfies, their sheer quantity was indicative of an unexpected boon to her having her own camera: taking pictures of yourself making funny faces is a great way to kill time when waiting in line. Since my daughter’s camera also lets her add various stickers and filters, she spent a lot of time entertaining herself by doing so.
As expected, there also were a number of pictures of the places we went, such as the neat décor of a restaurant or animals and characters we saw when in the parks. When we were in the Japan Pavilion at Epcot, she was especially charmed by a display on the culture of kawaii and went nuts taking pictures of everything she liked.
What surprised me most of all, though, was the discovery that she sometimes looks at the world the same way I do, at least when it comes to small, inspiring things worthy being saved for later. I occasionally grab pictures of interesting textures or shapes, and so does my daughter. When I pointed out an interesting angle for looking at the architecture of Cinderella’s castle, she immediately saw what I meant and took a picture for herself.
Pictures are one of the few ways we get to see the world through someone else’s eyes, and I’m glad I’m able to see my daughter’s perspective this way. As she continues to grow and mature, I look forward to seeing how her perspective, in both the artistic sense and in the sense of determining importance, changes.
If you have a young geek in your life, I encourage you to take the time to give them a chance to show you how they see the world. A good way to start is by looking at their photographs.