Photos of Growing Up

Fostering an Environment of Artistic Vulnerability


This may appear a rather mundane photo but I cannot stop looking it. I launch it from a thumbnail on my desktop screen repeatedly. For efficiency purposes, I should probably just make it my background.

What you are seeing is the Bear looking very proud of a few shots she captured during Easter Sunday at her mom mom and pop pop’s house — posing her doll with an Easter basket, in the basket covered by plastic eggs, and holding a single pastel-hued M&M. They were clever shots and the only thing better than what is happening in the photo above was having the privilege of watching her set up each photograph in the moments that preceding this one.

Here, she is showing me her work with no apprehension of judgement, no camera equipment or skill inferiority complex, no fear. The Bear feels free to be vulnerable in sharing her art. This is a subtle gift the Mrs. and I have tried hard over the past decade to give her and, later, her sister. We’ve made a conscious effort to foster an environment for our daughters where risks of all kinds can be taken and shared with loved ones with the expectation of receiving honest feedback and enduring encouragement to keep stepping further out onto ledges, but without the fear of harsh critique. It’s a fine line, but one well worth tip-toeing. In this photo taken by the Mrs. with our Samsung NX30, the Bear is pointing out to me the fine staging details she thought through and tried diligently to execute.

I keep staring at this one with the hope that her sense of joy and excitement about sharing with me her accomplishments, attempts, struggles, and failures, be them artistic or otherwise, never ever wanes.

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