As the school summer holidays were coming to an end, and we were frantically trying to find ways of keeping the increasingly bored children entertained, I took my 6-year-old to Dunham Massey for the day. Neither of us had been there before, but as we recently joined as National Trust members, this seemed like a great way to start making the most of our membership.
Sydney, who had only recently turned 6, generally loves the outdoors – she enjoys exploring nature, can recite more botanical names than most garden centre workers, and will often be found helping me on the plot. But, 6 weeks for the school holidays is a long time – and as parents, we try to avoid using iPads or TVs as ‘babysitters’ – so by this stage literally everything is viewed as ‘boring’ in the eyes of a 6-year-old.
We arrived at Dunham Massey, parked up and made our way through the reception area – she excitedly showed her membership card and we ventured into the grounds. At this stage, Sydney decided that everything was ‘boring’ and put on her best ‘I hate you’ face – I dread the day she becomes a teenager! Realising that this was going to be a long day if this is how things were heading only 10 minutes in, I decided to ‘give her a job’ – my go to phrase for when I feel she needs to be distracted. Said job, on this occasion, was to take some photographs. I gave her a quick 2-minute lesson in how to take a photo using my Nikon D3200 DSLR (it was either that or give her my iPhone!). After a few false starts, she quickly got the hang of how to ‘point and shoot’ – and every now and again she would ask supplementary questions such as “what does this do” or “how do I…”.
From that moment, she turned into a different child altogether – never once complained, and actively encouraged more exploration. I resorted to taking photos using my now ageing iPhone, which these days can only accommodate a few dozen photos before the memory is full, most of which were me taking pictures of her, taking pictures;
I’ll be honest, in terms of photographs I’d pretty much resigned myself to coming home without any. I wouldn’t consider myself a great (or even good) photographer by any stretch of the imagination, so my expectations for a 6-year-old, with zero experience using a DSLR let alone any other camera beyond that on an iPad, were understandably quite low.
Upon reviewing the photos she had taken however, I was astonished – sure, a few of the initial photos were of the floor or the back of people, but as time went on you can clearly see how she’s gaining confidence with it – and to be fair, her ratio of ‘keepers’ vs ‘trash can’ is much better than my own generally are!
I’ve picked out a few of my personal favourites that she took, all untouched aside from resizing;
I’m unbelievably proud of how well she did, and in many respects I’m ashamed at myself for having such low expectations. She went from being thoroughly miserable that day, to enjoying every moment – and I believe her photos demonstrate that. I’ll certainly encourage it more often.
Founder and Editor, ForkMojo. Organic Allotmenteer, Husband, Father & Programmer.