Adam’s Eye – Learn from 23 Innocent Images

Thu, Dec 24, 2009

Blogs, Fearless Creativity

Adam’s Eye – Learn from 23 Innocent Images

Since picking up a camera 35 years ago, I’ve been framing images to move viewers.  A desire to convince them I was good at what I did remains an underlying yet significant motivation. What’s more, I’ll make the claim that most spectators do so in judgment before considering the content’s honesty – that is – if it exists.  I invite you to look at these 23 images differently.

There is an integrity and openness in this group of photographs that is unique and worth examining.  They were taken by a photographer who does not care what you think; he’s not spinning it for his reviewers.  He doesn’t care about anything except how the frame and capture makes him feel and what catches his eye.  His viewpoint embodies freshness.  He’s a chaste artist.

The “heads up” came from Nate Sheaffer who originally shared Adam’s work with me.  Following the slide show is the story written by Nate – enjoy.  - Bruce DeBoer

The Art of Adam Sheaffer – 23 Photographs

A few days after his third birthday my son, Adam, expressed a desire to take his own photographs. He had grown weary of being told to smile when and where, and had taken to giving raspberries and covering his face with his hands when anyone pointed a camera his direction. Suddenly, our oft-cherubic ham, turned into a wiggle-faced spam, unwilling to smile in what we considered a natural way.

Giving him my first digital camera, an HP PhotoSmart, started out as a bribe designed to keep his sticky fingers off my newer cameras while also teaching him to focus his energy to some purpose other than collecting cicada shells, cigarette butts, and dead leaves.

Don’t get me wrong – I love a good dead bug, cancer stick, or musty leaf collection as much as the next guy. It’s just that three and four year-olds have boundless capacity for distraction and the OCD tendencies commonplace with their development can make for very large bug/butt/leaf piles all over the house.

Concurrently, small children possess a short-circuiting toggle that inexplicably allows them to drill down deep into minutiae of a different stripe only seconds after finding the wing of a desiccated ladybug the most fascinating element the universe ever assembled. Among modest goals set when giving him the camera lived the hope he might start smiling again and possibly begin developing a contemplative hobby.

“The pictures you take might be something you’ll want to show your children one day, Adam.” I remember telling him, trying to spark interest in the idea of permanence.

“Do they last that long? Wait…, how many children will I have?”

After some discussion, he decided three was a good-sized family then started shooting everything in sight, finding his lap and toes nine hundred times out of the first thousand. The one hundred shots that weren’t his crumb covered jeans or dirt and cat hair crusted piggies rivaled the very best work I’ve done shooting tens of thousands of snapshots.

His first real subject was his sister, Liza. Our then 18 month-old daughter loved the camera when it was in Mommy, Daddy, or Grandma’s hands, but when the shiny, flashy box rested in front of Adam’s face while he screamed, “CHEESE…SAY CHEESE. LIZA!!!! SAY CHEESE, NOW!!!” her hatred of paparazzi was born.

Early pictures of her crying and running away struck me in a most profound way. I never saw the beauty of my daughter’s tear-contorted face before, having never thought to photograph my child so distraught. Adam not only saw her distress as something worth capturing and freezing in time, but he often used the terrorist device he’d found to create powerful pictures of Liza at her most vulnerable.

One portrait he made while she stood outside a glass door begging to be let in. He kept instructing her in a voice loud enough to travel through the glass and drown out her screaming, “just a little longer…I’m making your picture.”

Though the subject matter makes me want to run and find and hug and squeeze and comfort my wee daughter wherever she is, the photos depict her sadness in a way that is equal parts wonder and vulnerability.

Hundreds of photos of dusty, blank floor space describe a richer story than just how poorly I keep our home.

“Why so many shots of the den floor, Adam?”

“Dad! They’re not pictures of the floor!” His boisterously indignant correction made me take a step backward and do a quick calculation of exactly how much processed sugar he might have already ingested in the day.

“Well, buddy, um…what are we looking at here?”

“Cats.”

Scrolling through each shot, he pointed just off screen to either side of my computer, adding color to what exactly I should have been seeing.

“That was Betty running over there and that was Barney. This one is just Barney. This one is Barney again. That’s were Betty ran. Betty, again. Betty. Barney ran away for good, and there…that’s Betty’s tail!”

Many household items are favorites for Adam. He has composed thoughtful toy shopping cart and Hello Kitty hair band studies as well as cat toy and musical instrument concerts – all caught in odd positions I would never have considered worthy of a single click, let alone several dozen from as many angles. My son with his lowered perspective is fearless in his photography, where I am cowed by the need to make a picture look good long before my finger adds pressure to the button.

I intend to ask his help overcoming my fear, but probably not until I overcome my fear of not asking in the proper manner.  - Nate Sheaffer is a writer, artist & builder of stuff from North Carolina

Art, artist, Artistic Expression, Creativity, Photographer

5 Responses to “Adam’s Eye – Learn from 23 Innocent Images”

  1. Michelle Says:

    I love the innocence of these pictures but they are also composed in aesthitacally appealing way- nice job—hence the quote “All children are artists, the problem is how to remain one as you grow up” I believe it was said by Picasso?

    • Bruce DeBoer Says:

      Michelle thanks for responding – I’m’ glad you mentioned that because it’s what made me think about this post from the start. It has also inspired me to recall the sense of childlike curiosity when I started at age 12.

  2. adam travel Says:

    Cool tool thanks for posting this up


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