Through the Eyes of a Child
Do you remember the first time you saw a firefly? Or the first time you lay down on your back and looked up at the stars?
When we are young, the natural world is full of curiosities. Children can find endless fascination in an anthill or spend an hour watching caterpillars munch away on leaves. As adults, it is easy to lose touch with the awe we once felt. Our busy lives tear us away from the leisure of discovery and we stop paying attention to the little details that once inspired us.
I started taking photos of nature when I was just 11 years old. My father, an amateur photographer, gave me my first camera and took me to a friend’s backyard bird garden to take pictures. As I peered through my lens at a blue jay, I discovered a whole new world. That moment led me to a career as a nature photographer and conservationist and has inspired me to teach photography to kids all around the world as a way of connecting them with the outdoors.
For this assignment, we are asking you to think back to when you were first experienced nature as a kid; the wonder and curiosity as if you were seeing it through the eyes of a child. If you have kids in your life, we hope that you will go on an outdoor adventure together and document their journey of discovery as you explore a park or other natural area together. If you do not have children, think of ways to show us nature as a child might see it. Try playing with different perspectives and think about how you can illustrate the joy of discovery in an image. We’d love to see images that are fun and whimsical—show us little feet squishing in the mud or what it feels like to lie down in a field of wildflowers. Climb a tree, splash in a stream, or hike up a mountain and create images that make us want to be there with you.
We're hoping this assignment encourages you (and the kids in your life) to spend some time outdoors. A nationwide poll in 2011 by the Nature Conservancy found that a mere 11 percent of kids in the United States say they spend time outdoors every day. Through this assignment, we want to help change that. Read more about our collaboration with My Shot, the National Geographic Kids community in the Editor's Update below.
Thank you for your contributions!
Live Story Discussion
Join us on the Story Discussion page for a live chat with the editors of the Through the Eyes of a Child assignment! Starting now!
Story Discussion Chat
Hope you will join us for a live chat, September 6th at 1 p.m. ET. Editors Gabby Salazar and My Shot photo editor Hilary Andrews will be answering questions on the story discussion board. Ask us anything about story editing, educating young people and their love for the great outdoors.
A Your Shot First
I can hardly believe that this assignment wraps up on Friday. I’ve so enjoyed experiencing the natural world through your eyes and through the eyes of your children. I hope that this assignment has pulled you away from your desks and pushed you out into nature this summer.
Since I’m enjoying the editing process so much, I’d like to announce that I’ll be accepting one additional image per person starting today (that is four images total for the assignment). You have until Friday at 5 p.m. ET to finish your submissions. I look forward to being blown away!
And for those of you keeping up with the Wild Child companion challenge on My Shot, because of the amazing quality of the photos from the kids, for the first time ever we will be publishing photos from the kids’ challenge alongside your photos in the final Your Shot story. This way you can see through the eyes of both adults in Your Shot and the young people in My Shot. You might be surprised at how similar the views are.
One last request: I’d love to see some more intimate images that show the connection between children and nature or show the natural world through the eyes of a child. Get close. I’m still seeing a lot of wide images and I’d like to have a variety of perspectives for the published story. Here are some examples of what I’m looking for:
Photograph by Geralyn Shukwit
Photograph by Natalie Greenroyd
Photograph by Matt Theilen
Have a photo-worthy week! Good luck!
Watch a Facebook live video from the U.S. Botanic Garden with Gabby Salazar giving photo tips for her current Your Shot assignment: Through the Eyes of a Child.
Tune in tomorrow Friday, 10 a.m. ET for a live stream on the NGM Facebook from the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C. with editor Gabby Salazar and Nat Geo staff photographer Becky Hale. We'll give photo tips about photographing plants and nature and answer your questions!
What is the best way to see through the eyes of a child? Well, perhaps by reviewing thousands of images actually created by children. Our Wild Child Challenge on My Shot allows you to do just that! While running this assignment on Your Shot, we have simultaneously been running the Wild Child Challenge on My Shot, National Geographic’s photo-sharing platform for kids. Each day, I spend time reviewing images on both platforms, and it has been fun and fascinating to see the parallels and the differences between the images submitted.
One of the most interesting differences between the two assignments is that the My Shot photographers cannot include kids’ faces in their images. This means they have to find even more creative ways of sharing the experience of exploring nature. I’d love to see more images like these in the Your Shot mix:
One of my favorite images from the Wild Child Challenge, by @adreaminblue:
Here, siblings are taking photos of their shadows in the grass, by @equestrian5204:
What I find most interesting is how uninhibited young photographers are. They are not restricted by the “rules” of composition that more experienced photographers have had drummed into their heads. They have also been exposed to fewer photo books, photo exhibits, and photography websites, so they are less likely to mimic other images they have seen. Many of the images they create are surprising and refreshing, and I think that reviewing them can provide inspiration for this Your Shot aAssignment.
If you have some time, I encourage you to look at more submissions in the Wild Child Challenge and to think about how you can see and photograph more like a young photographer for the Your Shot Assignment.
Wonder and Curiosity
I’ve really enjoyed looking over your pictures for the past few days! Your images have made me smile and laugh out loud, but they have also made me nostalgic for my own childhood. I’ve been surprised by the wistful longing I have felt while looking at kids climbing trees, catching fireflies, and standing in the falling rain.
A few tips to help you as you continue to work on the assignment:
Show Wonder and Curiosity
In the submissions that have come in so far, I’m seeing a lot of pictures of children that do not really fit into the theme of the assignment. I am not simply looking for portraits of children; I am looking for images that tell a story about the wonder, joy, and curiosity that children experience when exploring nature and the outdoors. Try to tell a story with your images.
Some examples include:
Photograph by Dina Rosa
Photograph by Joanna Polling
Photograph by Stefano Spezi
Caption Your Images
I have enjoyed reading some of your captions and I would encourage everyone to add captions to your submissions. One community member wrote about what she felt while watching her daughter catch snowflakes and another wrote about the memory of playing with boats in the river as a child. These captions told me more about the images and gave meaning to them in the context of the assignment.
Don’t feel like you need to include children in every image that you submit for this assignment. You can zoom in to just show their hands or feet, or you can play with different perspectives to remind us what it is like to see the world as a child sees it.
Thank you all for your enthusiasm for this assignment and for submitting so many fantastic images. I look forward to seeing more!
Be a Kid Again
If you do have the chance to explore nature with any young people, they can submit their own photos to the Wild Child challenge on My Shot, the kid’s version of Your Shot. This assignment is simultaneously running on My Shot and I’ll be highlighting images from both platforms.
I am so excited to see your images from this assignment. Have fun, slow down, and rediscover the wonder of the outdoors.