the viewfinder (and why I take so many photos)

I feel like I’ve always had a camera in my hand, but this is the first one I remember.


It was a Fisher Price camera with those flash sticks that would pop and burn out. I still remember it made this pretty loud clicking sound, and I think I had to manually advance the film with a dial. The film was different too. It didn’t come in the little round cylinder like I remember later – it was in a wrapper. And of course – I would have to be very careful about how many photos I took because film was expensive and so was developing it. But I would be so excited to get the photos back to see what I got.

Then skip ahead to many years later – all the way to high school. I took several art classes and the first assignment in the first class was to make a viewfinder. It wasn’t really impressive in looks – basically a simple square cut out of a square. But it opened up a whole new world for me. I learned that you never really draw a tree. You draw a trunk. Then you draw branches. Then you draw leaves. And suddenly all those pieces become a tree. The idea of drawing a tree might seem overwhelming, but drawing lines in the shape of a trunk isn’t too scary. It seems – even possible.

Now fast forward to me out of college, with my first job and my first puppy, and I start learning about clicker training. Which is basically taking a snapshot of a behavior that you like – so Piper would understand – “Yes! That’s right – that’s what I wanted – right there. Yay!” And shaping is capturing small behaviors until you get the whole picture you’re looking for. Almost like a viewfinder that helps you see the positive – the achievable.

And so why do I take so many photos? Well – it’s partly just because I love my dogs. If “just” really belongs in that sentence. But also – taking photos reminds me to see the beauty in everything around me. Sometimes the whole scene isn’t always perfect. But there are pieces of it that are. And it’s so so important to focus on that. Capture those moments. That beauty. That love. Treasure it all. And hold onto it with everything you have.




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