It’s interesting, what causes us to remember. Smells, I know are very powerful triggers. A sound, or a piece of music. The feel of a certain texture. Or, in my case, a robin.
Recently a young lady contacted me to see if I would teach her how to be a photographer. I told her that I’d be happy to explain how a camera works, as best I could, and share some technical information, but as far as the actual act of making a photograph, not so much. I tried to explain that I had never been taught how to photograph, that is, when to click the shutter button and what to include in a composition. Therefore, it would be very hard for me to tell her about something I hadn't learned (in the traditional sense). The best way to learn photography, I offered, is to photograph.
And then, I shared this little story. When I was a child in the sixth grade we had an art teacher come to our classroom once a month for a lesson. On one particular occasion she assigned an exercise to draw a robin. They were very common where I grew up, as they are around here. Everyone knows what a robin looks like, so I guess she figured it was a reasonable subject.
When the teacher came around to inspect our work she stopped at my desk and asked to see my drawing which I dutifully shared. She told me the drawing was terrible and to tear it up and start over. I did as I was told. Some of my classmates had better luck and were encouraged to continue.
I could see the wheels turning in the eyes of the young lady who had asked me about photography. I asked her what she thought of my story. After a long pause she took a deep breath and replied.
“I guess I won’t photograph any robins.”