My four-year-old is my photography partner in crime

September 19 | Guest post by Tricia King
All photos by Tricia King.

This is a story about having to make the most of every second. It's also the story of how art is everywhere and made by everyone. Sometimes it takes a special person to come along and see everything as art. Sometimes lack of time forces you to see beauty all around.

This is the story of Cody and me.

I'll set the scene. She's four. I'm to the right of thirty. When she was three I was pregnant with her sister Mika. I was working full-time. I was taking photographs in every second that I wasn't either working full-time, crashing out early because of the exhaustion of pregnancy, playing puzzles and reading picture books with her, or making dinners.

I was so time poor that if I wanted to keep being creative then I'd just have to take Cody along for the ride with me because there wasn't time for both. We hatched a plan to make a book and together we photographed and created our first book "The Alphabet Two Ways" where we both took photographs of the same subject for each letter of the alphabet. We had a big launch party with all our friends and we gave away our books to kindergartens, schools, libraries and random kids we saw. We were inspired.

Cody proudly talks about her book to anyone who asks — she tells them how she set up O is for Orange or where she got the jacket which features for the letter J. We have plans to make a second book soon — Cody wants it to be a how to guide on how to clean your room but I think she needs to practice a little more first.

I gave Cody her first camera at two. The sales guy threw the camera as hard as he could into the ground and said "see, she'll never break it" and I bought it on the spot.

Cody loves the camera. She loves the way it makes her look at things. Her style is loose and instinctive. She's not afraid to hit the floor to take get the right angle and she's not afraid to take photographs of strangers. For the first year of her shooting every image had her finger in the corner. We'd have the images loaded on our computer and they'd flash up as a slideshow. She'd see the finger and yell "that's my shot!" like her finger was a branding logo which made it instinctively hers.

She's learned both how to see the world as it is — to find the bit she wants to feature and select her view accordingly — but also to construct an image to photograph. But it's more than just that. It's also about a shared vision that she builds with me and a language we connect with. It's what we do. In true form she says proudly "my name is Cody Danger and I like to take photographs".

This series started as a playful look at everyday objects shot two ways but it developed into a piece more about our relationship to each other and photography. We turned the camera on each other more than we turned it on the world.

  1. WHAT a great idea for a book!

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  2. What a wonderful, sweet mama-daughter bonding/creative endeavor. Absolutely love it. Never stop taking pictures, Cody ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  3. I love this!!! My 4 year old daughter got the camera attachment for her leapster explorer for Christmas last year and I love looking at the pictures she takes.

  4. This actually brought tears to my eyes. I just gave my almost 2 year old his first camera and while it doesn't work and he's kinda scared of it we have brief moments where we "shoot" together.

  5. Awesome. I am a single mom in my fourth year of art school. My son is 11 and loves creativity. We've done paintings together, life drawing, sculpture, and now that I'm doing introduction to photography, he is right there with me wanting to learn how to use the cameras. We've been taking pin hole camera photos over the past week. Now there is a super cool way to amaze your kid (and yourself)!

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  6. Can you share the camera she used at age 2?

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  7. This is brillant. It seems like such a simple idea, yet here I am kicking myself for never thinking of doing this. What a stellar way to teach kids about beauty and creativity! You rock. I'm also curious about what camera you got for her at 2, my son is three and isn't nearly as interested in his "kid-tough" type camera as he is in my point and shoot. Thank you for sharing!

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  8. That is so fantastic. The idea of combining kid-time and creative-time seems so obvious yet at the same time I'm sure is something I would never have thought of on my own. And the product you came out with has so much to say that neither of you could have done on your own! Beautiful.

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  9. This is such a beautiful idea. I also love reading a submission from a reader in my home town. I recognised Brisbane as soon as I saw the dinosaur pictures.

  10. This is so wonderful! My son comes with me to all my photoshoots, and he has to be in at least 2 pictures with whomever we're photographing :-) He's five and adores using my cell phone as his own personal camera. This inspires me to get him his own, I can't wait to see what he comes up with! A book of his pictures, you're so smart!!!!

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  11. Wow thanks everyone for the kind words. I'm thrilled it's touched so many people.

    Lynn, she uses an Olympus UTough – I think Panasonic has an equivalent these days also (which they have pitched at extreme sportspeople but the workout between toddlers and extreme sportspeople would be fairly similar!).

    To everyone who has children taking photos, I'm starting up a website called A MINOR EXPOSURE which is going to feature the art of kid photographers! Some interviews about what they love, monthly challenges, and just trying to inspire them to keep going. My facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/TheItchyEyes) is where I'm going to post initial details so drop me a message if you are keen to be involved!

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  12. Very cool! Photography is one of my hobbies that I'm hoping to share with my son. He's not two yet but he already loves to help push the button. Thanks for sharing what brand of camera. I can't wait to get him his own.

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