Posted by: Liz Massey | July 1, 2008

Surf’s Up: Creativity links for July 1, 2008

A new viewpoint for photography projects, a provocative set of poems and an essay about living in the creative shadow of one’s parents round out our gathering of links from the creative blog-o-sphere for this week. Let’s go!

1. Pete over at My GPS Camera Phone blog can always be counted on to write quirky, thought-provoking posts. In the last week, he posted about letting his daughters photograph things using his camera phone and his other cameras.

He notes this trend was started one day as he picked his children up from Montessori school.

“I noticed a lot of interesting black-and-white photos hanging on the walls. They looked so artfully done that I started to wonder about the photographer. Then I realized a common trait shared by all of them: the perspective was about thigh-high. Kids, I thought. What a brilliant idea.

“Since that day, I have always let both girls take photos from the day they could hold a camera enough for me to trust them. There’s something about a photo taken by a child that evokes a feeling that no adult can capture. Kids take photos of things that the average person wouldn’t think of shooting. A television while it’s on, a toilet, a ceiling fan or the family pet while they’re eating. They bring a real-life quality to photos that professionals work to perfect over their entire careers.”

I like Pete’s post on two levels. First, I think he’s right-on letting his children learn early how to handle the tools of an artistic discipline with care and responsibility. Secondly, his emphasis of the freshness of the “kid’s-eye view” is a wonderful chance for adult creative folk to experiment with the viewpoint of a child.

Try this:

Got a camera? Walk around for a few moments on your knees (or squat!) and take photos at thigh-level. What do you notice from that height about your photographic subjects that you miss standing all the way up? Try this with sketching, or videography. Even writers can experiment with writing something from this viewpoint!

2. Writer and photographer Dave Bonta, who is the creator of the Via Negativa blog, has created a delightful 12-part series of poems to be placed in public places. Most of them are droll, with a touch of seriousness and respect when appropriate. If you’ve ever wondered what words really sum up the experience of a library, a hospital waiting room, a city bus, an abandoned factory or the urinals of a men’s restroom, Dave has something apt to say about each of those places, and a few more.

If you find his series on public places compelling, check out his series of poems that are odes to tools. I absolutely love a poet who can bring out the extraordinary in the ordinary, or even the banal.

3. Finally, Elaine over at Musical Assumptions has written a very well done post about growing up in the musical shadow of her father, Burton Fine, former principal violist of the Boston Symphony. Although Elaine has certainly become (from the looks of her blog!) quite an accomplished musician herself, her experiences have definitely shaped her development in music.

She writes,

“I certainly knew from a very young age that (my father) was the principal violist of the Boston Symphony and that he was an important person. He wasn’t like other people’s fathers. He kept different hours from the other fathers I knew, and other people’s fathers didn’t spend hours in the basement practicing. Other people’s fathers wore suits to work, and mine wore tails…Other families went to the cape in the summer, but our family always went to Tanglewood…

”When I came of musical age it became important to me for grown up people to appreciate me for what I could do, and not for who my father was, but it was not really possible.”

I can relate to Elaine’s predicament, if only slightly. My father and sister have carved out semi-professional careers in music, and it was clear to me early on that as much as I loved (and continue to love) performing in musical ensembles, I was better off focusing my professional artistic aspirations elsewhere. I don’t think my family members intended this, but I believe dealing with this shadow Elaine talks about is an issue any artist’s child must face and overcome.

If you enjoy Elaine’s post about her dad, you can also hear the other side of the story, as she has also posted an interview with her father,conducted by Brian Bell of WGBH.



  1. Thanks for the links to my series. I really appreciate the mention.

  2. Cool, thanks for linking! I like the point you make about getting down low. It works for any profession, if you think about it.

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