We were visiting friends when their elder daughter, whom we like very much, suddenly started asking her parents about how words are written.  She knew how letters and combinations of letters sound and how they look when written down, but she’d never equated the two before.

A few words of explanation from her parents and –   to the vast astonishment of everyone present – she just started phonetically pronouncing words and then writing them all over large pieces of scrap paper on the floor!

I had my camera to hand, and a unique occasion was recorded.  This is not a good picture photographically, but in this sort of instance that doesn’t worry me at all – and I love her tentative, slightly doubtful expression.

26 Apr 2009; D700 with 105mm Nikkor; 3200 ISO.

UPDATE: yes, photographically, in technical terms, this is not a good picture.  But it is nevertheless a very valuable picture, and especially so to the girl and her family – here is a fundamental achievement on her part, a fundamental moment in her life.  Which feeds into one of my core beliefs about photography – that by far the most important aspect of an image is its content – have interesting / striking / meaningful content, and the technicalities come a very, very long way second.

So, ok, let’s turn this on its head.  Here’s a meaningful image that is technically imperfect.  Who would rather have a meaningless image that is technically perfect? .

About Adrian Lewis
Photographer working in monochrome, colour and combinations of the two - with a great liking for all sorts of images, including Minimalism, landscapes, abstracts, soft colour, people, movement, nature - I like to be adventurous in my photography, trying new ideas and working in many genres. And I'm fond of Full English Breakfasts and Duvel golden ale, though not necessarily together.


  1. bluebrightly says:

    Her expression, the graininess, the composition, the over-bright light – all wonderful here!


  2. Sonali Dalal says:

    As you know i am not much for technical perfection. That sometimes make thing plastic like. Little imperfection here and there make world more interesting! And I love this the expression on girl’s face!


  3. paula graham says:

    Certainly for her and for you a very special moment, very nice to have on the record and for her later life.


  4. What an exciting moment to capture – beautiful, and one I’m sure she will appreciate in years to come 🙂 🙂


    • Adrian Lewis says:

      I’ve known both this girl and her younger sister all their lives and taken a great many photos of them, the better of which have gone into albums and Blurb books for them to keep. A 🙂


  5. Sallyann says:

    Oh, no contest. Give me the meaningful image everytime. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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