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.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window.

Technique: D700 with 105mm Nikkor lens; 3200 ISO; south Bristol; 26 Apr 2009.

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? .





  1. It’s a wonderful image which captures a very special moment in time. Isn’t it just fab that you were there with your camera at that very moment?!! Great stuff, my friend 🙂


    • Yes, it was very lucky – but also partly due to the fact that, in those pre-covid days, my camera and I were always welcome in the girl’s home, and I photographed her and her sister right from their earliest days – and, wonderfully her parents have always been completely ok with my posting their pics on my blog – which in these uptight and politically correct days is a rare glimmer of a previous, far more relaxed and far less complex normality. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, goodness yes – a ‘far more relaxed and far less complex normality’ is right. The older I get the more of a misfit I feel in this modern world. Maybe all of us feel this at some point. I got called a ‘busy body’ today. I’m having that as a badge of honour 🙂


        • Yes, it probably is an age thing and its logical, isn’t it >>> we were “formed” in earlier decades and attitudes etc have evolved since then, for better or worse; when we were young, oldies must also have seemed to us to be from another world.

          That said, and with the experience of having lived in a foreign society “under my belt”, I do feel that society here is becoming far too uptight and rushed. We look at Trump and wonder where America has arrived at and, equally, I look at Political Correctness and wonder where the UK is.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I like the image from a compositional standpoint very much, and I don’t care at all about the blasted-out whites. They are just not where the eye goes. I like the diagonal lines repeated by your young friend’s finger in her mouth, the angle of her pencil, the angle of the edge of the paper, and the placement of the subject in the frame. How wonderful that you had your camera at just this moment, and knew to use it!


    • Linda, thank you very much for these points – which for the diagonals I hadn’t before been aware of – and which I certainly didn’t plan for. All of this happened quite quickly, and I just had to blast away >>> thank goodness for digital >>> in film days this would have been the moment when I realised I’d finished the film!!! 🙂


  3. As a retired preschool, kindergarten and first grade teacher, this really makes me smile. Yes, I agree. The fascination here is not the quality of the photography as much as it’s the subject and her reaction. I sat with children of this age for years, and the process and understanding of letters and sounds was one of the most amazing parts of my day.

    Plus she’s adorable!



    • Excellent!!! >>> I’m really glad that this strikes a chord with you, Gem >>> oh great stuff!!!!

      Adorable, yes, but I think she’s now 15, and looking me straight in the eye, and fast becoming formidable, so that I’m now considering calling her Sir ……. 🙂 🙂 🙂 … purely for reasons of self-preservation … you understand …

      Liked by 1 person

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