This past week, I was approached by a friend and colleague who asked if I would be interested in giving a photography lesson to her daughter. Of course, I said I would. I love talking about photography, and I Iove hanging out with kids. It was a no-brainer.

Naturally, when the day came for the preteen and I to hang out, awkwardness ensued. But after a few one-word responses and a lot of banter coming from my end of the conversation, I was able to determine that Amy, whose name I’ve changed, was interested in still-life photography.

Great, we have something to work with! As a first assignment, I asked Amy to walk around the café and photograph things she thought were interesting. I waited patiently at a table until she quickly returned with a handful of images.

“There’s nothing interesting,” she said. “Really,” I responded, “nothing at all?” She shrugged.

So, I grabbed a paper plate. “Is this interesting?” I asked. “No,” she responded. “Well, shoot it until it becomes interesting.”

The result is the image below.

There are a couple of lessons here, which I shared with Amy:

1. Photography, like life, has very little to do with what you see and everything to do with the way you chose to see it. Sure, we could go through life thinking everything and everyone is boring and uninteresting. Or, radically, we could think that everything is beautiful and it’s our duty as photographers to find that beauty.

2. It’s easy to forget that our eyes not only see, but they project. We project our fears, our doubts, and our judgments on everything and everyone we come in contact with. However, if we suspend that judgment, even for 1/50 of a second, we can produce some pretty cool things.

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