Hailee’s memory today is our mutual love of photography. I gave Hailee her first camera when she was little more than a toddler and from a young age, I taught her how to take good photographs. She was always good at composition, though her choice of subject was questionable when she was really young.
I can’t tell you how many photos exist of her shoes and feet from when she was young. She was especially fond of taking photos of her feet up in the air while she was laying down. I tried many times to get her to set up photographs but it would be many years before that would happen. One of the ways I have witnessed her photography skills grow is at our family reunions. For the first several years, I took most of the photos at the reunions and was in charge of taking all of the group photos on Sunday morning-ish. Over the years, Hailee started taking more and more of the photos over the weekend, first with my camera and then with her own. She started helping me get the group photos set up a few years ago but last year, she took the photos and I assisted her. It’s not easy coordinating more than 20 different photographs between the different families and getting more than 40 people and an assortment of dogs posed and ready for the full family photo. She did it all with a smile on her face.
While she had a point and shoot when she was young, I also let her use my DSLR frequently when I was visiting. It surprised many that I would let someone so young use the camera but I always had one rule: to keep the neck strap around her neck. She took to photography quickly and loved learning more about what makes a good photograph. Entering her photographs for 4-H every year was great for building her skills even when the write ups were like pulling teeth. She always excelled at being able to tell a story with her photography and her photo series submissions each year are a testament to her skill.
In the past few years, Hailee has really blossomed in her photography. Where our conversations had been about how to take better photographs when she was younger, now they are about how to be more creative with her photography. This is the second year that she has created photo based projects and sold them to others. Last year, it was a calendar of images of her Scottish Highland cow, Kevin. This year she expanded her efforts to include a book for young children, combining her desire to teach young children and her love of photography and Kevin. She has also recently started doing some portrait photography and is enjoying it immensely. I enjoy our conversations about the sessions and the ways she has edited the photos. And I’m excited about the plans we have for her photos for next summer. Her dad should probably be a little concerned about some of our plans.