And What Do You Think?


And What Do You Think?

On Sunday afternoon, our friend Jazz and his son Danny came for a visit. I wrote about Danny a few weeks ago. On the previous visit, Danny asked me a question, “Do plants think?” I told him that I would write about this subject in my weekly “Encounters”. His immediate response was – “You can make your next book, answering my questions”. Danny is eight. We became friends with his father about five years ago through a chance meeting and share a love of photography. Jazz is divorced, lives in Palo Alto and shares custody of his son. In the past, he would come on the weekends when Danny was with his mother, and we went for walks, having conversations like father and son (Jazz is forty).

As Danny grew, he started coming along. Upon their arrival, Danny informed me that he has no questions for me this time. We went for a walk with our dog Max to a neighborhood café on West Portal. The conversation was about school and summer vacation. Last year, Danny spent it on a trip to Armenia, where his grandparents live. This year he had to stay home, and his father tried to encourage Danny to learn something in his free time. “What about photography?” he suggested. Because Danny is a very smart kid, I was not surprised by his answer, though it was unexpected. “I have some interest in photography, but I am not ready yet. It might be a gradual process like increasing voltage in an LED light (He learned about that from his engineer father). “Would you like to go back to school?” I asked. Before Danny could answer, his father, who has conservative views on the idea of opening schools in September, had a concerned look on his face. However, before he was able to inject his opinion, I asked Danny, “And what do you think?” “I want to go back to school”, Danny said. “Why?” I asked. “You can study at home on the computer?” “Yes,” he answered, “but I like math, and at home I am the boss. After I finish my homework, there is no one to challenge me. At school, my teacher is the boss, and during recess, I can play with my friends.

On the way home, I was using my small camera to bring Danny’s attention to the trees and flowers. We talked about intricate designs on the tree trunks; how the annual flowers after fading, away drop seeds in the ground to return the following year; how bees collect pollen, and the only way to show all of this to others was to use a photo camera. How a powerful microscope can see deeper than seeds and to capture this we need special cameras. During these discussions Danny’s interest for photography grew. He was right – every child needs a “boss”, a teacher who will guide a child’s natural interests.

P.S. Seeing a flower lying on the pavement and another one on the bush, I asked him which one would look better as a photograph? He said that the grey pavement on the sidewalk could serve as a beautiful background. A child of eight can understand beauty. But I also pointed out to him that as a skilled photographer, I can change the background to make images more interesting. I hope you will see the beauty, which I produced in the four images under Danny’s influence. You can see more of my beautiful flowers on my Instagram account.

Please share the beauty with others!

Manny Signature