Through the Window: POV

24 Jan

WindowThis summer, we gave our 4-year-old a kid’s camera for his birthday.  I’ve seen plenty of portraits, and too many pictures of apartments as we’ve looked for places to live.  I have an idea of what photos ought to look like, and I know what subjects I’d snap a shutter at.

They weren’t the same things my 4-year-old photographed.  He took uncounted pictures of shadows across the carpet: shadows from the box fan, shadows from chairs, shadows from blinds.  He took a dozen more pictures through the window of his daddy driving off to work.  Despite standing on tip-toe, he captured as much windowsill as parking lot in his frame.

The photos of his brother are close-up, all eyes and nose, or just his toes peeking out from the blanket at nap time.  More pictures document the window in his bedroom, looking out to houses we’ve never stepped foot in.

I was surprised by these results.  I’d expected off-focus pictures like the ones I might take.  Instead, I saw photos where he missed his father, loved his brother, or wondered about what lay beyond his home.

These pictures still make me reflective about point-of-view, or POV — the person a story is told through, whether it’s first person (“I crossed the room”) or third (“Jane crossed the room”).

In the details and tone selected, exposition can describe the POV-character as much as it does setting, letting every word pull double weight.  No two people will describe a room the same way.  The person who notices the patterns of shadow on the carpet is not the same person who frets over dust on the windowsill.  Describing mysterious, unexplored houses beyond the window reveals a different POV character than a description of the thankfully cool morning air over a quiet town.

I’m glad that, through a camera, I was able to see snapshots through my child’s view.


Posted by on January 24, 2013 in Family, photography, POV


12 responses to “Through the Window: POV

  1. stephanieberget

    January 24, 2013 at 6:47 AM

    MK, what a great idea and a reminder to look again at POV.

  2. Corina

    January 24, 2013 at 7:00 AM

    What a great post and, yes, a beautiful way of reminding us of the power of POV.

  3. Janis McCurry

    January 24, 2013 at 7:09 AM

    In many ways, the old adage, “Youth is wasted on the young,” holds true. But, not in this case. We should all try to focus on how the character’s viewpoint is key to a scene.

  4. Peggy Staggs

    January 24, 2013 at 8:06 AM

    POV is so important especially in mystery.
    What a great idea to give your 4 year old a camera. To get a glimpse into how he sees the world and what he think is important. I hope you keep them.

    • MK Hutchins (@mkhutchins)

      January 24, 2013 at 2:34 PM

      We have a big file of his pictures…I’m interested to see what he think of them a decade from now.

  5. Judith Keim

    January 24, 2013 at 8:35 AM

    MK, Before I even read through your blog I was enchanted by the photo and then when I read that your 4-year-old took it, I loved it even more. I love seeing things from different angles and your idea of what this picture meant to him is charming. It’s a good reminder for me to give different meanings to what my characters see. Thanks!

    • MK Hutchins (@mkhutchins)

      January 24, 2013 at 2:32 PM

      That is one of the things I love about books. You’re right — it really is just my idea of what he’s thinking, based on the photos, things he’s said, body language, etc. In books, we get to jump into the truth of someone’s head. Glad you liked his picture. 🙂

  6. Jennifer

    January 24, 2013 at 8:38 AM

    I recently started rewriting my WIP in first person to see what it would be like. So far, I like the air of mystery it gives to the hero since you’re not sure what he’s thinking unless he says it. We’ll see what happens…

  7. Susan Russo Anderson

    January 24, 2013 at 8:41 AM

    Wow, great idea!

  8. maryvine

    January 24, 2013 at 10:01 AM

    Great post! It made me think about what I see and how it transforms into what I write.

  9. Lynn Mapp

    January 24, 2013 at 7:45 PM

    I loved your post! Those photos are treasures.


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