Photo Essay

Kendra Barber
5 min readMar 16, 2021

The Innocence of a Child

“Can we go play outside?” is always one of the first things she asks me as soon as she walks in the door. With spring right around the corner, the weather is starting to become favorable. But to a child, they don’t care if it’s too cold, too warm. They just want to play. “Not right now,” I reply. And she looks at me with the saddest puppy eyes. I tell her to sit and watch some tv while we waited for some other people to show up. “Patience is a virtue,” they say. But what does a child know? They want what they want, when they want it. Not having an understanding of the concept of one’s time is a luxury I believe we have all taken for granted.

“Come on Savannah, let’s go!” Her face instantly lit up. She’s an only child that does preschool from behind a computer screen, so she longs for any kind of physical interaction she can get. We slowly walked through the yard as she explained to me her favorite Paw Patrol characters, one of them, she’s holding in her hand. Hearing her ramble on made me laugh. She loves to talk, and I answered, without hesitation, any random question she threw at me. Children are curious. Very curious. They wonder about the world around them and look for someone to give them answers. I’ve come to realize that as we grow older, that curiosity slowly starts to fade away, at least for most people. I wonder why that is.

Her eyes eventually landed on the blue ball. It was like it became her most prized possession. We tossed it back and forth. She wouldn’t let that ball go. Every few minutes, she was coming up with some new game or way to play with it. I threw it up in the air, and she tried to catch it time after time, but could never seem to get a good grip on it when it fell to the ground. And she thought it was the funniest thing ever. Her constant “failures” didn’t bother her at all. Each time she missed, she would laugh it off, and ask to try again. And again. And again. I think there’s a lesson to be learned from that.

Then came the bubbles. I watched as she struggled to grasp the concept of trying to blow into the wand. It immediately brought me back to my own child, and had me reminiscing about a time that was much simpler. And easier. After I gave her some guidance on what to do, she finally got the hang of it. She quickly understood how easily the bubbles popped, and took extra care to be gentle with them, placing her hands out slowly so they would land on her, almost like a butterfly. Children find joy in the most simplest things. That two dollar bubble wand was the highlight of her entire day, and she was so excited when I told her she could take it home with her. In the short time we played outside, I realized how precious life really is. The innocence of a child is much more valuable than I ever would have imagined.

For this week, we were tasked with coming up with a narrative and storyboard to accompany a set of photos. So since I was going home to visit for my sister’s birthday, I decided to take advantage of this time because I knew the family was going to be gathered, and this could make for a good story. I took tons of photos, but the ones that stuck out to me the most were the ones of my niece, Savannah. And so I decided to create a story based off of the time I spent with her outside.

Brainstorming:

After looking at all of the pictures I took of her, I started brainstorming on how I wanted to put the story together. I used a mind map to recount everything that happened during the time we played outside. Then I got rid of all the smaller details, and picked out the main parts that I wanted to actually include in the narrative.

Storyboard:

In order to get the most out of the story, I needed to also visually represent some of the events I picked out from the mind map. To make the storyboard, I created sketches based off the photos I took, which helped to layout the story as the events unfolded. It also gave me a visual reference to go back and look at while I was writing, which also helped to make the writing more descriptive.

Reflection:

I’m no writer by any means, but this probably one of the most eye opening things I’ve written. It definitely made me reflect and think back to how my own childhood was, which brought both sadness and happiness. But aside from that, this assignment was one of my favorites so far. The entire process from start to finish was fun, and I enjoyed venturing outside of my comfort zone.

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Kendra Barber

graphic designer @ a fin tech startup, grad student @ nyu, aspiring uxe