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Is This A Good Picture?

by Step on May 14, 2012

The Value of A Picture

In a previous work life, I directed a small summer camp for kids. The camp counselors were seasonal employees and in a given year it was not unusual for as many as half of them to be new to their role. The week of training we provided as summer began would make or break the quality of the program. In addition to the sessions on policy and procedure we had to cover, I invited experts to speak to us on child-development.

One summer I asked my friend Steve to speak to us about the value of encouraging creativity in kids. His talk was scheduled to occur after dinner. As was often the case with the evening sessions, my wife and two young kids came along. The kids would color quietly while Jess and I listened, and in this way we would have a few minutes together before the kids went to bed.

Steve sat with us on the back row as one of the other leaders shared the evening’s agenda. When his introduction had been made, Steve stood to walk to the front of the room. As he stepped into the aisle, a little arm reached up and offered him a sheet of paper. Steve took the paper and held it in front of him, studying it as he walked.

When he reached the lectern he turned and held the paper up for everyone to see. On it were a few squiggly lines that might have resembled a house, a family, and a guy named Steve. Looking past the faces of sixty college students, he caught the gaze of a four year old girl.

“Rachel Katharine, this is a very good picture!”

The Value of A Picture Redux

This scene came to mind last week after a picnic with my younger daughter. Because it was overcast and breezy out, we spent most of our time sitting in the car. On the way home we stopped by my office to pick up a few things. As she waited for me to pack up, Sophie drew a picture of our car picnic on my whiteboard.

I have to confess, I’ve never really understood how Steve was able to say what he did so earnestly. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been very grateful for his words and I’ve done my best to emulate him. Still, his voice conveyed a sincerity I haven’t been able to reproduce. I realized this week I’ve been confusing a picture’s value with its quality.

Pictures are meant to show us something true about the world. Good pictures show us something beautiful.

In my work I am often discouraged. The job is hard and things rarely go as planned. Now, when I look up from my desk I see a few squiggly lines. They tell me that somewhere in the world is a little girl who would like nothing better than to go eat with her daddy. There is something beautiful in the world that is just for me.

Sophie Jayne, this is a very good picture.

My Picture For You

I am trying to take a lesson from Steve and my girls. Last week I published a small ebook. It is a modest book in both quality and size. My hope is it’s value lies in neither of these.

This little book is meant to be a picture. It is meant to show something true, something beautiful, something just for you.

I would be honored if you would read it and answer the following question:

Is this a good picture?

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Annie May 15, 2012 at 3:18 am

Love this, Stephen!!! Thank you so much for sharing- it is exactly what I needed to read tonight. And don’t worry- I haven’t forgotten about ya- I’ve written up my info and am having a writer friend look over it and then I’ll send it your way!

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Step May 15, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Thanks, Annie. I appreciate your feedback.

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