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  • Writer's picturePaul Cotter

The Inner Child

Updated: May 29

In his wonderful book The Power of Photography, Peter Fetterman told a story about Ruth Bernhard, the famous photographer who lived to age 101. Ruth wrote down her eight secrets to a long and happy life, with this bit of advice near the very top of her list: “Hold on to the child in you.”

I couldn’t agree more. One day, I spent 45 blissful minutes tossing stones into a creek with our granddaughter. We delighted in observing the ripples expand across the water … watching what happened to the ripples if two, three or four stones were tossed at once … and listening to the different “plunking” sounds made by tiny pebbles compared to larger rocks.

Whenever I watch her five-year-old mind at play, whether she’s blowing bubbles or collecting leaves or lobbing stones into the water, I’m inspired by her boundless wonder and curiosity.

Ruth Bernhard isn’t saying we need to spend time with children in order to be happy or become a better photographer. She’s reminding us that we were all children ourselves at one time. When we allow ourselves to reconnect with our inner child, it’s a wellspring of joy and creativity.

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