A! Magazine for the Arts

Rising Third Grader Wins Photography Award

June 30, 2009

A photograph by 8-year-old Daniel Williams is part of an exhibition traveling throughout the Tri-Cities area.

Daniel is the son of Clint and Beth Williams of Bristol, Tenn. This fall he will be in the third grade at Haynesfield Elementary.

One of his pictures won the Youth Division in the 2009 Bays Mountain Photography Competition. The winning images were on display in Bristol until June 1. Currently they may be seen at a Johnson City art gallery (until July 2), then they will move to Fort Henry Mall, Kingsport, where they will be showcased through the end of September..

According to his mom, using a "still camera" and a "real camera" is a very recent interest for Daniel. Previously his photography/video approach was "just for fun." Using a camera phone, he and his friends made video clips -- "great epics" filmed with such refined subjects as spies and pirates, toy car and motorcycle collisions, Hot Wheels car races, and Star Wars adventures.

His mom says, "Daniel enjoys taking pictures with my digital Kodak Easy Share. He can see immediately what he has shot through the lens using the review feature. We purchased 400- and 800-speed disposable cameras for him to take his own pictures and to learn to be responsible with camera equipment, but the instant gratification he receives is what thrills him."

Daniel adds, "I like taking digital pictures the best because you can see what the picture looks like right away. Then you can put it on the computer and print it out or send it to somebody or save it on your desktop. This other boy in the Bays Mountain contest took a close-up picture of a toy antique model car and altered the colors on it so it looked like a real old car. That was pretty cool. I thought it was a picture of a real car."

In the past, Daniel took pictures of his toys, friends and family. More recently, he began taking pictures of landscapes and nature. "Okay, most of his pictures have had kites or styrofoam stunt planes in them, too," laughs his mother.

Daniel says, "I take pictures of my toys 'in action' and of cars -- mostly with flames painted on them -- at car shows. I like nature pictures best. Everything is beautiful. My pictures are colorful and real-looking. I like to get really close up on something so you can see it good."

Daniel gets "tips and pointers and stuff from Uncle Chuck, an amateur photographer who takes pictures at national parks and on weekend train trips. "He has a camera with a really close zoom that's not fuzzy," Daniel adds.

When Daniel heard about the Bays Mountain Photography Competition, he said, "That's something Uncle Chuck and I can have fun doing together." With the deadline for entry only a few days away, Daniel went to his uncle's house where he hoped to take some pictures of bugs. His uncle wasn't home from work yet, but his aunt handed Daniel their camera -- "wasn't that action a leap of faith!" Daniel's mother recalls.

A picture of a fly on Bradford Pear blossoms was Daniel's favorite. He titled it
"Where's the Fly?" -- like a "Where's Waldo" picture puzzle -- and received an Honorable Mention for it. Daniel was surprised that his second contest entry, "Lichen This," turned out to be the best, winning the Youth category.

It took a long time for Daniel to find a bug that would "stand still for a picture." That time, however, looking through Uncle Chuck's "real camera lens," opened a whole new world of details and patterns to Daniel. His mom says, "You can see the excitement in his eyes when he talks about taking the pictures that those were real 'A-HA moments' for him. Ever since Daniel took pictures with his uncle's camera, 'we' are now in the market for 'better' camera equipment."

She adds, "It's hard for me not to look at Daniel through the lens of a mother, but he truly is a wonderful person. He is genuine, memorable, likeable and fun. He has a lot of self-confidence. He sees something and just knows what he is going to do. That's what he tells me and it seems to work for him. Evidently it does not enter Daniel's mind that he can't do something or does not have the experience or credentials to do something. He just 'does it for the fun.' He tells me 'don't worry' when I try to help him. Many of his teachers have [told me] 'he has interesting ideas.' Daniel amazes me and others with his many, and still-to-discover, God-given gifts."

This summer, after going to the beach, Daniel plans to join the Twin City Photo Club in Bristol and he wants to enter the Rhythm and Roots Photo Contest this fall.

Would he like a career in photography? "Maybe. It is a lot of work to get one good picture."