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If We Could Only Bottle Our Kids' Joy!

If We Could Only Bottle Our Kids' Joy!

If there were a way to bottle joy, someone would be rich. We’d see billboards plastered everywhere, infomercials hawking the commodity, and venture capitalists fighting one another for the best way to cash in. If there were a way to bottle young kids’ joy, someone would be over-the-moon-and-back-again rich. Nothing is better than pure giggles of delight from your child, smiles that stretch so wide they look like they might hurt, and that glistening gleam in your baby’s eyes that just oozes wonder and happiness. Don’t get me wrong—adults can be happy too. But nothing compares to the untainted, innocent joy of youth. 

Capturing the Joy

Ever since I was a kid I was fascinated by what a camera could do. I flipped through my mother’s glossy magazines and art books in the library in awe of emotions captured in flat pictures. I can appreciate the artistic value in raw or journalistic photography endeavors (one of my biggest professional thrills was getting to publish photographs from renowned talent Mary Ellen Marks) and I’ve turned my camera on many an inanimate object in my life. Yet it’s the elusive moment of emotion—especially overflowing joy—that I feel compelled to try to capture. ‘Try’ may be the operative word here, for truly capturing those moments is not always easy, and it’s often the result of luck. Of course, luck has a better chance of prevailing when we’re persistent. The advent of digital cameras, now ubiquitous, made that way easier (and cheaper!) as we can click away to our hearts’ content and never have to worry about using up a roll of film or paying to develop far too many shots. If we click the shutter often enough, we’re bound to get something good, right?!  

A Photographer Is Born


I have a very vivid memory, and I recall many Christmas mornings as a kid being thrilled with my gifts. There was only one childhood holiday present I begged for, though: the Canon Snappy camera, which was advertised all over television and in the pages of my Seventeen magazines at the time. I never would have thought I could have a real camera at the age of 10 (wow, times have changed…cell phones for kindergarteners, anyone?)—but then the point-and-shoot Snappy was marketed directly to me, it seemed. It came in a rainbow of colors that made it look more like a toy than a tool (though of course I wanted the black one, lest I seem too much like a kid!). I carried this camera everywhere with me. I saved my money to buy 35mm film and get it developed. I became the de facto family photographer.

And then, like now, I was always more drawn to candid moments—the unexpected, the mundane made interesting—over posed shots, even on vacation. In a few years I graduated to the iconic Canon AE-1 camera, hailed as "the world's first 35 mm Auto-Exposure (AE) SLR camera equipped with a Central Processing Unit (CPU)." I spent more time learning how to take shots with artistic merit, but my goal remained to capture the joy on people's faces and even in the way they carried themselves. To this day I am a Canon devotee (my current obsession is my Canon EOS Rebel).

These days my most popular subject is my son—surprise, surprise. It's not only because he's mine and I'm proud; it's also that, as I've written before, joy literally oozes out of his pores, and I find myself wanting to capture that—for me, and for him. Maybe he'll have a day when he's down and my pictures will lift his spirits. Maybe someday when he's a parent himself he'll reconnect with his boyhood spirit. Maybe I'll need to peer at them when he's going through a rebellious teenage phase and clammed up on me. No matter, thanks to my trusty Canons over the years, I've got a library full of joy.  

It seems my son is almost always in motion in my favorite shots of him—guess that's when he's happiest!

It seems my son is almost always in motion in my favorite shots of him—guess that's when he's happiest!


Proof that adults can be happy, too—my grandmother sure derives joy from her great-grandson!

Proof that adults can be happy, too—my grandmother sure derives joy from her great-grandson! 


Do Tell:

What is your one go-to pose or shot that you just know will always be good? Do you resort to tickling to get a genuine smile?  


Help Spread Joy!

Post your favorite pictures of your KIDS' JOY on our Facebook page and you may see them in a future roundup!    

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Dawn M. Roode


Dawn M. Roode was formerly editorial director of NYMetroParents, where she launched the award-winning semi-annual magazine Special Parent. She was managing editor at Parenting, BabyTalk, Child, Harper's Bazaar, and Latina magazines. She is a strategic content specialist and currently writes and edits parenting, health, travel, and special needs features for various media outlets. Roode is mom to one son and recently relocated from Brooklyn to the suburbs of New York City. Follow her on Twitter @DawnRoode.

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