Inside the Newsroom

News, commentary, insight on local happenings and fun from the staff of The Saline Reporter and Milan News-Leader.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Anatomy of a photo

I had not been to the Taste of Belleville in a long time, maybe a decade or more, when I agreed last year to cover the event with my wife Jan.

It was among the earliest of our joint reporter/photographer assignments, and we were in the early stages of learning to work together. I recall suggesting photo angles for her during last year’s bridge walk, as the walkers began to march toward us, crossing the bridge.
Jan had a different perspective on the photos than I did, and I quickly realized that she was correct, even as the walkers approached us.

By then, she had begun to develop an eye and a sense of how to compose an effective scene with a photo, and I backed off. I still make suggestions, but she can take them or leave them – I trust her judgment, and it’s one less thing I have to worry about. She’s a good partner out there.

We mixed business and pleasure last year, as our children and our grandson Noah, who was only three months old at the time, joined us for the event. It worked out OK, but I felt I shortchanged them and me by covering the event.

This year, I suggested to Austen that someone else cover the event, and he agreed. I had in mind a visit to the Taste of Belleville with my family, this time without the responsibility.
We had a wonderful time. Matthew arrived a bit early with Noah, and we traveled to Belleville after spending a little time at home.

What a difference a year made – no longer in a stroller, Noah walked around Horizon Park under supervision, and he had a wonderful time, as did I.

At one point, he picked up a stick lying in the grass, and proudly showed it to me, with a look of anticipation. When we go for walks, he’s keen on grabbing a stick on the sidewalk and dragging it on the sidewalk below as he rides in the cart that I push. He's in front of me, and as we walk I can watch him.

Later, Noah and I walked on the sidewalk on High Street, in the direction of the gazebo.
I followed close behind, but I’d just as soon he explore with minimal help from me. My job is to keep him safe, and to direct as needed.

At one point, he came upon a little girl happily seated in a child’s cart. She gave him a friendly smile, but I realized in a moment what was about to occur.

He has a similar cart at home, and he wanted to enjoy it. He walked up to the little girl, gabbed the steering wheel at an angle, and began to climb into the seat.

I think he would have sat down on her had he been allowed to continue, and would clearly have preferred that the little girl remove herself altogether, enabling him to more comfortably enjoy her cart.

I picked him up, apologized to the little girl, and we walked on.

After a bit, Noah got hungry, and we went for something to eat. My daughter Kelly joined us shortly thereafter, and it was a great visit – it’s so good to see my children.

After dinner, the kids took Noah down to the lake, walking out on the docks below Johnny’s Grill to see the water and the ducks.

Noah was fascinated, and they spent several minutes down there, just enjoying the scene and the delightful summer weather.

My daughter Kelly took some photos of the scene, including the one that you see, with my son Matthew on the left, and his son Noah on the right.

It was a striking image, one that I will remember for some time.

For me, it conjures images of summer, of time with family, of community, of nature, and the ongoing process of discovery for the little guy on the right, who will do so under the guidance of people who love him.

Many thanks to the sponsors and supporters of the Taste of Belleville for providing a fun, welcoming context in which this can occur. Like the commercial says, it was priceless.

Gerald LaVaute is a staff writer for Heritage Newspapers. He can be reached at or call 1-734-429-7380. Check out our staff blog at


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