There are few things in life that are more special than the bond between grandparents and grandchildren. They are friends, mentors and teachers; they have shoulders to lean on; they almost always have some baked goods or ice cream on hand.
Alex McInnis and his 12-year-old granddaughter, Lexy Richardson, are creating memories and strengthening their bond through a shared love: photography.
For McInnis, photography started as a hobby when he was about 19.
"I got my first 35-mm camera, and I was taking pictures of everything, and everybody," he said. "Just before I retired, I bought a fairly good DSLR camera, and that was the start of it right there."
This summer, Lexy began to join him on his early morning excursions to photograph the birds of Virginia Lake, in the east end of St. John's. It's an activity which they, along with other bird photographers, refer to as "birding."
"There's always a lot of interesting birds. Sometimes there's rare ones, and other times there's just a lot of ducks," Lexy said in an interview with CBC's Weekend AM.
Watching these two in action, it is no trouble to tell that Lexy is learning from one of the best, and that she is catching onto everything quickly and easily. In addition to the photography skills she is learning, Lexy is also spending time navigating the world of Adobe Photoshop, the photo-editing software.
At 12, Lexy has no shortage of photography tips. "Say if you wanted to take a picture of a duck, it would be nice if it was calm water and nothing behind it. Sometimes, those red lawn chairs, they can take away the photo, so we kind of just Photoshop them out."
Alex added that one of their favourite things to take photos of are birds in flight. "Pretty well anybody can take a picture of a bird as they are there now, but if you get in flight [...] as soon as he starts taking off, you can get fantastic shots."
But what's most important in all of this, according to Alex, is the memories that the two of them are creating as Lexy grows up.
"I only had one grandfather — the other one passed away before I was even thought of. I had some really good memories with him, spent a lot of time with him, and I'm hoping that Lexy will have similar memories of me. I say this is more for me, in that I'm getting her to spend time with me versus me spending time with her."
In a few years, Alex hopes to pass his camera to his other grandchild, Lexy's younger sister.
LISTEN | Jill Power joins Alex McInnis and Lexy Richardson on an early-morning visit to Virginia Lake:
"Give it a few more years, and I'll pass the camera to her. Actually, I do it now. She takes my camera just around the house when her friends are over, taking pictures of them. I'm just hoping that will develop into something there."
Making memories, developing skills, and taking in nature at its finest — first thing in the morning. A great start to any day, and as Alex said while leaving the lake, "it doesn't get much better than this."