Photography Inside the Lines

As a doodler, I doodle everywhere I’m not supposed to. As a child, I had doodled on every single page of my science book. Needless to say, I spent that whole evening with my parents erasing each page not sure why I had to go through all that effort.

As a doodler, I stay outside the lines. I doodle sideways, diagonally, and outside the margins. I rarely stay inside the margins. Notes I take are often a mess.

My mother, when wanting to help pick up groceries for me, often frowns at my shopping lists and complains she can’t read my writing. My husband is used to my shopping lists and knows that for bananas and apples, I often doodle a banana and apple, rather than writing out the whole word. It’s quicker that way.

Doodling helps me focus. In my first months of Teacher Staff meetings, I was always a little nervous doodling worrying that it would be perceived that I wasn’t paying attention. But I was paying attention, and after others perceived that, I only doodled more. Many of my 2nd graders when doodling would often get a hazy look in their eyes and be off in Doodle Land. Upon asking them questions about what we had just covered to which they would flounder to muster an answer, I would tell them to Stop Doodling and Pay Attention Now. I did have a select few who were able to doodle and pay attention. One of my students was an intelligent, highly energetic 2nd grader. He could doodle and spit out the right answers simultaneously. The doodling would help calm his nerves, refocus his energy. He had doodling privileges.

My sister-in-law came over to my house the other day and upon looking at my calendar started to smile. I hastily started to explain it when she said, “Hey, it works for you!” She was right. I can tell you exactly what’s going on in my doodly calendar. It makes sense to me.

Doodlings aren’t supposed to be neat. They aren’t supposed to tucked into expected blank spaces. They’re supposed to be squeezed into unexpected angular areas.They’re supposed to be outside the lines. Hence, I doodle.

However, with photography, I am limited to being inside the lines of a photo. That rule is somewhat calming. Every photo has a certain rectangle. A box. I choose what goes inside the box. It may be a complete image….

or a broken incomplete image (makes you think)…

… or nothing really at all. It is my box, my photo …

It is fun. It is photography inside the lines. Hence, I take photos.


  1. The wonderful thing about being older and successful is that one can finally justify his or her own learning and organizational style– doodling, organizing through digital documents rather than paper (that’s mine! boy do i love being able to search through my email and not worry about where I put it, whereas i would have lost that hard copy on my desk long ago), learning a language orally rather than through writing (also mine, when possible, despite our written word-centric culture.)

    But as you pointed out, now we unconventional learners can encourage younger unconventional learners to keep those unique skills and succeed with them, rather than fight against them. To think that elementary schools once forbid students from writing with their left hands!

    1. Thanks for sharing your Interesting learning styles Laura! It amazing to see how different ppl learn! That’s so cool you can learn a language orally. I wish I could too, but I’m visual so need to see it on paper! I agree with allowing students to keep their unique skills :)!

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