So you’re presently standing with a partner. This is a passive activity that has extraordinary dynamic value that it will depend on what you actually bring to it.
Here’s what’s about to happen. For example if Con and I were partners, using this space around here one of us will elect to choose, to volunteer to be blindfolded. I don’t have blindfolds to give you so just closing your eyes works pretty well.
And with your eyes closed, let’s say it was Con who has his eyes closed first, I’m going to physically lead him. I’m going to hold him, guide him, I can talk to him, he can talk to me, but I’m going to take him to three unique locations in this area, don’t go too far away but within this area, and I’m going to imagine that Con is my camera and I am the photographer.
So what I’m going to do imagine that Con is… if you’ve got your eyes closed I’m just going to open this up just for a second. There we go. So if Con is my camera, his eyes are the aperture. It’s the thing that actually opens up for a split second to grab an image.
You could add a whole lot more to your metaphor here. You could suggest that his ear is the button that you press to actually make the shot and you could change all sorts of other things.
But for example let’s go over here. We’re going to make this up, but Con I’m just going to lead you here with your eyes closed and… actually come this way. So he’s got his eyes closed the whole time. That’s right. There’s nothing in your way, but you’re doing well, you’re doing well.
Okay so standing there, still with your eyes closed… Now, I now need to prep him. If you are actually using a camera you need focus and you also need to tell your camera how long the exposure of the image is going to be. So in this case it is… it’s going to be one quarter of a second, really really quick. Your focus is about a metre directly in front of your eyes, okay? Yes. And as soon as I tweak your ear you’re going to take that image, okay?
Here is the key though Con, you need to remember it. Are you ready?
Okay, so one metre focus, quarter of a second, and… Nice. Okay, that’s one image. I now take Con, I’ll just grab your hand, and I go find two other unique images.
Okay you may now open your eyes. You can keep holding my hand if you want to though.
So he’s got one image. I then take him to two more images. Take your time, over the course of a minute or two. As I say don’t go too far away. Notice that I ask Con to remember. So at this point let’s… I’m going to actually do this with you later on, but Con, what do you remember of just that one image?
(That split second, Mark, crew, I saw a Eucalypt trunk. I also saw a bench right next to it. So I actually saw two things. I could say a third thing. I did see Thomas blurred in the background, but I saw the tree trunk, the bench, and a blurred out person behind that.)
All that in a fraction of a second. It becomes more difficult though because there are two other images you need to hold on to. Once you’ve got your three, come back to a neutral spot and then have a little chitchat. Okay, what was the first image, what do you remember of it, what are the details you picked up on. Second image, third image, and then swap over. Now it’s Con’s turn to take me on a bit of a wander.
The whole exercise should take you no longer than five to six minutes. So a couple of minutes for your partner, chitty-chat, a couple minutes for you, chitty-chat, come on back. Got the basic idea?
(people playing Human Camera)
So just a real quick reflection. You’ve had an opportunity with your own partner to review what you could recall. There’s a good reason for doing it soon after because unlike film, you’re not going to last forever. You may quickly forget. But what did you notice? What did you observe during the course of the exercise? Yes.
(I observed myself making elongated stepping or like exaggerated movements when I was blindfolded.)
Dependence. In what way?
(So you’ve kind of fully… you’ve got to trust the other person who’s leading you.)
(And I guess it’s about communication as well because I felt like I wasn’t very descriptive with him. I was like yes keep walking, yes, you’ll be sweet, whereas he was like walk about twelve paces forward which is way nicer. He like he was like doing massive steps and I was like pretty well-guided.)
So communication was key to help you be clear. Okay, got it.
(We noticed different things, so when I was showing Lynn one of the scenes, what I was expecting that she would capture with her eyes was really different to the detail that she captured.)
Interesting. Hang on to that. We’re going to come back to that thought. Great.
(And I think to steady the person I used both hands. I took both his hands especially going down the steps to make sure that he didn’t feel… you know…)
Terrific Rosa. Good.
It’s a great passive activity. Particularly in adventure programs we tend to get really caught up in always having to be active, climbing this, paddling that, blah blah blah. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but from a learning style point of view you’re going to capture on average about a quarter of your group in terms of that being their dominant style.
And doing something that is passive and creative as this can pick up interest and engagement with other parts of your group, which of course then become more challenging for those groups that say I just want to move my body, I want to climb, I want to paddle. Great, you’ll get your turn, but now your challenge is to actually support somebody else in their exercise. Does that make sense?
How To Play Narrative
Have you run out of methods to divide your group into pairs yet? Try this – ask each person in your group to find a partner who puts their shoes on in the same sequence, ie left on first, right on first.
Now that you’ve got partners, explain that one person will begin with their eyes closed, and their sighted partner will guide them physically around a defined area to focus their ‘camera’ on three random, yet distinct objects.
At each object, the sighted person will physically guide their ‘camera’ to look in the desired direction and verbally direct all of the other settings such as focus, distance and exposure.
For example, describe the ‘exposure’ as the desired length of time (in split seconds) you want the blind partner to open their eyes. The ‘focus’ will be signalling how close or far away the human lens should expect to extend their gaze as soon as their eyes open, and so on. Have some fun with it.
The blindfolded person keeps their eyes closed at all times, except for when they are taking the three snapshots. Their object is to retain a vivid image of each Kodak moment.
In an ideal world, the ‘human camera’ will capture the exact image targeted by the sighted person. However, the value of this exercise is underpinned by the relationship formed between the partners, more than the visual acuity of the captured images.
Provide an opportunity for each person to share what they saw in their ‘photographs,’ discussed later with their partner and/or with the larger group.
When ready, switch roles and repeat.
Practical Leadership Tips
It’s astonishing the level of detail a person can pick up in just a split second. Be prepared for some wonderful sharing, and possible links to effective communication and relationships.
Once again, carefully consider your sequence of activities leading up this exercise to adequately prepare your group for this mental and emotional challenge. It will take patience and focus on behalf of both partners to obtain the most from this activity. Coming straight out of a full-on tag game may not be the best idea.
Similar to Hug A Tree, it is often fun for the blindfolded person to retrace their steps to identify the three locations where they recorded their images. However, ask the blindfolded folks to describe their images first, lest they are influenced by viewing the actual object.
If there is time, encourage your pairs to learn from their first round of exposures to take more accurate photographs (in terms of what the sighted person had intended) during a second round of shots.
Multiple Images: Invite teams of pairs to view exactly the same objects with similar apertures, exposures and foci. Before switching roles, discuss what images each of the blindfolded people captured and compare.
Vary The Focus: Train the lens of the blindfolded person to capture three images all taken in the same direction but focused on three different distances, eg 1, 10 and 50 metres away.
Specific Focus: Invite the sighted-people to lead their blindfolded partners to focus on three specific images, reflecting a particular theme, eg leadership, compassion, trust, etc. In this way, you are narrowing the types of images you want to be captured by the ‘cameras’ and therefore, can design your debrief accordingly. Works best if you tape the images on the wall, or draw them if you are that way inclined. For large groups, create multiple of the same images.
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Useful Framing Ideas
Photography is one of the world’s most favourite past-times, because it helps to re-kindle memories of special and happy events, places and people. There’s both an art and science to taking great photographs, images that will be remembered for a long time. While there is a lot of great technology out there today which makes taking great shots a lot easier, it is still true that it takes a lot of skill, patience and experience to record truly exceptional images. Today, you get to try your hand at being a human camera…
Reflection Tips & Strategies
Coupled with one or more reflection strategies, here are some sample questions you could use to process your group’s experience after playing this dynamic, trust-building exercise:
What surprised you about being a human camera?
With practice, did you observation skills improve? Why?
What feelings came up for you? Why?
What might this exercise teach us about our observation skills?
What might this exercise teach us about developing trust in a group?
The inspiration for Human Camera, and many more passive trust-building exercises, was sourced from the following publications: