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Volume 26, Number 7 — July 2019

Max Hale Has An 'Eye' for Photography

By Dottie Havlik | November 25, 2008

Max Hale, 10, is in the fifth grade at Stonewall Jackson Elementary School in Bristol, Va. The son of Diane Hale, Max is the youngest member of the Twin City Photo Club and an avid shutterbug. His photo of his five-year-old sister, Tori, won first place in the youth category in the recent Rhythm and Roots Reunion photography contest. Taken inside an Art in Public Places sculpture of a spider, the photo was titled "The Creepy Crawly Ate My Sister."

Max recently sat down for a chat with A! Magazine for the Arts.

So you are a photographer?
Yes. I actually got into the hobby because my Nana (Linda Stewart) did a little photography and I edited her pictures and I did pretty well. It was one of the most complicated programs, and I got it in about two seconds.

What made you interested in pictures?

Technology. Before I got into photography, I was sitting like a lump. Now I get out more. I look at things like they're pictures. Like, right now, I can see a tree that looks like a pumpkin. My Nana tells me to look at something as not what it is. Like a log. Don't think of it as a log. There are little branches sticking out of it like a bug. So I see a bug.

Which came first, editing or taking pictures?
A little bit of both, because actually before I edited ? I didn't think of it a lot ? I did a really good picture with a development camera by Kodak.

What's a development camera?
You have to develop [the film]. It's not digital. When I started taking pictures a lot, I was done with the development cameras. Done. My Nana broke a camera and didn't think it could be repaired, so she got another one. But she did repair it, and she gave it to me.

Does your photography have a definite style?
As I said, I like to look at things as they aren't. Like the log, the branches: a bug. That's my style. One time, though, I saw a really pretty scene from way up a mountain, and I shot that.

How long have you been a member of the Twin City Photo Club?
About half a year. I started when I was nine-and-a-half. At the club, we have little meetings, and we talk about how a camera works. To tell you the truth, I'm the only kid ever in those meetings.

What do they think about that?

They respect me.

And what do you think about that?

Well, my Nana has to explain to me what things are sometimes, because they're saying stuff that I don't really know what they mean. But I learn a lot. It's like a class. We work on a lot of things.

You won the Rhythm and Roots photography contest?

The youth category. I actually entered a picture in another category. I was at my soccer game and I was just looking at the sky. I took a picture. I don't know why that didn't win anything, because it was pretty, the way the clouds looked. That's the hard part about photography ? learning what looks good.

What about the photo that won?

It's called "The Creepy Crawly Ate My Sister." It looks like the crawler is eating Tori, and she's inside ripping it out, trying to kill it. It's actually pretty cool.

Do you have a goal in mind for your photography?

I'm going to try to win a contest. Because if I win, there could be some ching-ching. A cash prize.

Would you like a career in photography?
Yeah, I probably would. In fact, I'm probably going to stop using my camera and start using my Aunt Cathy's camera. She said if I got all As and Bs, I could have it, and I made the A and B Honor Roll. I'm going to learn to do video ? fiddle around with it and learn.

I'm looking at another photo of rows of trees. Tell me about it.
It's at Sugar Hollow. Did you ever see [the film "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe"]? It's like you don't know what's behind that dark place [in the middle] ? it's like a door. And these look like talking trees. It's just cool. I love it!

Anything else?
Readers, you might want to get out and do some photography, because you never know who'll get inspired by it. To you, it might be some old boring snapshot. But to some people, it's like a work of art.

Do you have other interests?
I play soccer. I also play basketball ? I go for try-outs tomorrow night.

So you're athletic as well as artistic?

Yes. And I'm bike-listic.

If I hadn't been waiting for this interview, I'd be out in the neighborhood riding my bike. I also like to sing country-western. And I'm in a musical at school: I Need a Christmas Vacation. I have the lead solo, plus a part. I'm busy!

Max Hale's award-winning photograph, "The Creepy Crawly Ate My Sister," shows his sister Tori inside an Art in Public Places sculpture outside the Bristol Public Library. Tori is a kindergartener at Stonewall Jackson Elementary in Bristol, Va.