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Unique perspective sets 6-year-old’s photos apart

Olivia Peterson of Morris recently had her first gallery show at Lonnie's Arts Gallery, filled with photographs she's taken.
Olivia Peterson of Morris recently had her first gallery show at Lonnie's Arts Gallery, filled with photographs she's taken.

MORRIS – What started with Olivia Peterson toying around with her parents’ cellphone cameras led to a local art gallery showing for the 6-year-old.

Peterson’s interest in photography was piqued while using her parents’ phones to take pictures of things that interested her.

That love led to her first camera, which she got for her sixth birthday in June.

“It’s fun because you can take any picture you want,” she said.

After she started taking photos with her Canon Powershot, she decided she needed to do something with them, so like any digital photographer, she loaded them onto her home computer.

Since her father is a photographer, she had access to photo editing software, and she wanted to learn how to make her photographs even better.

“I showed her how to edit her first photograph and then she took over and did it on her own,” her dad, Adam Peterson, said.

The longer she took photos, the more she slowed down as the family went places.

“I thought she was just doing it for fun,” her mother, Trisha Peterson, said. “When we went to the zoo, she’d just take pictures.”

When she’d stop to take photos in a parking lot, her father would think, “Why are you taking that?”

“When I saw them on the computer, I realized she had such a cool perspective of the world around her,” he said.

One set of images from the parking lot at Disney World’s Epcot in Florida showed everything from tires to the word “Stop” written on the pavement.

“When I looked at them, they were amazing,” Adam Peterson said. “I said, ‘I’m never rushing this child again.’”

Her father isn’t the only one who thinks her photographs are amazing. Local art gallery owner Lonnie Mathison, who owns Lonnie’s Arts Gallery, heard about them from her dad and decided to have a look.

“I hear quite often from people, ‘My son or my daughter is good,’” Mathison said. “But when Adam said the photos shocked him, I thought, I want to see them.”

Mathison purchased one of Olivia Peterson’s original prints for his own collection. It’s just one of five photographs he has purchased from artists.

“When you purchase a photograph, you are buying their eye and the way they see the world,” Mathison said. “Olivia chooses great subject matter.”

Mathison then offered Peterson a chance to show and sell her work at her own gallery show, complete with a “Meet the Artist” reception.

“A lot of people came, more than I thought,” Peterson said. “They asked me a lot of questions.”

Many bought her photos and that surprised Peterson.

“One boy even bought one before the show started,” she said.

More than 30 of her photographs sold, more than half the images she took for display.

“It feels good to know people are buying my pictures,” she said.

Olivia Peterson said she likes post-production work almost as much as taking photos. She lightens them, makes the shadows lighter or darker depending on what she likes. She also makes them different colors.

“I make the whites brighter and I put either a black or a white edge on the pictures,” she said. “It’s fun because you can make it look how you want.”

Her favorite photo is one she took of her own shadow falling against lush green grass.

Her advice to other young people who want to take photos is to start with their mom’s and dad’s phones.

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