Accidental play with photos at Christmas

accidental play at Crown

Accidental play – unplanned, spontaneous, adults-having-fun – must surely be the best kind of play. Such an opportunity came my way last week. My friend, Susan Dunn, and I went to the Crown at Burswood, hoping to see the high-tech Monet Exhibition in the specially constructed pavillion.

Monet pavillion

We’d checked the times, and both thought it was open every day. But when we arrived workers told us that the site had closed for maintenance and would be open as advertised the next day. Later I rechecked, and discovered I’d missed the fine print that said closed on a few Mondays.

Disappointed, we agreed that coffee and perhaps cake in the nearby Crown would be a good idea. We’d come back to Monet another time.

Accidental play date

The rest of the morning played out with surprising energy. Instead of coffee and cake, we shared an amazing cheese platter in opulent surroundings.

Rather than a morning being serious and observing a high-tech display of French Impressionist paintings, I found myself on an accidental play date when Susan suggested we might photograph the sights at the Crown and see what would happen.

Although a little intimidated, I liked the idea. Susan is a skilled and artful photographer whom I’ve followed on Instagram for years. Her reels are both artistic and beautiful. You can check her photography here. And she blogs here.

‘I’ll trail around after her,’ I thought. ‘I might get some tips from watching what she does.’

I didn’t expect to have such fun!

Crown resort/casino alive

A couple of weeks before Christmas created the perfect setting for an amateur (and sometimes reluctant) photographer. Lavish decorations enhanced the already impressive buildings.

soaring spaces on accidental play date

Tourists and holidaymakers filled the spaces on the ground. What seemed to be a group of thirty or more new employees trailed around after efficient leaders. They looked embarrassed. Some were in uniform, others wore ‘smart casual’ work clothes. All appeared out of place. Children ran around.

My accidental play mate

Susan encouraged me me follow and copy her. Angles I would never have seen seemed obvious. She pointed me towards better shots, different lighting opportunities, altered vision. She played, and encouraged me also to play. I’ve written about play and creativity here.

By myself, I would have felt reserved and shy with my phone in hand. With my fun companion, though, I had a wonderful time. We laughed, played and photographed. I felt snap-happy and joyful. I remembered that Einstein once said that creativity is intelligence having fun.

toy soldiers

Having fun heals

Margaret Hiatt recently posted on Instagram words of wisdom. (Sorry, I can’t find the link.) She said that we heal every time we have fun, or a good conversation. We heal when we laugh or make something – anything. Everytime we get so absorbed in something that we forget our struggles for a while, we get better.

Thank you, Susan Dunn. I will never excel as a photographer. But I will remember having fun as I learned from you that day.

Acknowlegement of country
signature, maureen helen
Writer Maureen Helen


  1. Wish I could have been with you – though probably would have slowed you down – perhaps another signal for laughter.
    But you and I have had many laughs.
    look forward to seeing your photos.

    1. You would not have slowed us at all, Elizabeth. It was a slow, gentle experience, and such fun. We doubled back a few times, planned and unplanned. The best of my photos are in the blog.

  2. This is fabulous, the photos are images that I’ve never see & the telling of your unexpected day, so joyful. These interactions with a lovely friend are healing. Wonderful.🤗

  3. It was a wonderful outing, Maureen, albeit not the one we’d planned! Spontaneity is the key! You are a delightful companion, always, and I love your insatiable, keen appetite for learning. Your photos are fabulous! Thank you for a wonderful fun-filled day!

    1. Pleased you agree it was a fun day, Susan, and it was not just me who had all the fun! I love your teaching style, and can’t wait to keep practising my newly discovered excitement with my phone camera. Happy to have more tuition any time we’re together.

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