Americana

UPDATED 12/22/1986 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 12/22/1986 at 01:00 AM EST

Some things just come naturally, at least for a time. Free-lance photographer Zane Williams, 37, rediscovered that when he tried an experiment with 23 city and farm kids in Wisconsin. Williams gave the children automatic 35-mm cameras, a short lesson and about 150 rolls of film, then told them to go shoot anything they liked. The results are surprising. "These children have given us a glimpse of the human face of family life in the '80s," Williams says. "If I could learn to be less calculating from these kids, I'd come away with fresher images. Opening your eyes is still what counts." Intuitively, the children used their own angles, lopped off heads—and caught fleeting reality with rare fidelity. Here is an eye-opening sample:

'This is Maya Toral on a late summer day just having fun outside my house. Maya is my best friend. She lives right down the block. I've known her about three years since she moved here from Mexico. We share things a lot—even clothes. I like the way Maya is laughing in the picture. But she thought she looked kind of weird.'
Beth Grimm, 10

'My dog Trixie is like a hired hand when it comes to chasing the cows out of the barn. I had a feeling she was going to do something funny. She does that with all the new animals. She doesn't like them.'
Hans Gausman, 14

'I was walking into the house after picking up more film. My brother Chad was just playing around like he always does. Later on he got real excited when he saw the picture.'
Billy Mickelson, 13

'We just got that rake and I think it's really neat how it runs and how it looked on the hill. My grandpa is driving it in the picture. I had the camera with me when I went to call him to come in for lunch.'
Hayley Jelle, 16

'I tried to get different angles in my pictures. It gave me a nice feeling when I saw my uncle lying there on the floor. It was a peaceful moment, the way I like to remember my grandparents' living room.'
Adam Niesen, 9

'The cats on our farm are very curious. We have about 20 of them. The cow hangs over our 4-H entries at the county fair to tell people who we are. We had just washed it and set it up to dry.'
David Schmid, 15

'The dog's name is Freckles—his owner is a friend of my mother's. I wanted to make him look like he was in motion, running through the tall grass. I didn't want my sister in the picture. But I pressed the button without thinking.'
Eddye Toral, 12

'My mom had fallen asleep with her cigarette burning in the ashtray. I woke her and told her about it. And then I took the photograph.'
Kenny Scott, 14

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