I was commissioned to write this a few years ago for the Central European House of Photography in Bratislava (and thank you to all the photo...
Wednesday, 22 April 2009
How not to Photograph: Hasn't She Grown Part 2
pictures: Colin Pantall (from Seven Stages of an Idealized Childhood)
Forget that last post. What a load of twaddle!
Photographing children, especially if they are your own children, is great. It cannot be recommended enough. Instead of gallivanting all over the place photographing bridges, tribesmen and dead pigeons at great personal and financial expense, you get to spend time with your family and kids.
You can see how they grow up, how they change. You can photograph the tears, the fears, the trauma and the joy. You can make series of them doing different things and relate this to different theories of child care and development, capturing them as they climb up from squawling newborn to egocentric toddler and burgeoning self-awareness. While you do this you get closer to your child and learn something about yourself and the footsteps of your life.
You can give your series a title - "The Seven Stages of an Idealized Childhood" is the one for me - and then you can edit your work right down to the 40 images that will be the perfect portrayal of what it is to be a child - because that's the thing we are all trying to capture.
Childhood is tender, beautiful, brutal and traumatic - so there is an emotional gamut you can capture. The environment you photograph in may be domestic, but what you photograph can be extraordinary, the glances, postures and poses that show the physical and emotional side of becoming a child, an adult, a human. At it's best, photographing children is honest, raw, physical, emotional, psychological, cultural and incredibly political.
What could be better, more worthwhile or more valuable than that?