BLOG: My Flickr Moment – Why I Photograph Children – filmed by Flickr / Yahoo.com
It would be fair to say I feel very uncomfortable on the other side of the camera!
Going to London to be filmed by Yahoo for ‘The Weekly Flickr’ moment would go down as possibly the hardest thing I’ve had to do!
I have always felt quite uncomfortable photographing a person sitting before me in front of a static background, not only in my children’s creative portraits but in my Avant Garde Adult Portraiture too. I know how excruciating I myself find this, so why would I expect anyone else to feel comfortable with it?
So in my work I have always sought out the personality behind the pretty face and tried to inject that back into the image taken with a very alternative style of editing during post production.
The very essence of a child is to inquire, play, learn, ooze energy and to take in the world around them and all that it has to offer them – they are just small human beings after all, with a sponge like quality to soak up everything that is presented to them, which will form the adult they will become.
As someone who is going to produce an image for this child, an image that they are going to see themselves in; I feel some responsibility.
I want to produce an image for that child which is like a magic mirror. An image which instead of reflecting a person grinning back because the photographer told them to, or a picture of a child wearing the clothes that mum picked for them; I want them to see staring back an image which reflects all the magic and dreams which goes on in their creative little mind, the fantasies which they act out in play every day. I want to capture the absolute brilliance of childhood; the dreams, the hope, the ambitions and the love of all things magical… those days when you believed anything was possible in your life… the days before society kicked in and smashed the hell out of the things we thought were achievable once upon a time as a child.
In my studio children can be ANYTHING. Telling a child to sit down, look pretty and be quiet can have a detrimental effect, there is none of that when you come to me for a picture!
Hopefully when the children I have worked with look at their images in 20 years time, my greatest wish is that they are going to see the awesome kid they were, and be reminded of the magic of their childhood and not just see that dress that mum loved. (But you didn’t – not really!)
Here is the serious bit, the boring bit about why I do this….
Someone once said to me: ‘Big changes in society will only ever come from each of us individually making some small change in our own small way’….
We live in a society filled with people struggling with their personal appearance and body dysmorphia (myself included). When we log in to social media we are faced daily with a whole generation of teenagers worldwide obsessed with selfies, worried about how they look and worrying whether society will accept them because they are too fat, too thin, too ugly, and that they do not look how others would like them to.
Surely it is time to point out to these young impressionable people that yes it feels nice to look good and it is important to stay healthy, but really your appearance is just a superficial shell protecting the very essence of YOU the person, and not as important as the concoction of things which come together inside you which forms the person you have become.
Should a teen girl worry that she might not get a boyfriend because she doesn’t look like a porn star or her boobs aren’t big enough? Isn’t it time we started trying to teach our children from a very young age that how they look is not the most important thing in life, but actually confidence, self fulfillment, having ambition, being content and just being happy with the person you have become when you grow up is worth so much more?
We as parents, photographers, people who work with children, adults in general…. can make a change in how a small child sees themselves from a very young age.
Children can be ANYTHING with a little bit of confidence, a lot of hard work and the support, love and encouragement from the people around them. Left to explore their imagination and creativity, given the confidence to believe in themselves – armed with these tools, just maybe we would see a future generation of children that don’t battle with anorexia and bulimia, children who are not frightened to stand up for themselves, people who are not prepared to sit down, look pretty, and be quiet…. a future generation of people who are content and happy, now wouldn’t that be something?
For years I have struggled with both my own personal and professional identity… It has taken a lot of soul-searching to come to terms with the person I am.
I worry about my weight and health on a daily basis, and so I understand all the problems and anxieties which come with not looking the way society expects you to.
On a professional level too…. Am I a photographer or a digital artist?
Purist artists argue that having shot 300 weddings prior to starting my creative journey, and the fact that I started out learning the processes and filters I now use in Photoshop – in a dark room, and that the main image I work on is a photograph taken in a photographic studio….that I am a photographer. Purist photographers argue that my use of digital art and mixed media processes to achieve my final piece, makes me not a photographer but a digital artist or a retoucher. One thing is for certain, it has been a lonely place at times trying to stay true to the images that I believe I was meant to create, but it’s been worth hanging on in there because I am finally starting to see people looking at the images I create, and understanding the passion and ideas behind them.
There comes a time when you have to stop worrying about how you look to the outside world and be happy with the person that you are within!
I AM A PHOTOGRAPHIC ARTIST AND PROUD OF IT!
Filming this for Flickr has really made me take a good look at both myself and my work, and really made me analyze why I do what I do, and it’s simple;
I use the skills I have picked up over the years – since I myself was one of those children with loads of magical dreams, ideas and creativity, to now recognize those qualities in others.
Armed with the encouragement my mum gave me growing up and the support I now receive from a loving husband, family and friends; I make images of people that reflect the super kick ass person they really are!
I would like to think that if just one person looks at an image that I have created for them; and sees looking back at them a creation that reminds them of the person they REALLY are and a person they feel proud to be… then my job is done.
Thank you Yahoo and The Weekly Flickr for giving me the opportunity to get my message across in my own small way!