Portrait Photography In The Eyes Of 5 Years Olds

Kindergarten Photo Day (by udijw)I had the honor and the pleasure to give a talk at my daughter’s kindergarten on Friday. We recently moved to a new place and once the kindergarten teacher heard I was a photographer, she asked me to come down and talk a bit with the kids about what I do.

Of course I said yes. I also offered to take some portraits of the kids and stuff – just for funzees. I asked the teacher to tell the kids to bring a favorite toy or set of clothes. It was amazing to hear what 5 year-olds think about photography and I am going to share some of this discussion here.

When the teacher and I initially talked about me coming to talk, she said she is going to make a huge deal out of it. I said OK and pulled my shoulders. How big of a deal can it be?

BIG. It turned out. They had a photography week that week in which that did several very interesting things. First they spent quite a deal of time talking about photography. Why do we photograph? What are we doing with the pictures (I re-did some of this discussion and the answers were. how to put it…. kinda morbid….)

DIY Camera From Kindergarten Photo Day (by udijw)The next thing that happened is that every kid made a fake camera from corrugated paper and plastic cups. They decorate it very well, and during my whole stay I was repeatedly “shot” while shooting. (See picture on the left for a great Sunday morning project for the photo-loving kid).

Last thing is that indeed each adorable kid brought they favorite thing of set of clothes costume. I never said custom, but it turned out fun in that way.

I asked the teacher for a room to set up in, and after setting up (clamp/butterfly lighting style) she gathered and kids and we had a nice little chat.

We looked as several pictures from Annie Leibovitz book Women and in some pictures from her Olympic Portraits book.

Me: Why do people take pictures?

They: To fill our albums; So we will not miss our friends when they are not near us; So we will remember those who died.

Me: What can we tell about people in photographs?

They: what they wore; What they felt; If they are dead; If they are not here.

We looked at Annie’s Teacher portrait – It is a wonderful portrait of a young teacher.

Me: Who is that lady?

They: Is she dead now? (Me: no); She is a teacher; She is in school; She holds a chalk so she is the teacher; she is sad because all her students are gone.

We had a few more rounds with Annie’s portraits and in each the question of “Are They Alive” rose. I guess that once kids get stuck on a theme they GET STUCK on a theme.

Later we had a portrait session. The nice thing about kids is that they connect quite easily. It is enough that you both like the same fruit to have a friendly discussion. And if you like Bakogans (I did not know them before, I think they are the devil now, yet I love them), you are a best friend.

With some it was harder, and we had to chat for a while to get a smile / moment. I spent about 2-3 minutes with most kids, shooting only 15-20 seconds.

As I said, the children were instructed to bring a favorite set of clothes or a favorite toy/thing/object, many came in costumes. I always asked why. Some said “Cuz mummy told me”, some said “This is what I want to be” and some said “We share a certain quality”.

All and all it was a very fun day and me and the kids had a great time. Click the image on the top to see a sample portrait bigger.