Article in The Times #1

Great article in Friday’s Times by Joanna Pitman regarding the photography of children.  One of my most favourite  children’s photographers, Sally Mann, is shortly to have an exhibition at The Photographer’s Gallery in London and if you have the opportunity please go and have a look.  Her photography is simply wonderful – delicate and imbued with a profound love of children and their wonderful little bodies and faces. 

In these days of awareness of the dangers of paedophiles and internet grooming, it is a sad fact that we have become overly anxious about how our children are portrayed by photography.  At one time the thought of seeing a baby naked would have elicited no more than an indulgent chuckle – now parents are concerned that those images are going to be used for paedophile fodder.  How sad!  

I am just as anxious to keep those dangers away from my own children but I am darned if I am going to let that anxiety stop me from recording some of the most beautiful and poignant moments in their development.  For my own pleasure in years to come.  And for them to look back at and see family resemblances and remember special moments in their childhood.

And an unpleasant by-product of that anxiety is that some read meanings in the most exquisitely portrayed images of children where there is none.  It is a sad indictment of our society that a nasty sexual connotation can be seen in the most innocent of children’s portraiture.  Some excellent photographers have had to change the way that they work and, in extreme cases, have been chased out of the country.  Throughout history artists have portrayed the naked human form, children included, and through this have pushed the boundaries of art.  Is that wrong and did it lead to an increase in child abuse? I don’t know.  I’m pretty sure that Sally Mann’s photography is not the sort of imagery that would appeal to the more depraved in our society.  It is far too subtle.

At Bebefoto I am very conscious of the implications of photographing young children and their images being available for inappropriate use.  I love children.  I love their little chubby Bhudda bodies.  This is why I love to photograph their lashes, the curve of a cheek, a mop of unruly, tufty ‘first’ hair, a thumb being sucked or a lock of hair being chewed.  Its so easy to forget how your children were when they were so very young.  It doesn’t make me a pervert though.  And the whole sense of alarm about people photographing children, their own or anyone else’s, in an innocent setting makes me very sad.   In the pictures above these children were –  good grief – only dressed in nappies!  But the pictures are more beautiful because of it  – babyskin is a wonderful thing.

One of my sets of pictures above, which I did ages ago, but which remains one of my favourites – and guess what?  They’re not wearing tops!

So read the article from Friday’s Times and, either, get out there and photograph the special intimate things about your child that makes him/her the person they are going to be – or get someone to do it for you.  And if you have a chance go and see the Sally Mann exhibition – you’ll love it.




If you had a daughter, wouldn’t you want them to have eyelashes like these?

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