Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Thing About Children


For the Joy, 2013
(Click on image to see larger)

I was going to title this post, “They shoot children, don’t they?” But that seems like one of those things that would have been cute once upon a time, but isn’t now. So let’s be clear, I’m talking about photographing children.

Photographing children can be a tricky proposition. I know some photographers who when they’re photographing children on the street don’t think twice about shooting first and checking for parents’ permission later. I understand their strategy, but I’m reluctant to follow it in many cases.

It’s sort of like my comment above about the title I didn’t use for this post. Bad things happen to children, though I suspect the incidence of photographers doing it is extremely rare. In my day-to-day work as a researcher, though, I’ve come across enough parents who’d shoot first and ask questions later if they thought someone was acting fishy around their children. Some parents are just being careful. You can understand and respect that. Others are just nutcases looking for something to be hysterical about, and some of them tote guns. I don’t waste much respect on nutcases. But why risk being misunderstood by someone with a gun?

So there I was this past Saturday down at the oceanfront for the annual Steel Pier Classic surfing competition. I didn’t go there to photograph surfers. I enjoy watching surfing. There are all kinds of people with long lenses photographing all sorts of surfing maneuvers. I’m sure they do a nice job. As for me, the real appeal of such events is the opportunity to photograph the people who come to watch the surfing competitions. 

This is why I happened to be standing away from the surfing action and notice the children shown above playing at the water’s edge. (If it looks like there’s no one around, let me assure you that if I’d turned the camera around it would have revealed about 5,000 people watching me.) The kids would run up to approaching waves and laugh as the waves crashed and they retreated back across the sand to avoid getting caught in the cold water. Their joy was infectious. I had to shoot them.

1 comment:

  1. I like this picture very much. But I'm with you when it comes to shooting children. I do it only in crowds. There was one time, if I'd had my camera, I would have had the taxi I was in stop: A mother and five year old (ish) daughter were waiting for a bus. It was early spring and the bus stop was located next to a blossoming tree with pink and white blooms. (Not magnolia tree - such is the level of my horticultural knowledge that this is the best I can do: it was pink and white.) Anyway - the girl was wearing a raincoat that *exactly* matched the tree's blooms. I would have asked to take a picture of them standing there and if they missed their bus, I would have taken them where they were headed in my taxi. (Still beating myself up for not even having a little point-and-shoot with me that day.)