Aren’t kids AWESOME? I’ve been a big fan for a while now and I absolutely LOVE hanging out with them. I’ve even been an Au Pair, a nanny and a babysitter AND I get the honour of taking their portraits every so often at my day job.
I’ve been challenged and inspired recently by Lulastic and the Hippyshake‘s post on asking people not to greet her daughter with comments regarding her appearance HERE and I’ve also just read Role Reboot‘s post about her visit to Santa with her daughter resulting in the same issues/struggles HERE.
I love that Mum’s are flagging this and are feeling confident enough to challenge it publicly – it’s not easy, but I really feel that it is now OUR turn to respond to this outcry. It’s our job as family, friends, teachers and total strangers to help put this right.
I often get the privilege of chatting to children through my work and I admit I become a very visual person and am struck so often by certain physical features that people have – whether it’s a dusting of the finest freckles, eyes that hold impossible combinations of colour, a smile that somehow makes the entire world glow or hair so full of volume I want to get out a spoon and eat it!
My job is centered around capturing an image. It’s about what I can see, and showing other people that image. It’s about colour, composition, light, positioning and physical appearance. But I can’t enjoy or even like my job when it has to stop there. I struggle with it and question it, my feet feel heavy and I can’t give it my all. Why? Because we are so much more than our skin and bones. We’re more than that. So much more that it even intrudes on our appearance, it interferes and meddles with our physical being. That’s when I love my job. When, by some kind of magic, I can capture cheekiness, curiosity, love, trust, commitment, fun, journey, history, truth, character, pain, excitement and so much more. That’s all down to you and your beautiful soul bursting out and making its mark on your face and body. It’s the wonder of being human that makes me love and really appreciate photography.
So, it’s a challenge to be a photographer. It’s kind of strange doing this job whilst struggling so much with my own appearance and at the same time feeling so strongly that we should live our lives away from the mirror and media. I’m still working it out – big time! – and that’s why I found these articles so inspiring and important for my own journey.
Here’s some helpful and practical conversation starter ideas from Lucy Aitken-Read and Kasey Edwards (thanks ladies!) that should also get you thinking:
How was your journey here? I got the bus and there was loads of traffic!
How has your day been today?
What animals do you like? I love elephants the most.
Are you reading many books these days?
Who’s this dude? (Referring to the teddy/ action figure they may be holding.)
Mostly though, a simple Hello will do and more natural interactions can come a bit later, as you and this child get more comfortable with each other.
– Where have you been today? or Where are you going today?
– How old are you?
– What’s your favorite book/toy/sport/animal/food/song?
– Check out your surroundings and remark on something such as a flowering plant, a truck, a picture on the wall, even the weather.
And some from me:
– How are you feeling today?
– How do you feel about being here today?
– Talk about their family and your own family – siblings, holidays, jobs, ages, names etc
– Explore your surroundings
– Sing songs or tell stories, poems or interesting facts
– Play games or offer to teach or be taught a new skill
Let’s give our boys and girls the best opportunities to express and explore themselves – starting with a gender neutral, non-appearance based greeting!