There are a few things I have found to be important for making my pictures with children. First of all there is an age range that really is ideal. This seems to be a little before 2 till just beyond 3. I think it’s at the point where the child really starts to move around and interact independently with their surroundings that things start to happen for me visually.
Another important factor is that the child at some point doesn’t pay attention to what I’m doing while taking pictures. We are hanging out together and interacting but the presence of my camera doesn’t interfere. She continues to play and be engaged or she is doing her own thing and me taking pictures goes completely unnoticed … while another child may just stop, get quiet and watch me.
I have also found I am most interested when kids are in a space that isn’t visually defined as a child’s space but there is still a clear sense that it is in fact their space. So like, not too many bright colorful plastic toys, or not a playground, but a regular space at home or outside that has been created and defined by the child’s presence there or their interaction there. It is interesting too because I think there is a space created and defined by the child being there in that place, and experiencing there in that place, but there is also this larger container space that is created by parents/caregivers that allows the child’s defined space to exist in this way that interests me…
This kid space seems to be created by them exploring or following their curiosity with focus, not concerned with the “bigger picture” of life that an adult would be… a sort of exploring without constraints or worries or a to do list… I think they can do this because the adult world of their parents/caretakers has created this “safe” space/place for them to be in. And, it is interesting because it’s seemingly invisible to them, but if it were gone they would be immediately aware of it. This space is created by their adult people’s attention on them and awareness of them and care for them and it allows the child to focus on the unknown, explore and expand into the world around them knowing they will be contained… it’s boundaries for them basically, invisible limits that are set for them.