The majority of famous children photographers started snapping shots at a young age. Some were introduced to the camera by chance, while others developed a passion for photography by watching family members take pictures.
The Most Famous Children Photographers
While they may have traveled different paths on the road to celebrity, the following professional shutterbugs have one thing in common-a unique ability to capture stunning photos of children.
Australian-born photographer Anne Geddes is regarded as one of the most famous children photographers in the world. She is best known for her stylized depictions of babies. Most of her work features infants dressed as plants, flowers, animals and butterflies. Her most recent photos include children dressed as fairies and other mystical creatures.
Geddes' iconic images have graced everything from award-winning books and calendars to postage stamps and album covers. The soft-spoken, self-taught photographer once revealed that her images aim to capture the purity, vulnerability, and preciousness of children. Geddes added that her life's goal is to illustrate to the world that each and every child must be protected, nurtured, and loved.
English photographer Roger Mayne is known the world over for his famous documentation of children in Southam Street, London. For more than five years, Mayne devoted his life to capturing kids as they played on Southam Street, one of London's most infamous areas. The series of photos taken from 1956-1961 documents the urban life of one of the city's poorest spots as seen through the eyes of its youngest residents. Following the publication of his Southam Street photos, Mayne continued to use children as the main focus of his images.
Sally Mann's work photographing children is both well regarded and highly controversial. Immediate Family, shot in 1992, caused an uproar in the photo community when it was revealed that the nude images featured in the series were of her own children. Some critics considered her work child pornography, while others dubbed it "exceptional works of art." The latter group included curators at The Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. All three of these institutes feature permanent collections of Mann's work, including her award-winning series titled At Twelve: Portraits of Young Women. The collection portrays a girl's innocence during the difficult and often confusing transitional period between childhood and adolescence.
Encouraging Your Little Shutterbug
If you have a budding shutterbug at home, who prefers to be behind the camera rather than in front of the lens, he or she could be the next Geddes, Mayne or Mann. To foster a love of photography in children, consider the following tips:
Cover the Basics
You don't have to be a professional photographer to teach your children the basics of camera work. Simply run through some fundamental rules, including:
- Parts of the camera
- How to hold the camera properly
- Picture composition
It doesn't pay to overwhelm young children with technical jargon. Instead, teach them the basics and let them experiment on their own with a kid-friendly camera or a disposable one. Once they show a true desire to cultivate their photography skills, you can look into purchasing them a more sophisticated digital camera.
You can inspire children to take more pictures by giving them fun and easy photo "assignments." For example, you could put together a scavenger hunt-type list, which features specific items to find and photograph, such as a dog, a truck, a fire hydrant, a rose, etc.
Another easy project includes identifying your child's favorite photo subject and challenging him to take as many pictures of it as possible. For instance, if your son loves bugs, take a nature hike and let him shoot all the insects he encounters along the way.
Take it Slow
Children learn at different rates, so don't get frustrated if your little one is having a hard time absorbing all the information at once. When you are teaching a child a new skill, remember to take it slow. Try to concentrate on teaching one lesson at a time and praise your child's efforts along the way.
The Big Picture
Not every child will develop into a Geddes or Mayne, but that shouldn't stop you from encouraging your offspring to experiment with a camera. As long as your child gains happiness from taking pictures, that's all that should matter.