Friday, April 4, 2014

photographing babes

photograph of newborn taken by my very talented cousin-in-law Camilla
Digital photography has opened up endless possibilities for capturing moments in a child's life. The medium means that no flash is needed, there are multiple chances at getting the 'right' shot, images are easily manipulated, and sharing can be instant. 
photographs by Anne Geddes
I can only imagine the trials Anne Geddes needed to go through to create her brilliant images. Shooting long before digital photography was available, Geddes was a trailblazer of baby photography and completely changed the way people looked at portraiture. The setup time required, the creation of props, the unlikeliness of having cooperative subjects... then the angst prior to developing the film must have been considerable. Geddes greeting cards, calendars and books have been sought after since the early 1990's. Geddes still shoots and devotes much time and effort to philanthropic causes
Small babies are ideal still life subjects - when they are asleep: posable, not likely to move, and asleep for extended periods! This has negated all the problems associated trying to get a newborn to smile for a camera - or at least to look a little bit awake. Some people have been having a lot of fun and results are very creative. I love the simplicity of the Blackboard Adventures shot by Anna of Cute Moments Photography.
photo from
A couple of mothers have turned their passions into lucrative careers, popular blogs, collections and even book contracts. Queenie Liao created Wengenn in Wonderland using her son as the subject in elaborate scenarios.
photo from
Adele Enersen started a blog posing her sleeping daughter in various poses entitled Mila's DaydreamsThe collection later published in the book When My Baby Dreams.
photo by adele enersen, found at
photo from:
Action Movie Kid is taking all of this digital fun to an extreme. With a dad employed by Dreamworks, this toddler has the most awesomely documented (!) life. My children couldn't stop laughing at the short (mostly around 10 second) movies made by James' father Daniel Hashimoto.
video still from

Monday, February 3, 2014

playground without rules…

I think back to my childhood with very fond memories. School days seemed to be spent in the playground with occasional breaks to learn the basic skills of reading writing and math. At primary school we would wolf down our packed lunch or snack (outdoors) before racing off to dig in the sandpit, jump on the trampoline, play amongst the gnarled roots of the cyprus trees, swing on the monkey bars, hang from branches, kick a ball, tumble on the horizontal bars, play tag, roller skate, play mini tennis or four-square, throw quoits, jump rope, play elastics/stockings, leapfrog the bollards, climb knotted ropes… basically act like kids. Less energetic pursuits involved cats cradle, jacks/knuckles or marbles. The whole school population took breaks together. The playground was alive and full of energy. This energy was contagious. All were engaged somehow.

I look at my kids today and feel sad. They eat lunch indoors, in the cafeteria. There is no play time after lunch. One 20 minute recess is provided per day. This is spent at the teacher's discretion and does not necessarily occur at the same time other classes have their break. Recess is spent outside, dependent upon weather conditions. Recess activities are regulated and there are restrictions on more boisterous activities. At least one child spends the major part of recess in time out. My oldest child tells me they are about to ban kids from playing football as they don't want children to tackle one another. It all seems very static and boring to me. 

Paul showed me this video of a stance taken in New Zealand (originally part of a university study) to remove onerous and stifling rules from the playground. The Principal who adopted this approach speaks about benefits here. The resulting impacts are brilliant. Not only are the children becoming more engaged and creative, there have been the added effects of increased camaraderie, less vandalism, no need for time outs, and reduced bullying. The children are also better equipped to learn as they burn up their excess energy through play. Love it! 

It reminded me of the playground scene in the first episode of the Seven Up series. Apparently, post-war Europe was well aware of the benefits of Adventure Play. See this documentary for a totally convincing case for free play and its benefits (from the 1960s perhaps?). 

For the sake of comparison, here is the American 'take' on removing rules in the  playground.

Monday, January 27, 2014

first visitors for the year

We have just said goodbye to our first visitors for the year. Paul's brother Arthur, his wife Nikki and their daughter Milena.

It was wonderful to finally meet our niece. The kids loved having a little one to entertain and it was great to see them trying to find activities for Milena. It would seem Mietta is totally over her 'stinky baby' reluctance to deal with anyone younger than she. 

It was SO very cold during their visit. So much so that the kids were at home during the entire visit - with snow and 'too cold to go to school' days. This curtailed sightseeing, but allowed for some lovely bonding. 
During a bout of sunshine and less-cold, we attempted a sledding expedition. This was great fun and enjoyed by all until we couldn't stand the cold any longer!