By Walter Ang
Nov. 3, 2008
Philippine Daily Inquirer
|"Alon Self Half" by Alon Severino|
"We wanted to do something different for his birthday and photography is something that almost everyone can relate to," he says. "Of course, we were quite proud of him, but the pictures are less a testament to any budding talent than a commentary on the democratizing power of technology. It's really seeing the world through the eyes of a child and photography is just the medium"
Severino waxes enthusiastic about the possibilities that are now available for children as far as photography is concerned. "Kids can takes pictures because they can these days. When I was a kid, cameras were big, expensive, shot on film, and off limits to kids," he says. He recalls being apprehensive about using the family camera because if he caused any damage to it he would've had to contend with an entire group of people.
In his blog howieseverino.blogspot.com, Severino notes, "With cameras getting cheaper, better and smaller, it's a wonderful time to be a kid. You can record your own childhood ? including the way your face is evolving -- and not rely on the biased eyes of those who have left childhood far behind."
Severino points out that the digital divide "is being bridged by cheaper and better gadgets, but this divide usually refers to economic class, or even continents." He posits, however, that "we rarely do we mean age, and in Alon's case the ability of modern technology to empower someone who just turned six."
Alon has been taking photography workshops exclusive for children at Kidsahoy, a venue for parents who want a social environment for their children to learn and play. Instructor Kaloy Yap points out the differences in teaching photography to adults and children. "With adults it's more of the nitty gritty aspects of photography and the tone is more formal. With children, it has to involve play and incorporates fun while they learn," he says.
Current workshops are composed of ten sessions with one topic per session. "It's actually a detailed currciculm but it's very accessible. We teach kids about everything and anything that you can find in a regular point and shoot camera. We have topics such as portraiture and landscape photography," Yap says.
To make things more interesting, classes on macro or close-up photography involves a trip to the backyard and unearthing stones to shoot ants and maggots. Parents are tasked to model for the portraiture classes. "It's fun to see children directing their own parents on the `correct' way to pose," says Yap. The workshop also includes a session on light painting, taking photos of a moving light source such as a flashlight in a darkened room. "When the kids start showing signs of boredom, we bring out the toys and ask them to take photos of the toys," he adds.
As for equipment, students can use "whatever their parents give them." Yap points out that digital cameras are the norm for children as they are sturdy and some models are even waterproof. "There are cameras now that you can drop from as high as six feet and you can also swim with them to several meters below the water," he says.
Nina Gonzales has taught photography workshops to teenage girls from Sagada National Highschool and was co-curator of Foto Baryo, a touring photography exhibit featuring works of children (most recently held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines). "In general, technology in photography has hugely impacted the access to imagery. Age is little limitation here because photography is so innately connected to the eye and the view. One person's glance can be as inspiring as anyone else's regardless of age or geography," she says.
"The world looks different to kids," says Severino. "At naturally low or crazy angles, the shots also focus on things the adult eye may not: favorite toys, for example, or his mother through an electric fan."
This does not mean, however, that the quality of their compositions or shots are inferior to adults' output. Yap says, "Children will surprise you with angles or shots that rival a professional. It's almost mostly from a 'worm's eye view' because of their height, but they have a fresh view."
For details on Foto Baryo, email email@example.com. For details on photography workshops at Kidsahoy, call 0920-517-8127.
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