I have to mention this brilliant interview on Blake Andrew’s blog from photographer Stephen A. Scheer
The Vivian Maier story still has NOT be covered yet by any French media. That drives me crazy…
Most pictures are about kids playing outside. And of course each time one look at a body of work of that subject matter one can’t help to think that it is almost impossible to make something similar today. Actually that is quite true, but I believe not because of the primary reason one thinks in the first place which is the rampant paranoia about shooting kids in public. That is a fact for sure, but I believe there are 2 other important reasons why such a work is no more possible today, at least in most places of Europe and North America.
The first reason is the place of camera and more generally of picture making in our society. It has become such a banal thing to shoot pictures (including by kids themselves) that the presence of a photographer amid a group of kids does not involve the same reaction from them. This is true when kids are aware to be photographed, which is the case for some of the pictures here, as well as many from Helen Levitt. Kids are probably much more aware of their image to be recorded than they were before. It is hard to explain but I think a sense of innocence is lost in front of the camera. Kids are “cheating” in front of the lens in a way they did not before, when a camera was something more exotic and picture-making instinctively perceived as a much less trivial act.
The second reason is very different and has to do with the environment of outdoor kids game. I remember when I was a kid in the late 70’s there were not so many playgrounds as we have today in big cities. We played in the street, literally, and in some places that I believe were not very safe in retrospect, not unlike what is shown in Trevor’s photographs. Now most young kids are given dedicated places to play. There are playgrounds everywhere (at least in Europe and North America). As a consequence kids’ road games has become a much more marginal thing. It is probably a good think from a security point of view but not so much from an “imagination-building” point of view (by the way I am often amused to see how kids always try to break the rules, for example in the playground when they would climb the sliders instead of using the ladder).
These last two reasons make me believe that it is kind of pointless to try to make similar photographs of kids today, even if there was not that paranoia. It is an obsolete view, at least in some places of the World. Not that you should not photograph kids but the approach has to be changed to reflect today’s reality which is different. Let’s move on.