My first tryst with photography was with those classic ‘point and shoot’ reel cameras and as a 90s kid with a classic Kodak yellow film with 32 shots was all you had at your disposal! My parents were generous enough to let me waste a few when they would be done clicking all the landscape pictures at every single holiday. But, I think the most exciting part for me was how different it was to experience a photograph when it would come out in print a week later. Maybe the wait added to the charm. To click a photograph was all a play of frames then. I was soon upgraded to a small Canon digital camera that I used for personal use.
At age 14, I was visiting a school on the outskirts of the city of Jaipur for the nomad children and clicked a lot of pictures for the purpose of documentation for my school project. But, the photographs told a different story hitherto invisible to the naked eye. The photographs brought out the sharp contrast between my school life and the one I had merely visited. I became cognizant of the instrumental role of pictures to create an interconnected idea of self and society on one hand and the divide on the other.
But why am I advocating specifically for children to learn photography? Well, because it teaches empathy, builds perspective and it must start early. Photography is an art and if guided well, children can use it as an effective tool to communicate their ideas and emotions and also bring about the greater impact and social change. Photographs have strong emotive elements that can stir one to take action and keep a steady positive attitude. A simple change that a photograph can bring about in a person is stronger than what words can do. The beauty of it lies in its universality, a simple photograph can cut across all language barriers to communicate. Slowly, but effectively photographs create a stronger platform for dialogue.
Moreover, children are brimming with creativity and their little world so full of ideas and thoughts that they need a big bucket of expression. Photography builds perspective for creative work, aiding in both expression and communication. It’s like a writing poem in real imagery.
Most importantly, the invasiveness of technology in the lives of children is pushing them back into their virtual world and they must get back into the wild before the adults are successful in ripping Mother Earth apart. Photography is that one hobby that would help children go out in wild. So, let them go wild with it!