Thoughts on children and art

As a parent creativity has re-entered my life formally (homework!) and informally (Dad, draw me a picture of a dinosaur), and it has been interesting to combine this with my own semi-artistic output: I have no formal training but studied photography at night school when I was 16 and ran the University Photography Society. Both my learning and teaching experiences were around the craft and mechanics of film photography.

My creative collaborations with my daughters have been very rewarding and the rules I have are:

  • Children should have the permission and ability to use tools – their cameras or mine – as they see fit. I have a responsibility to teach them how to use them effectively.
  • They have a veto on anything displayed publicly that includes them. They understand the various public/friends/family/private settings in Flickr and what they mean. (I have a photo I’d love to enter for a competition but C has said ‘no’ as it shows her weeping while her sister looks on smugly.)
  • I hope to move beyond photos of children looking cute / at parties / having fun / showing off. It can take a while but it’s always worth it. It’s fascinating to think about the conventions of child photography: studio pictures, mum/dad pictures (especially on phone lock/wallpaper screens!), pictures for grandparents. All have their place; all should be interrogated.
  • I try to record life as it is lived. Beauty can be found in individual moments but more often it’s the accumulation of moments that counts (again, so interesting on a formal level).

Huw Hitchin