What do you see when you look at this photo?
This morning as we sat at our wooden patio table outside in our warm Texas backyard for a late breakfast, my younger daughter climbed up on her chair and decided to feed her little brother the rest of his polenta. I thought, "How cute!", and ran inside to grab my camera so I could preserve this memory that will soon be lost - one I wish to remember for years to come and something our children will enjoying seeing when they grow older and have children of their own. I shared this photo on my Daida L'Orange Facebook page in an album entitled "The Little Things" where I often post photos of the moments of life's little things that we often overlook, the things we rarely stop to capture, but one day wish we did. In my opinion, photos don't need to be staged for a memory to be preserved and this was a perfect example of that.
What I see in this photo is a beautiful moment between a sister and her little brother. What I didn't see, until someone pointed it out, was an inappropriate photo of a child wearing nothing but underwear. It was further suggested that it might not be prudent to post photos online of my children minimally dressed for fear that it might give a "sicko" something to "use". I'm truly sorry that this person and so many others have had such unfortunate and bad experiences which cause them to be so afraid to share such beautiful moments with the world. It's sad to see that one person can turn a cherished moment into something so ugly. I, too, was notified by a fellow prop maker one Christmas season two years ago that she had seen a photo of my baby Sagey somewhere "questionable". Did it bother me? Sure, but I didn't do anything about it as I realize that in this day and age of global sharing on the Internet these things do and will happen whether we like it or not. There are "sickos" out there but there are also many more people who do see the beauty in life. You, and only you, choose to share your photos online and in doing so realize that someone out there might just use your photo the "wrong" way. At one point, fear starts to take over and you might decide it's better to hide and not share your viewpoint of life with others. You stop sharing photos and start taking cover. It only takes one apple, so the saying goes.
I recall a photo I saw in Ginny Felch's book "Photographing Children" in the chapter on "Seeing the Light" of a young boy painting at an artist's easel while sunlight danced across his back. It is a beautiful photo of a lovely moment of a little boy, his pacifier, and his paintbrush. The similarity between that photo and my photo is that both children were minimally dressed - wearing nothing but underwear. Although I do realize that we all have a different point of view, it's truly sad when something that is so innocent and happy is turned into something that is "inappropriate" and "wrong". When you meet people, do you notice their skin color and race or do you notice them as a person, a human being, someone with whom you connect? When you look at photos of newborns, do you see a naked baby that should be covered up immediately so as to not cause an uproar or do you see the wonder and miracle of a new life?
Wouldn't it be great if we could just learn to see the beauty around us without the ugliness that abounds? To not be so concerned about what others are thinking and to learn to cherish life's beautiful moments? What kind of life would you lead if it was one of constant fear? Should we simply lock the doors, pull the curtains shut, and disconnect from the world? I, for one, will not be a prisoner to the ignorance of others and will continue to share my views of life and the world.
I agree that it's nice to see children all dressed up and pretty in photos with their hair combed just right and not a wrinkle to be found in their clothing. I'm sure you have many of those "staged" photos, but how many photos do you have of your children just enjoying the little things exactly how they are - natural and unstaged? To me, those are life's hidden and most cherished moments and ones that mean more to me than will any "perfect" staged photo. Life is real, it's not perfect. Capture the little moments while you still can. Oh, and if you happen to stop by our house during these hot Summer days, you will notice that our children hardly wear clothes. That is life in Texas!