Saturday, January 19, 2013


Trawling through the thousands of photographs I've taken over the past four years I struggled to find more than half a dozen in which children were the focus, apart from photographs I'd taken at the request of parents, or those in which children were simply in the periphery - the main focus being someone or something else. I suppose that I'd always been interested in older people because having lived their lives their experience showed on their face in various ways and this is what drew my attention to them. Of the half a dozen or so photographs that I've taken of children here is one of a mother and child (framed the photo so that only the mothers hand's and arms could be seen) at the city square in Melbourne in 2009. I was interested in the fact that I could capture in an instant the gesture of a mother wiping dirt off her child's face.
Also in 2009 I was watching, along with many other people the dragon winding its way through China town during the Chinese New Year Festival. I was drawn to the look on the child's face, on the face of her father and the beauty of their relationship.
Back in 2010 I was fascinated by the way water was distorting the image of a small child crawling behind the water wall inside the National Gallery of Victoria. I took some photos and then went inside and showed them to his mother. She loved this one and requested two enlarged copies of it, one for her and one for her mother in law.
This is why I was thoroughly shocked, insulted and offended yesterday when a Manager/Owner of a coffee shop in Camberwell said when he saw me with my camera, that if I brought out my camera again then they would not serve me. Apparently (according to him) he'd had four complaints from people saying that they didn't want their children photographed. I was sitting outside the coffee shop in the previous days (as it is a coffee shop that I regularly frequented) and had my camera out scanning for something to photograph, and in actual fact I'd only taken one photograph (from a distance) of a young girl and I took it simply because I was interested in the composition.
I really can't think why anyone would think that these photographs could be construed as sexual in nature or be used for sexual gratification, the children are fully clothed, not at the beach or swimming pool or in a private gymnasium and I am offended that people would think that I would be, or could be party to taking inappropriate images of children. I am equally appalled with the mind's of the parent's who complained. Must they see ugliness everywhere?


  1. I'm afraid it is too easy to feed an image into google search and begin to un-anonymise photographic portraits, modern biometric processes (predictably) seem to be awakening fears about imagery that had previously laid dormant in society.

  2. I am well aware that people are concerned that they (or their children) may be compromised in the future because of images placed on the Internet. But I believe the concern relates to images in which the person (child or adult) is depicted in an inappropriate manner, hence why there has been some outrage by parents and others to people taking photographs of children in bathing wear on the beach. What upset me was that there is an implicit understanding in the parent's complaints about me to the owner of the cafe, that I was someone who(1) photographed children (11) that I had some ulterior motive, one related to either the distribution of such images for the sexual gratification of others, or for my own gratification (111) that I may sell the photographs for personal gain. Just because a person has a camera in their hand doesn't mean that they are photographing children and I found it disturbing that the owner could make a decision when he had absolutely no proof of what the people had said. The fact that I did actually take a photo is neither here nor there. Since no one saw the photo in my camera, they were basing their condemnation on assumption rather than fact. The other side of the argument is that even if a person is photographing children, there is no reason to assume that they are sexual predators. As I said in my original post above, I rarely photograph children, I generally do not find them visually interesting enough, but with this event under my belt I'll certainly be more vigilant when aiming my camera in public places, even though there are no current laws in Australia that restrict the taking of photographs in the public domain.

  3. Anxieties about cameras are not new but are easier for people to express now that some of those anxieties have been renewed, for instance by Miranda Devine and Hetty Johnson.

  4. The paranoia of people is widespread and the Bill Henson case is a different matter entirely, for he consciously seeks out pre-pubescent subjects and photographs them in their naked vulnerability. Fact is, you can't talk about the anxieties of being in the transitional state between child and adult (as is the case in much of Henson's work) without actually depicting that state, as indeed you would find it difficult critiquing war without mentioning weapons. It's the issue that people could 'paint me black' based on assumption, rather than fact that pissed me off! Close person to me said in response to this event 'Now you know how men feel when walking along in a park if there are children around'. It appears that anyone/everyone is held in suspicion these days - guilty until proven innocent!