Behind this shot : Happy kid. 5

I made this photo last week. I spotted this little girl with her windmill on the Place de la Mairie. My attention was attracted by laughter from children. The streets of Aix-en-Provence are more and more frequented by tourists enjoying the pre-season. Given the current temperatures, we quickly believe that it’s summer ! The two little girls were dressed identically and had fun with their windmills. At the time of tablets, video games or other addictive screens, it was refreshing to see that a simple windmill could give them as much pleasure. Do you have the right to take pictures of children in public places ?



  • Legal point of view

Children have a different image right compare to adults in the sense that their parents are the custodians of this right. As for adults, nothing legally forbids us to take their photos, but what is problematic, of course, is to make these photos public. For adults, case law has been handed down in disputes between street photographers and people who complained that their image right was violated (because they appeared in photographs). Freedom of artistic expression takes precedence over individual freedom (in public places) insofar as the photo does not undermine the dignity of the person photographed or causes them harm. The same goes for children.



  • Ethical point of view

Like many people, I am a father of two young children. How would I react if someone took a picture of them ? I will be honest with you, it would surprise me. The problem is that we are now living in a society that has lost its innocence. Blame it on all these sordid stories where children have been abused. Our society has become very suspicious and generally we are wary of any unusual behavior with children. Me first, I am very attentive to what is happening around my children in public places. Taking pictures of children in street photography is pretty tricky. You do not know how the photographic act will be interpreted.



Some prefer to stay away from children because they are too sensitive subjecs. I do not think that’s the case. I just think that the reaction (if there is a reaction) may be more epidermal because we deal with offsprings of people. Personally, I am naturally attracted to children on the street. I like their candor and their joie de vivre. They are unpredictable and always offer us interesting situations to photograph. Children see life as a game and are constantly having fun. Quite often I try to photograph them in a discreet way without arousing the suspicions of the parents or otherwise I show the parents that the situation seems to me amusing and that is the reason why I make a picture. The smile often allows to tacitly validate the photographic act. This is the case for this photo below made in Bath during my recent visit to UK. I saw this mom playing with her three daughters in the street. When I saw this scene, I rushed on it and took the picture smiling because I was really amused by this scene. The mother gave me back that smile because she knew I was not a threat.



Let’s go back to the opening photo of this Blog. Here, I operated in a discreet way without the parents suspecting that I was taking the little girl in photo. My little Ricoh GR makes me very discreet and especially harmless. I avoid being intrusive with children, preferring to keep a little distance. I tried to take a photo while trying to capture an interesting attitude, but I had a lot of trouble. I followed them a bit because the dad took his little girl on his shoulders and I was waiting for something to happen. Like very often in the street, nothing happened. We went up the street Gaston de Saporta, then we passed in front of the cathedral. I thought at that moment that there was nothing to wait. That I would not have my picture. It was at this moment that the father and the little girl turned around, finally offering me this interesting picture. I love this picture because there is a lot of simplicity in this one. It is a photo that breathes the joy of life and the little girl stands out perfectly on the sky with its windmill.



All the pictures were made with the Ricoh GR and the Ricoh GRD 4.

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5 thoughts on “Behind this shot : Happy kid.

  • John Harper

    They are a joy to photograph, no inhibitions and as you say they have that ‘joie de vivre’ which as adults we have mostly lost. When I photograph Family Portrait sessions it really is easy to work with them. Always shooting outdoors, the kids just do their own thing, the adults are much more tricky, but relax when they’re interacting with the children. They make for some great photographs as is evident with your images here.

    On the street I avoid taking photos of kids, it’s such a fine line, which of course it shouldn’t be, but there is this kind of vigil and awareness nowadays from parents. Amélie is 9 years old, no way is she allowed to walk the small distance to the village park. When I was 7 years old I would walk to school on my own and when I got home in the afternoon I’d disappear on my bicycle for hours on end to play with my friends, we lived in a busy town centre…different times. I’ve never given much thought to how I’d feel about my own children being photographed in a public area, I’d certainly notice it because I’m so alert to everything going on. If they’re openly taking shots in the street I can’t see any harm. The internet is what troubles most parents it seems, they don’t want their children’s image plastered all over the place. What would really piss me off is if a photograph of one of my kids ended up being sold by another photographer!

    • Jeff Chane-Mouye Post author

      I understand why some people like yourself don’t want to take pictures of them in the street. I used to have the same feeling about that but I changed my mind considering that kids are part of the Street. Of course, I share some photos of them on my Blog like any other people. I think that we take it more seriously when it comes to kids because, we feel that it’s our duty to protect them. They are harmless and can’t defend themselves. But if we look closely, I don’t think that there are any differences with photos of adults. The problem remains the same. We share photos of perfect strangers (kids or adults) without their consentment.
      Well it’s an interesting topic and it would be nice to know the point of view of others Street Photographers on this.
      Thanks for sharing your opinion on that John !

      Cheers !

      • John Harper

        My opinion has changed slightly. I’ve given it some thought and what you say stacks up…there is little difference in Street Photography terms and actually if we think about the iconic photographs from the ‘greats’ they often include children. I think because I photograph my own kids so much and those for clients I almost ignore them when I’m doing ‘Street’.

        • Jeff Chane-Mouye Post author

          They are still sensible subjects to photograph in the streets, but I like to picture them because I love their innocence and their joy. They remind me of my kids and it’s always a challenge to get something insteresting with kids.