3 reasons young people can be great photographers

(“Running”, by 13 year-old photographer Gour from Calcutta)

Reason #1 “No one wants to kicks the puppy”:

The challenge of photography is often capturing that fleeting expression on someone’s face, a stray gesture, an unguarded moment where their true self is revealed. Pulling out a camera in that moment often destroys this. But people often find it easier to open up to young people than to adults.

Adults like helping young people. It makes us feel good and it reminds us of the people helped us when we were young. My great economics professor Larry Smith at the University of Waterloo called this principle “No one wants to kick the puppy.” This means that you can meet people and go places that adults would find it difficult to get access to and you should pretty much milk this for all it’s worth.

A great example of this is the Kids with Cameras project, which was featured in the Academy Award-winning documentary Born into Brothels. A group of photographers gave cameras and photography lessons to a group of kids living in a red-light district of Calcutta. People always tell aspiring writers to “write what you know”, and the pictures that came from these young photographers were so compelling, and so intimate, it’s hard to imagine an outsider achieving what they did:

(“Babai”, by 10 year-old photographer Kochi from Calcutta)

(Stay tuned for reasons 2 and 3.)

“You asked me what I came here to do. I came into this world to live out loud.” — Emile Zola

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A blog about culture and technology in South-East Asia.

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