Photography: A Few Thoughts on Why and How

Those of us who are drawn to the work of the educators and the children in Reggio Emilia, Italy are struck by the beauty that we see in the learning environments, in the work with materials, in the care for every detail of how experiences are presented to children and how wholehearted learning and joy are captured in photographs and other media.  If we are serious about acting on our inspiration from Italy, one thing that we might do is to consider what is involved in taking good, meaningful, beautiful photographs of children and of learning.  This takes time and learned skills.

I have loved taking photographs for most of my adult life.  I was fortunate to enroll in a photography course in college and I spent hours in a dark room with friends watching my photos come to life.  This course, with a beloved and excellent photographer, set the stage for me.  Photography became a vehicle to communicate what I was learning in a local elementary school while taking taking courses in education and sociology.  I loved being a photographer as a parent of small children and also as a young teacher, even before I knew about Reggio Emilia.  I realized the power of well composed photographs to tell stories.

Soon after I came home from the hospital about three weeks ago, I realized that I would be homebound.  I decided that I would shoot photographs every day and that I would choose one to represent each day.  Since I am limited to my Vermont home, these photos are taken from the inside looking out or they are of interiors of rooms. If family and friends are here, they become subjects.  In choosing my photo of the day, I am looking for strong compositions, interesting and good light, a new angle on a familiar subject, something of passing beauty that I do not want to forget.  I delete many of the photos that I take because they are not quite right in some way...too cluttered, not the right angle, too dark, for example.  Developing an eye for taking, selecting and displaying good photographs is a worthwhile pursuit.  In schools, students will be proud that their learning is documented.  Parents will be thrilled to see their children's learning in action.  All of us will be grateful that we have beautiful images to both represent and tell the stories of our learning journeys through the days, months and years of growth and change.