I love pictures that tell a story as a collection; especially when the set of photos are from different locations around the world.
This fascination of photographing a single aspect of everyday life or an everyday object in different places began when I traveled to Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and Peru last winter. Something as simple as a door has a whole new sense of beauty once seen from a new perspective.
So I photographed hundreds of doors. Each door tells a separate story. And together, they tell another story.
In James Mollison’s photography book, “Where Children Sleep,” he tells, “stories of diverse children around the world… through portraits and pictures of their bedrooms.”
Next to a portrait of the child is a photo of where they sleep (some have a bedroom while others have a communal sleeping space). Some kiddos have the traditional items thought to be in a bedroom: bed, toys and games, while others do not have these items. Instead where they sleep is barren and without anything colorful or childish.
Mollison doesn’t tell a story about children’s rights, he shows it. And to me, that is the greatest gift of a storyteller: showing not telling.
“Where Children Sleep” features diverse lifestyles, from four-year-old Kaya in Tokyo, Japan whose room has hundreds of toys and extravagant dresses, to nine-year-old Alex in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil whose room is a couch outside of a shack.
Seeing insulation pour out of a child’s ceiling grabs my attention more than a statistic about unsafe living conditions ever could. These pictures inform and elicit curiosity. The viewer is then able to read an extensive caption if desired to learn more.
The featured children are from rich families, poor families, families who live in the snow and families who live in the desert. Mollison says, “From the start, I didn’t want it just to be about ‘needy children’ in the developing world, but rather something more inclusive, about children from all types of situations.”
While the book started as a children’s right project (and later fell through), Mollison claims that he is not pushing an agenda; he wants to share the images and stories that moved him.
As millennial attention spans shorten, I believe photos are going to be telling more stories than words.
Here is a quote from James Mollison that I want to end on:
“I hope this book will help children think about inequality, within and between societies around the world, and perhaps start to figure out how, in their own lives, they may respond.”