How To Make It A Game?

  • Play is important to the development of a child. It nurtures his sense of humor, develops his manual skills, increasing his self-reliance, and helps him to understand better the world around him. Playthings of all kinds, even empty cartons, blocks of wood or cotton reels, have great educational value. To a photographer of children, toys are tools second only in importance to the camera. You must regard play as your main ally in gaining the child's interest and friendliness.

  • You can succeed with children best by playing games appropriate to their phase of development. The average child from a few weeks of age, loves to be talked to or sung to. At three to six months he enjoys a few simple toys such as rattles and bells. He likes them to make a loud noise and has a distinct preference for the basic colors, the brighter the better. Pastel- colored toys are made with parent-appeal. The child has not yet learned to appreciate subtler shades.

  • If he still appears to regard you as a monster, take refuge behind the camera and let a Teddy-bear work for you. It is sad but true, that a furry, foam-plastic tilled, glass-eyed representation of a bear-cub will often elicit a quicker response from the child than the face nature provided you with. Toys come and go, including replicas of the appurtenances of the Space Age, but dear old Teddy has come down to us from Victorian times and is still an almost universal favorite in his traditional shape. Almost, I say, because a few children have a phobia concerning all fur-covered toys. Some can even become hysterical at the thought of one touching them. So, even though the average child will gurgle with delight if a toy dog, or a bear, appears to talk to him or touches his toes, a watch must be kept for the slightest sign that the kiddy finds this kind of toy repugnant.

  • The nine-month-old child loves you to play Peep-bo from behind the camera. He delights in repetitive games and seems to gain some satisfaction from the fact that each time a game is played the result is exactly the same. He will solemnly watch you go through the play-routine several times, suddenly laughing at the third or fourth repeat.

  • As the child reaches his first birthday he likes to try out his manipulative skills and to satisfy his curiosity about shapes and textures, colors and sounds. Bricks and pegs and simple wheeled toys interest him. He will put most toys into his mouth, so make sure that all the toys in the studio toy cupboard are hygienic and too large to be swallowed or to get stuck in little throats.

  • From the second year, play develops the child's manual skills and sense perception, but even more important, satisfaction at his increasing dexterity gives him emotional stability. He will like to demonstrate his skill with a ball now, or look at the pictures in a book. Ask him to show you the picture of the kitten. 'That's not a Pussy, it's a Bunny,' you say. Your deliberate mistake will cause him great amusement.

  • I like to have shelves overflowing with colorful toys of all kinds, visible to the kiddy when he enters the studio. Most children are kept in an animated state of anticipation while I meditate aloud on which toy to take down next from the shelf. Children who have been used to putting on a demonstration to get what they want are liable to demand to be given one of the studio toys, and another, and another, ad infinitum. Such children are not content to watch toys as you manipulate them. And since you will get nowhere by transferring each toy from your shelves to the child's hands, only to be discarded and another demanded, there is nothing for it but to put all toys out of sight and try a different approach.

  • Probably the most useful toys in the studio are puppets of various kinds, glove puppets, string puppets and animated figures. Skill at manipulating these with one hand while the other hand holds the camera-release is useful and it is also helpful if you can design and make novelties of this kind. In these affluent days this is probably the only way of ensuring that you have novelties that are unfamiliar to the little folk.

  • If a child throws every toy down, either in temper or because he thinks it is amusing to make someone pick them up, hand him a ball and when he throws it try and catch it. Hand it back to him and say, 'That's a good game. Throw it again. I'll see if I can catch it.' He can often be side-tracked in this way into a game more likely to produce picture opportunities.

  • Often the most attractive thing to a child is the camera itself. I have seen small babies stare at my equipment quite fascinated and many toddlers reach out for it. An old camera kept as a play-thing is sometimes useful and many toddlers like to play at 'taking photographs'. Parents sometimes ask if they should bring a familiar toy to the studio probably a particular favorite of the child. Usually I advise against this as we depend to a great extent on surprise and a child will usually discard its own toys in order to get hold of one he has not seen before. The unfamiliar is usually more exciting. In the case of an extremely nervous or cautious child, however, some confidence might be gained from the presence of a favorite toy, probably a battered animal and a bed-time companion. Such toys are alive in the child's imagination and he not only gives them affection, he also works off some of his frustrations on them. If the toddler is often at the receiving end of his mother's scolding, the child in turn will sometimes scold poor old Teddy.

  • Imaginative play indulged in by the pre-school child serves an important function as a safety valve. Most children suffer some frustration and emotional stress at this stage and make-believe allows them to externalize some of their feelings and in this way relieve some of the inner pressure. Never ridicule this, but go along with it. Reality and fantasy are inextricably mixed up in the child's world and if we are to gain their confidence we must be prepared to believe, not so much in fairies these days, but in Indians, and space-men and secret agents such is the influence of television.

  • You can use play to overcome resistance. You can use it to induce the child to do our bidding. If you want him to take something out of his mouth, to stand up or to sit down, to crawl, to put his tongue in or to do almost anything that he does not want to do, your only chance of success is to devise a game, to turn it all into fun. Get him to do something, to participate in a guessing competition, to draw pictures, to read a book, to peep, shout, dance, and sing. Make a game of it all.

More about Child Behavior Pattern During Photography

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