How babies engage with photography
Being a photographer, one of the things that fascinated me when I had my wonderful little girl is how she responded to photographs of herself and others.
Children don’t actually reach the ‘mirror stage’ (when they recognise a reflection as belonging to them) until about 15 months, but from six months onwards; they can generally start to interact with photographs, even though they don’t quite understand exactly what photographs are!
The limbo period
With Alice, there was quite an amusing limbo period where she became very fascinated by baby photographs of herself and indeed her mirror reflection, but the penny hadn’t yet dropped that this was actually her!
Rather than recognising the reflection as a reflection of herself, she seemed to see the photographs and reflections as playmates, and devoted a lot of time to hanging out with her two-dimensional counterparts.
Key part of development
The moment when your baby starts to recognise mirror reflections and photographs as representative of other humans is a really important part of their early development. The French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan said that it marked a “decisive turning-point” in a child’s mental development.
You can help encourage that development
Given that most psychologists and psychoanalysts believe that this part of a baby’s development is really important, it stands to reason that as parents we want to try as hard as we can to encourage it.
Fortunately, this is a part of your baby’s development that is a pretty easy one to help out with. Making sure that your baby has his or her fair share of photographs to play with is a great place to start. Try to include pictures of close family members as well as a few of themselves; as these will be the familiar faces that they’ll know for years to come.
If you’re looking for ideas on how to get your child to engage with photography, why not try some of the following suggestions:
- Making them an album with photographs of Mummy, Daddy and any other siblings in it. You can expand this to include grandparents and close family friends too
- Lots of tablets have a function where you can take a ‘selfie’ type picture and your baby will be able to see his or her changing reflection, so why not give them one of those to play with?
- Talk to them about the photographs and explain who’s in each one. They might not be able to reply, but they’re taking in information all the time.
Is your baby at the mirror stage? Do they like looking at photographs? What ideas have you got for how to help their development along?
About the photographer: Sue is a professional portrait photographer based in Harlow, Essex and she specialises in baby and child portraiture. Being a parent, she understands just how special your child is to you and her aim is to produce a collection of images that are natural and meaningful to your family. No two moments are ever the same and she wants to perfectly capture those early precious memories and the natural character of your child. For more information please call 01279 433392, or visit the Sue Kennedy Photography website.