It’s A New Year; New Lives; Children Of The World

"My mother loved children--she would have given anything if I had been one."--Groucho Marx

As hard as it may be for some of the young people in my neighborhood to believe, I was once a child myself. I have three grandchildren and a daughter and once upon a time wrote a story about her for ComputerUSER magazine. The story was optioned by an independent producer who wanted to turn it into a Lifetime TV movie, but alas, like many, many movie projects, it never made it to the little screen. In this month's Web Profiles, we take a look at how photographers capture children and other subjects.

© 2006, Daniel McKernan, All Rights Reserved
Wrapped in a chic site design, Corey Civetta's portraits of children, babies, and toddlers is a living testament that pictures of kids don't have to be of the "say cheese" variety and can be as introspective as adult portraiture. The Beginnings gallery showcases sensitive color maternity photographs as well as expressive monochrome images of newborns, while Babies & Toddlers is filled with cute images of little kids that successfully transcend shopping mall "kiddie" photographs so even the most blasé parent will be able to see the difference. The Children gallery combines color and monochrome stylings blending documentary and traditional portrait styles to create its very own genre. Yes, it's that good.

In another synthesis of styles, Civetta adds a touch of fashion photography to portraits of "tweens and teens" without making them look like kids pretending to be adults. The Etcetera section shows that she can make portraits of grown-ups, too, but it's the kids who are clearly the stars and the heartbeat of Civetta's work. The site design, while exemplary, can be slow to load even with a broadband connection, but not annoyingly so. She's not shy and posts her affordable rates. Civetta is a member of the International Registry of Children's Photographers (, an organization that promotes the highest standards of children's portraiture.

© 2006, Corey Civetta Photography, All Rights Reserved
Here is yet another beautifully designed website based on the work of a photographer of children who expands the genre's definition to embrace both falling down cute and art. Andrea Rees is a Canadian photo artist who works mostly in color with a few monochrome images tossed in to keep you off balance. Images are collected into five galleries: The Newborn/Baby Gallery includes wonderfully inventive images of tiny babies being held by their parents, but center on the child. Parents are only seen as arms and legs dressed in black. By eliminating the cute, Rees creates perceptive images of these children. You'll find older kids in the Children's Gallery that focuses more on the child's personality, much as a portrait photographer would work with an older subject. The Relationship Gallery lets the parents come out of the background and take center stage with kids of all ages where Rees captures spontaneous moments of bliss that are a delight to behold. The Maternity Gallery shows artistic images, many in monochrome, of mothers-to-be, some of them tastefully nude. The Designs Gallery includes charming montages of images with text in many styles and shapes that are unfortunately marred by REALLY BIG watermarks the Webmaster did not deem necessary for the other galleries. Rees offers both an HTML and Flash version of her website; my comments are based on the Flash version.

© 2006, Andrea Rees Photography, All Rights Reserved
Photographer Jacqui McSweeney is one of Brighton's (England) best-loved wedding photographers, shooting weddings in a fun, informal style. Her work combines photojournalism and informal portraits in black and white and color. The cleverly designed Flash-based site contains a single gallery plus online albums that are password protected for her clients, but you get to see some of her work from these events in the title window. Those offended by such things should know that one of the event albums is for a "civil partnership."

McSweeney's wedding images possess an artless spontaneity that captures the joy of this special day in a refreshing style that her clients must love and the rest of us can simply admire. Photographs include a few cuter than cute kids all dressed up in their wedding finery, the best of which show a typical kid's view of being thrust into this oh-so-adult stage and their unimpressed view of their roles. McSweeney thinks--and it shows in her images--that the role of the wedding photographers is to "ensure that everyone has as much fun as they can while we are shooting."

© 2006, Jacqui McSweeney, All Rights Reserved
The kids who appear in Luca Prasso's photo essays are not as lucky as Civetta and Rees' subjects, but represent a far too large percentage of the children found not only in the rest of the world, but in these United States as well. In "Innocence Above" Prasso takes you to Two kindergarden that's built overlooking the Favela San Jose in Brazil. If you've seen the film City of God, you know what these kids have to deal with. If you haven't seen the film, I urge you to do so. Clicking on the thumbnail launches the essay in slide show fashion, showing poignant monochrome images accompanied by music that's completely different from the tunes used in the previous websites.

Far from the human misery many such essays depict, Prasso's insightful imagery made in the classic concerned-photographer tradition show that the kids are happy because the life they lead is so much better than what might otherwise be their fate. These kids will never have a PlayStation, let alone ever see one, but here in this island they can escape from an ocean of poverty and violence. There are six other essays here, including "Chainsaw Family" that depicts the life of 11 people living in a small mud shack. Six children go to school but there is no work for the father. No music here, just dialog. Even if you don't speak Portuguese, the message is clear and so is the future for these children. These essays are more than a collection of photographs; they are a call to action. I've never before been so moved by the images on any website as I was by Prasso's photo essays.

© 2006, Luca Prasso, All Rights Reserved