Below is my collection of photos on the topic of “Children of Japan.” While living in Japan as a mathematics teacher for over 10 years, I found my camera was a great way to interact with the wonderful people of the Rising Sun.
Taking photos of children requires special care and consideration. My practice was to first approach the mom or dad, do a polite bow, give a genuine smile, and then simply point my camera at their child with a questioning look on my face. Rarely would a parent deny permission.
After this initial “meet and greet,” the issue now is how to take a true portrait. The problem is that in any photo of a person, one never should just say “smile.” This is especially true with a child speaking a different language. The question is how should the photographer get the child to relax and then capture some honest emotion? The answer is simple! All the photographer has to do is not be afraid to embarrass himself. Give the child an exaggerated smile, tilt your head, and then make rather silly faces. After a few seconds, the child begins to react with a variety of looks. “Being Silly” is a universal language of all cultures and all ages.
For each of my images, I can remember the child, the parents, and the circumstances when the photo was taken. After returning to the states, I tell all my photographic friends there is no better place to be with a camera than in Japan