Free Cinema: Little Photographers

8. 9. 2020 - 2. 11. 2020

Presentation of photographs in Leica Gallery Café

Free Cinema: Little Photographers

Free Cinema is a talent and education company that has been hosting successful film, animation and photography courses and workshops across the Czech Republic for eight years. One of the programmes that the company offers is a course of analogue photography for children called Little photographers. The idea that lead to the course’s creation four years ago was to teach children to think about photography and not to furiously and thoughtlessly press the shutter, like many do when taking pictures on a smartphone. Tereza, Alexandra and Bara, film studies classmates and avid photographers, familiarize children with analogue photography, traditional cameras, funky plastic Lomography cameras or with wood camera sliders. They teach the little enthusiasts how to load film into the camera, how to set up the aperture, how to focus correctly, but first and foremost they teach the children how to slow down – to sit in front of the photographed object and think about whether everything is visually pleasant enough for a unique photograph to be created. If so, children further think about how to construct the particular photograph in terms of composition and their own feeling.

Photography is a process worth enjoying fully from the beginning to the end. That is why the lecturers place emphasis on the creative process and give the children the space to relish it. This process is further supported by the characteristics of analogue photography which demands patience in the form of waiting for the final photograph for a number of days. In some ways, the final product is secondary. To experience analogue photography fully is to be to be cognizant of the present, to examine one’s surrounding, to discover the moment’s magic and to wait. “It sometimes happens that a child returns with a camera within five minutes saying they’re done. What we do is we give the camera back to them, telling them that they have plenty of time but that they can only take a single photo. Just one. The little photographer then thinks harder about what to photograph. Then we ask what they photographed and why, and through that we can already estimate what will be the photograph’s atmosphere and message. We then discuss this with the child,” says a lecturer about the process of photography that takes place during the course.

The child doesn’t learn how to correctly set up the time or aperture during the three hour course, that takes more opportunities to gain experience, but they do learn how to slow down and think during the creative process. How to come closer, how to broach a conversation with an interesting stranger we would like to photograph, how to think about composition, light and shadows. With analogue photography, each press of the shutter results in a single photograph and the children are aware of the difference between this and photographing digitally, where they can pick the best photo out of twenty similar ones and discard the rest through pressing a button. Often the children rewind the film incorrectly or expose it to light which teaches them that in analogue photography success is never guaranteed.

Children are overwhelmed by mostly perfect photographs from the internet – for example from Instagram, if they’re allowed to use it. In Little photographers course children are encouraged to find uniqueness and beauty in imperfection.

In the second half of the course the children get to try working in a dark chamber and exposing photograms. Through this they learn that the process of photography is nowhere near finished when they press the shutter.

Lecturer Tereza is currently working on a book that will guide children through analogue photography with more detail.