There is discussion on the use of child models and the authenticity conveyed by the consequent photographs used. I have no stand on this. Particularly as I was once one of those ‘stand-ins”. When I was under ten. At at time when people were less squeamish.
Exhibit number one, possibly the one that will shock some people: My father, at the time an investigate journalist, and his prize winning photographer colleague needed a photo to go with an article on how television frightens children. My father asked me to join them at the table – as if for a friendly chat. Out of nowhere he blew cigarette smoke into my face. Naturally, such was my surprise, I did all the photo needed: Eyes wide open with shock, my little hands raised to my mouth in horror. Perfect. And no, we didn’t have a TV.
Another one (remember this is under cover photography): Children in traffic. I was told to weave in and out of traffic jams. A story about children and traffic. Terrified me. Not least because my parents had actually taught me to always look left and right before crossing a road. Still. Needs must.
What else? Yes, there was one on children abused by pedophiles. So my father took his eight year old daughter by her hand. I was asked to call him ‘uncle’. As we crossed many a road in the city he asked several police men and pedestrians for directions. To test whether they’d questions him over his legitimacy to me. Not that I told him, but that was probably not his finest hour of reportage: Of course no one questioned him. For heaven’s sake we look far too similar. Like father and daughter. As young as I was I knew that no one think me in danger. A few years later the milkman mistook my father as my older brother. I rest my case.
There are other examples. One which I still blush and squirm at. I have never been particularly shy. But one assignment – out there in the public – did test my mettle. Still, they got the photos they wanted. No, nothing sexual. Charity. Red Cross.
What were we talking about: Authenticity. I’d rather be told that the child in an advert is a model than the real thing. Not that that makes the “real thing” any better.