Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Foundation photograph wins on sikkim boy

Foundation photograph wins award

An image commissioned by the Bernard van Leer Foundation has won the European Foundation Centre’s photo competition. The photo of the young boy from Sikkim, India, was used on the front cover of Early Childhood Matters last November.

74 entries were sent in by foundations, and 13 were shortlisted - including three from the Bernard van Leer Foundation.

Peter Laugharn, the foundation's executive director, commented: "The Bernard van Leer Foundation always tries to use images that gave issues a human face, that show optimism in the face of difficulty, and that show potential and capacity."

Jan van Dongen, head of publications, added: "While most photo agencies have numerous images that depict children in disadvantaged circumstances, they usually portray children as victims, often in dismal surroundings, and without any apparent hope or prospect.

"We believe this has a numbing effect, and enhances the flawed image that most people have of developing countries and of poverty in general.

"In recent years we have built up a network of professional photographers around the world to conduct photoshoots for us in collaboration with our partners in the field, who in turn benefit from access to the resulting photos for their own use, free of charge.

"The photographers receive guidelines and instructions from us for each shoot, and these guidelines stipulate the need for the images to convey, among other things, a sense of hope and happiness.

"We are interested in seeing children depicted in the community and environment in which they are growing up. We want images that illustrate their everyday lives and experiences, and how they interact with each other and with peers, siblings, parents and teachers.

"We also occasionally acquire images from selected photo agencies, particularly those with a focus on developmental and environmental issues. And we have used photos supplied by project partners themselves - but while some of these are very good, in our experience commissioning professional photographers is well worth the investment.

"In order to make all of this financially possible, we have set aside a modest annual budget that allows us to gradually build up and replace our collection of images over the years or to use images from the photographers' own stock of photos.

"As our collection of images grows, we are increasingly able to illustrate our publications with appropriate and topic-related images from a variety of locations. This is not only for cosmetic purposes, but to reinforce our message that children have a right to a future that is worth looking forward to."

The image was taken by Peter de Ruiter. Its full caption is as follows: "Getting ready for school. A father helps his 8-year-old son to get ready for school, in Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, an Indian province in the Himalaya region."

5 June 2007
© 2007 Bernard van Leer Foundation