In today’s atmosphere where every photographer is a suspicious character, especially if they want to photograph children – the easiest way to get yourself into trouble is photographing kids in a park playing. Your motives maybe pure, but parks have signs posted about no adults allowed unless they are guardians or related to a kid; and so even though you are following in a street photography tradition that goes back to Helen Levitt and other famous photographers who did street candids of children playing, you are likely to be misunderstood.
So a collorary of the tip: Bring a Friend Along, is bring a kid along. In this case, I would often visit a nearby park with my eight year old niece and have her stand in front of the scene I wished to photograph. If you are a woman photographer – this is even easier since you are less likely to be regarded with suspicion. My niece had a short attention span, normal in a kid, and I could get her to pose or pretend to pose for me only once or twice before it was time to push her on the swings. But that was how this shot was taken. The park was filled with mothers and upper-east side guardians, and even with my pretense of photographing my niece, they all had an eye on me so I had to work fast. I wouldn’t waste my opportunity and had shots pre-designed before moving my niece into the path and taking my shots. Here are a few from these outings.