Young children in traditional costume on a stage
Culture & tradition,  Lens-Artists,  Street photography

Photographing the children of the world

Well, if not of the whole world, certainly some of it!

John Updike

Observing or meeting children when we travel I realise that, even more than adults, they have far more in common with each other, regardless of where they live, than they do any differences. They enjoy play, they seek friendship, they need acceptance and respect. And of course they all need the basics of food, drink, shelter, education. Sadly not all of them get those basics and I’m conscious that when travelling we are largely shielded from those who suffer significant want. But in sharing impressions of the children I do meet, I hope to show those commonalities. And of course I also hope to show some appealing and interesting images!

Many of these were shot with permission, a few I confess were not. But should we photograph children when we travel? Many will say not, and certainly if it’s done to emphasise difference, such as poverty, or without respect, it’s definitely not something I am comfortable with. But if you have either explicit or implicit permission, if the communities you are visiting have specifically welcomed you because they want you to see how they live and have a respectful exchange of cultures, then I believe there is little harm in capturing those moments.


In Nikko, we saw children dressed in traditional costumes, visiting the shrines to mark a Children’s Festival.


In Bukhara a group of laughing children followed us one evening as we walked back to the guesthouse where we were staying. At one point they stopped and insisted on posing for this photo.

Group of children posing in a street
Children in Bukhara, Uzbekistan


We found that people in India, both adults and children, are generally very keen that you take their photo, and also to pose for photos with you. In Khimsar, for instance, this shopkeeper called to us to take his photo with his son (he gave me his email address and I later sent him the photo).


The small girl below, in Cambodia, posed for me when we visited her grandparents’ house for lunch, while I had permission from the woman looking after the Pak Ou Caves to photograph her daughter. The young boy in Phoe Taen Akha was on his way out of school when he spotted us with our guide and posed briefly with this cheeky smile.

North Korea

In Chongjin in the north of the country we visited a kindergarten for children gifted in the performing arts. They staged a show for us, displaying impressive talents for such young kids (mostly four or five). Naturally we were encouraged to take photos, as the regime is keen to show the world how well they support their youth. These are, of course, children of higher status families; we wouldn’t have been introduced to any at the other end of the spectrum, let alone allowed to photograph them.


As we arrived in Albreda by boat we were welcomed by a group of children singing and drumming. Later we were taken to see the village school where, although it was a Sunday, some children were inside doing colouring and happy to chat to their visitors. We were given permission to take photos and in return of course made a donation to school funds. This village was once one of the embarkation points for slaves being transported to the Caribbean and Southern states plantations. It has a small but harrowing museum as well as a monument with the simple inscription, ‘Never again’.

Cape Verde

On the island of Santiago we came across a children’s carnival parade in a small village. The following day we watched the main parade in the island’s capital, Praia, with more children taking part.

And there’s more …

The photos below were taken in various countries. With the exception of the one on the floating islands of Lake Titicaca in Peru, they are candid shots. Some may argue I shouldn’t have taken and/or shared them. However I’m comfortable with my decision to do so as, firstly, most of the subjects were aware of my camera and participated willingly, and, secondly, all of them show the children in a positive light, not celebrating poverty or hardship.

My intention is always to show the shared essence of childhood, wherever in the world you may happen to be born. I hope these images capture genuine moments of joy, curiosity, and innocence. And as many of the children both below and above are in groups, I’m linking to Terri’s Sunday Stills theme for this week too.


Do share your thoughts, I'd love to hear from you! And please include your name in case WP marks you 'anonymous' - thank you