Insight by child development expert and family psychologist Dr Amanda Gummer.
Printed photographs can trigger priceless memories and contribute to one’s sense of identity and help to strengthen a family bond. A young person without a strong sense of belonging is likely to be more susceptible to peer pressure and miss out on reliving cherished memories. Ensuring your home has a variety of family photographs clearly on display nurtures happy memories, helps children feel part of the family and deal with more challenging life periods.
These are the views of Dr Amanda Gummer, who has over 20 years’ experience working with children and families and is a regular commentator in the media on issues relating to parenting and child development.
In a recent collaboration with Canon, Dr Amanda Gummer explored the psychological and physical effect photography and photographs has on family bonds and how they initiate the recollection of key life moments.
“In today’s digital age where people are capturing more images than ever before, it’s important that families reflect on memorable photographs outside the realms of social media. The emotional value of a printed photograph far exceeds that of a digital download and helps bring families closer together and share their life experiences, “she comments.
Given the importance of having physical photography in the home, Dr Gummer gives her tips on how to maximize family imagery to benefit the whole family.
- Display family photographs in easy to see places
Family photographs should be located in places where people see them on a daily basis without having to turn on a device, scroll through a gallery or switch on a computer.
For children in particular, photographs provide comfort and reassurance that family members are valued and important to each other (Chris Cummins, photographic artist, 2015). Placing printed photographs on a child’s bedroom bookshelf means they can see the pictures every morning when they wake or every evening before they go to sleep. Making this imagery form part of the child’s daily routine, acts as a reminder that they are loved.
- Encourage children to identify themselves in a picture
According to research, we have more brain cells dedicated to vision than all other senses combined, which makes photography an extremely powerful medium (Dr David Walsh, 2015). When your child views a photograph, encourage them to pick themselves out to someone who’s not present in the photograph. This form of memory stimulus helps build their sense of identity, helping children recognise their own value and increasing self-esteem as they get older.
- Capture photographs of every day moments, not just special milestones
Photographs of memorable life events and fun days out play a key role in shaping a child’s development and memory bank (Chris Cummins, photographic artist, 2015). Physical photographs encourage family members to reflect on cherished moments together and fondly recall past emotions. Whilst images of key milestones like weddings and birthdays are important, you should also display photographs that capture everyday moments, such as a family picnic, to reinforce a child’s sense of security in their surroundings.
- Use photography to fuel your child’s imagination
A key part of pre-school experience and learning is being able to relate pictures and photographs to real places and objects (Authors Hohmann & Weikart, 1995). Printed photographs enable children to do this, as they can touch them and express how they relate to real life. For example, a photograph taken in the park may spark fond memories of learning to ride a bike or playing on the swings with siblings. Once a month, set aside time to go through physical photographs together and encourage your child to take the lead in telling the story behind the picture.
- Create a life story book to celebrate the past
A life story book can be compiled using a scrapbook or photograph album, and should include a mixture of physical photographs and information documenting a family history or important life stages. As Cathy Glass, a foster carer and author states, children’s memories can sometimes become confused or lost and this can negatively impact their sense of identity or self-worth. Creating a life story book from a pile of printed photographs, is an excellent way of helping fill in the gaps for children and make sense of their past.
Dr Gummer outlines (below) the top ten photographs every family should display and explains the psychology behind where they should be displayed in the home and office.
- A candid photograph: Natural photos reflect a person’s personality, whether it’s an energetic toddler running around or capturing someone by surprise, helping children value the diverse and unique people around them.
- A baby photograph: Children love seeing themselves as a baby in photographs, this helps them to develop a sense of identity.
- The family unit photograph: a family picture reminds a child that they are loved and have a central place within the unit.
- A club/ team photograph: a team sports or classmate photograph helps a child feel part of their friendship group and increases their confidence levels.
- An everyday photograph: activities such as playing after school, walking the dogs or helping mum gardening are important to reinforce a child’s routine and re-affirm lasting
- A special day out photograph: Visits to a theme park, farm or seaside give children experiences they can talk about and share with other family members.
- Pet photographs: All family members can build special bonds with pets – they are a very important part of the family, so should also feature in a frame.
- A photograph with mum: Mum’s are often the ones behind the camera; try to capture a candid photo instead of a selfie to reinforce the strength of this relationship.
- A photograph with dad: Following child birth, often photographs will feature the mother and her It’s also very important for the Dad’s to be photographed with his baby son or daughter to show equal status and importance
- An extended family photograph: Don’t forget about grandparents, aunts, uncles,
cousins (especially those who aren’t seen very often) – they are all an important part of a child’s upbringing and identity.
The top five locations for displaying photographs in the home
- Kitchen: Photographs of holidays and memorable family meals. Being in the kitchen and cooking food will trigger off happy memories of past holidays and special family occasions such as dad’s 50th birthday dinner.
- Living room: Variety of different photographs that summarise family life. A gallery wall of friends, who matter to the family and are important figures in the life of the children.
- Hallway: Create a special wall for photos that is regularly updated. Taking photos on a camera, printing them off and changing them monthly will keep the hallway looking
- Study: When working from home, family photos are an important distraction away from the pressures of work. Select photographs that ease the stresses of work such as a family holiday or relaxing imagery.
- Child’s bedroom: A child’s bedroom should be both colourful and creative. Allow your child to choose their favourite photos and assemble them creatively on a board or bookshelf. The most important factor is that the child has control of the photos that resonates to them.
Print photos for your home at home
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This versatile and compact inkjet printer offers connectivity to the PIXMA Cloud Link via the Canon PRINT app (iOS/Android). Amazon Alexa-enabled devices can connect to the PIXMA TS8250 Series, enabling colouring sheets, puzzles and templates to be printed through voice command.
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Founder of Fundamentally Children, Amanda Gummer has over 20 years’ experience working with children and families. Widely considered as the go to expert on play, toys and child development, Dr Gummer combines her theoretical knowledge with a refreshingly pragmatic approach to family life, that resonates both with parents and professionals.
Amanda is regularly in the media and is often involved in government policy around children’s issues – currently as a member of two All Party Parliamentary Groups. Amanda ran the research consultancy FUNdamentals for 10 years before creating Fundamentally Children, the UK’s leading source of expert advice on child development and play, supporting children’s industries with research, insight and endorsement. For more information: http://www.fundamentallychildren.com/
Ammerman, M. S., & Fryrear, J. L. (1975). Photographic enhancement of children’s self‐esteem. Psychology in the Schools, 12(3), 319-325.
Cummins, C. (2015). How family portraits boost your child’s self-esteem [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://designaglow.com/blogs/design-aglow/17493452-how-family-portraits-boost-your-child-s-self-esteem
Department for Education. (2013). Statutory guidance on adoption: for local authorities, voluntary adoption agencies and adoption support agencies. London, UK. Retrieved from.
Glass, K. Life story book [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.thefosteringnetwork.org.uk/blogs/cathy-glass/life-story-book
Hohmann, M., Weikart, D. P., & Epstein, A. S. (1995). Educating young children: Active learning practices for preschool and child care programs. Ypsilanti, MI: High/Scope Press.
Leigh, J. (2017, October 9). Boost family happiness and self-esteem through family portraits [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.photographybyjessicaleigh.com/blog/2017/10/6/boost-family-happiness-and-self-esteem-through-family-portraits
Llewellyn Smith, J. (2017, November 5). Are we breeding a ‘lost generation’ who won’t have photo albums to capture their lives? [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/life/breeding-lost-generation-wont-have-photo-albums-capture-lives/
Stutey, D. M., Helm, H. M., LoSasso, H., & Kreider, H. D. (2016). Play therapy and photo-elicitation: A narrative examination of children’s grief. International Journal of Play Therapy, 25(3), 154.
Walsh, D, Ph.D. (2015, March). How family portraits boost your child’s self-esteem [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://lifetouch.com/photography-builds-self-esteem/