putting your cutest feet forward

Even the most straightforward photos of kids are invariably gorgeous. Everything we know is miniaturised and injected with a whole lot of innocence, and it's a combination that is sure to melt hearts and elicit a lot of 'oohs' and 'aahs'. I recently spent a couple of hours with three precious kids that I am lucky enough to be very close to, and I took a couple of rolls of film of their irresistible faces. But I found myself completely (and surprisingly) drawn to their feet.

It got me thinking about photos of feet. Feet don't have a face with which to express emotion. And while feet and legs are relatively flexible, there is a limit on the number of ways you can make feet look different. I mean, feet are feet. Some are less attractive than others, but really, they all look pretty similar. So why do they make interesting photos? Well in the case of the top photo, the interest is definitely in what you can't see: where is she that enables her legs to dangle like that? The fence in the background is subtle but adds a nice element of the ordinary, and perhaps of backyards, which leads to the idea of playing. The different placement of the legs also suggests that the owner of said legs is climbing. So it says a lot about what's happening without showing much at all. I adore that photo. The one immediately above this paragraph holds the answer to the initial riddle: the kids are on a swingset. This one isn't as effective as the top one, but I still love it because there are so many things in it that are universal signs of childhood: bare feet, classic swingset, climbing as play, backyard/fence, and perhaps getting up to mischief by climbing above the swing instead of swinging on it.

Feet are absolutely the star of this shot. For starters, the only part of Holly that is in sharp focus is her feet. Her gloriously dirty feet! Secondly, Holly is looking up at the owner of the feet on the slide - but we can't see who it is, so we wonder what the interaction is between the two kids. All we have as a clue is the first child's feet and the direction of Holly's glance (and the expression on her face!).

So adorable. While it looks out of focus (and largely is), the sharp focus exists on that very small part of her body - yes, her feet. Probably appealing because it's just a little different to usual photos of kids on swings, both in the focus and the angle. And the fact that we don't see a face - the character is discerned from her sitting position (very childlike and unladylike - very like Holly), her clothes, and her gorgeous little half-painted-toenailed feet.

This black and white image is such a spot-on portrait of Holly. Unbelievable. She is defiant and stubborn - and the position of her feet leads me to imagine that she was standing just so, with hands on hips, ready to argue with anyone game enough. She is a total dag, and almost tomboyish, which is in complete opposition to her wonderfully girly sister Jas, and you get that in this image, too: she is evidently OK with dirty feet, wearing only one thong, and wearing that thong on the wrong foot. What an amazingly cute kid.

And here they are again, making another grubby appearance. This is great because you can tell she is on a swing as her legs are dangling, so it adds a kind of movement to the image. And again, it has so many elements of childhood - the bare feet, the willingness to get them as dirty as possible, the joy of feeling dirt between your toes and not caring at all, the grass, the toy in the background. The narrow depth of field enhances the photo too, and for me lifts it above your standard snapshot.  I also love this because it goes some way towards explaining why her feet are so grubby in the other photos!

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