My muse: Alina, with the Nikon V1 By Ivan Lietaert

My muse: Alina, with the Nikon V1

By Ivan Lietaert

Hi Steve and Brandon. I would like to present to you and your readers my muse: Alina. She’s my youngest kid, 4 years old, and she’s not (camera) shy at all. (Put a plastic toy microphone in her hands, and she’ll start singing instantly!) The pictures below were all taken in the past couple of weeks, and were taken with my Nikon V1 and the Nikon 1 18.5mm f1.8. I shoot jpeg, not raw, and the pictures were treated with Lightroom and Nik Software plugins, esp. Silver Efex Pro 2. I use natural light only. No flash.

I wrote about the V1 for your website about a year ago. Then, I wrote about the surprising video capabilities of this camera. 

The V1 has become my favourite ‘family trip’ camera for still images because of its fast focus and compact form. I don’t have the budget, honestly, for fancier gear, so I make the best of what I’ve got.

I live in Belgium, a country that has quite strict privacy laws, especially towards the under age. For photographers, it basically implies you need a release form when post portraits online, unless you are the parent (or legal guardian), which I am, of course. Aside from the legal aspect of publishing my children’s pictures online, I do have other reservations as well. I have friends who would never publish pictures of their (young) children online for safety reasons. In the late nineties, Marc Dutroux, a serial child molester and murderer, shocked the country, and now parents of young children are particularly sensitive about the issue.

To be honest, there is a bit of a guilty feeling, mixed with suspician, each time one of my kid pictures is liked or favourited on Flickr… which is sad, not? But there is yet another angle to this. A while back, I was asked by one my best friends to remove pictures from my flickr account. The reason: the kids have now reached puberty, and they are afraid to be bullied for these pictures, which their fellow class members are googling for.

Professionally, I’m a teacher at a secondary school (ages 12 up to 18), and I am the unofficial ‘official’ photographer for many school events. I always take care only to publish pictures in which the kids look good/cool and not goofy or whatever, just for that reason. (When children enroll to our school, they automatically must sign a release form too). Here is a link to an article I wrote for Steve about such a school event.  This is the reality of the world we live in, and I am writing this post because I’m curious about what you, Steve and Brandon, and your readers think about all this.

This is my Flickr account: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ivanlietaert/

Kind regards,
Ivan Lietaert

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32 Comments

  1. Hi Ivan,

    Have you tried the 32mm lens on the Nikon 1 system? It is fabulous lens for portraits. I live in Brussels, if your around the city and would like to try the 32mm lens your more than welcome.

    Where was the forest with all the mushrooms? I went to forest close to me last Sunday, not as big a range of mushrooms.

    Myles

  2. hi there,
    nice pics with v1 at the 18mm. a very capable combi. i’m too really reluctant to post pictures of my young daughter on the internet because of the reasons already discussed. for some days i stumbled upon a video of a photographer who took pictures of his young daughter, some naked, and put it on instagram. his account was immediately closed and he was acused because of child abuse. the video tells the story. it is really intense. that such things happend says something about our society.
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=JdkLvzgfVNQ

  3. Wow Ivan. I have a 4 year old daughter too & live in Hong Kong where there have not been much child abuse going on, so I have never had this issue in mind, so I feel for you. Very nice job. I wanted to ask is there a certain program or filter you used to get photo #5 where it looks so much like a genuine old photo? Thx.
    Don

  4. Hi Ivan,

    really nice images you captured and precious memories as well. The V1 is a great camera and it can do almost anything you ask of it.

    Living in Germany i am well aware of the problems the society has with people taking pictures of kids, or any person, even in public places. I remember the story of Marc Dutroux very well. It was shocking and it had a deep impact on people in whole europe. Photography lost its innocence in a way, because the photographer was not the same person to many parents after what happend then. I agree that this is sad.

    Here in Germany they say it was Emporer Karl Friedrich II (who was annoyed by paparazzi) who was responsible for the laws we have here (and we had them early). In Germany it is forbidden by law to take pictures of people even in public places (there are some minor exceptions but in general this is true) unless you asked for permission. That means everybody not only kids and it means the act of taking the picture (no matter what you do with it later). Streetphotography as a form of art is really close to extinction because of that. Really sad.

    Anyhow, thanks for sharing your pics and i liked reading your words because they are all so true.

    Greetings, Elderin

  5. I live and shoot in Japan, and have no qualms about street shooting in general, of kids or anyone else. It is all quite legal, and almost no one ever seems to mind. But when I come to Canada in the summer, I find myself being more circumspect, because the cultural norms are different. Kids still appear in some of my shots, but I am much more ambivalent about shoot here.

  6. Of course all pictures are by default gorgeous, but I especially liked the colored one in the woods (as your daughter looks to almost stand out of the picture) and last one as it is such a candid natural happy moment.

    I think it is very sad how we are now all the time looking everywhere for dangers. As always all the fear and legislation is making it miserable for the normal people with good intentions, while the bad ones jus keep being bad – and they will always find the opportunity.
    Today in many fields we are trying to replace common decency, moral and professional attitude with laws, restrictions and bureaucracy… this is damaging both freedom and creative spirit. It is almost forcing you to detach from the society and ignore all – and this happens with many individuals, hampered with those restrictions.

    Clearly I am aware that society is getting more and more complicated to govern due to availability of resources, interaction and opportunities…
    There is no easy solution, but for one, no formality can stand in for professional attitude, no law can fill the shoes of good versus bad, no bureaucracy can replace art.

    On the firm side, I am totally against us abandoning capital punishment, some people are just not human and should be removed from society in a most efficient, quick and cheap way. Argument that some innocent people may suffer doe snot stand as clearly it should be used when there is no shred of doubt.
    It must be there as deterrent, as most such bad people are cowards.
    I am sorry if this is too much of a digression…

    Great shots, thanks for sharing.

  7. Pedophilia and crime aside, the most basic reason not to post pics of young children to an anonymous public is that they’re too young to consciously consent. Your child’s personality rights are your child’s personality rights, not yours. Publishing someone else’s portrait to an anonymous public without their consent is a violation of their privacy, even if they’re too young to know – because they’re too young to know.
    My dad took many beautiful pics of me with his old Contax when I was Alina’s age. As much as I love them, I would absolutely hate it – and him – had he published them to be out there for anyone to watch and comment and download and copy and keep. Not for fear of the Dutroux’s – and Edathys out there, but because they’re intimate. Like the images of Alina above, they portray my father’s love for me and my trust in him. When you say Alina’s not camera-shy it’s because you are behind the camera and because she’s unaware of all the other people you’re going to involve.

    • I appreciate your writing and it certainly made me reconsider my writings and my act of publishing my daughter’s pictures here. Yet, I strongly believe that as for parenting and shielding off minors from the outside world, there is a whole spectrum, rather than yes or no. There are few people who publish nothing online, there are few people who would publish anything online, and then there is a very large middle group. These varying degrees of protectiveness are very subjective and personal, and privacy laws in most countries will let parents or legal guardians decide.
      The thing is, there is no precedent. Only with the recent technology available, it has become possible to post images to an anonymous public. The long term effect of this must still establish itself. I have noticed that a small group of youngsters (and parents) are very sensitive about this, and take great care to control what is put online concerning them.
      While abuse of images online can be devastating for the victim, the same technology can lead to amazing, wonderful things as well and bring people together. As a matter of fact, I think Steve Huff’s photography blog is a nice example of exactly that!

    • … to put this into a cultural context, I should add that I live in Germany. Both privacy and childrens’ rights are sacred here. Even the most prolific parenting blogs go without a single face-shot of the kids they’re all about.

      • You’re right, my standpoint is highly subjective, and it should be. What could be more personal than a photo taken by a family member in relaxed private context?

        On that personal level, I’m not so much concerned about sex-offenders or abuse or national privacy laws – that should enter the discussion at a much later stage. Neither do I think to-publish-or-not is primarily a question of parental shielding or protecting the child from harm.
        What it should be about in the very first place is the child’s will.

        Obviously a pre-schooler has no informed will about publishing personal photographs online, because the implications and possible consequences are just beyond them.
        But, the fact that their will can’t be determined does not authorize the photographer to ignore it or override it or take their consent for granted.

        A child is a person, not an object or an animal. Informed consent is needed. Where it can’t be given – because the child is too young – you’re not authorized to publish their pictures, simple as that. Publishing them anyways means objectifying the child.

        Personally, I’d get very angry if anyone other than myself posted pictures of me, child or adult, unless I explicitly agreed. Not for fear of abuse. I just think random people on the internet have no business looking at and commenting on what dress I wore, what I had for lunch or who I was with, period.
        Now, Alina may be perfectly cool with you posting her pics once she’s old enough to judge. Or she may not. You don’t know that. But her pictures are out there already and will be forever. You can’t take them back.

        What I think would be the right thing to do with those beautiful pictures: Keep them in the family, hand them over to her in 15 years or so, so she can post them on her own webspace – or not. She’s on them: they’re hers.

        I hope I don’t sound offensive – I don’t intend to. This is an interesting discussion, I very much appreciate you brought this up.

      • Elenor, no offence taken. In fact, I find your post very articulate and it goes to the core of the issue.
        The thing is that if one follows your path of reasoning, then the result is a society with no images (nor movies) with children in it (no child models or child actors) as they can’t give informed consent. No ads with children, no movies with child actors, etc. There is a lot of exploitation here, so in a way, this would be a good thing. Yet, it would be a great loss too: so much great art and entertainment feature children. Sally Mann, the renowned American photographer, pushed this issue very far when she exhibited her very intimate family photos all the way back in the 1990s. (here: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sally_Mann#Immediate_Family_and_controversy ). In interviews she explained that her children always were very aware of what was going on and gave their consent, even at a very young age. So she went forward and published the book. Her children are now adults and they still stand behind these pictures.

  8. Great photos of your daughter! I try to make photos of my kids in a similar style.. hard because they make a game of getting out of the way as soon as I rise a camera.
    What you say about Marc Dutroux indeed is true. Things have changed, also here in Holland. Not only because of Dutroux but also because of all the child abuse that has been published about in the past years.
    Although I didn’t have other kids as a subject in the past, these days I indeed avoid to make photo’s of children other than mine and their friends.
    I also recognize what you say about puberty and photos on the internet.
    Apart from the fact that I’m a quite mediocre scannerless almost fully analogue photographer who doesn’t have any photo on the net, I am also a bit afraid of putting photo’s of my kids on the internet. For the same reason as your friends.

  9. I like the images especially number 5. But I find that combo V1+ 18.5 limiting for two reasons:
    – the prime bokeh is really nervous. I own the lens and barely use it because I don’t like the bokeh quality. (not quantity)
    – the 10MP sensor isn’t noisy but it tends to have a lot of luminance noise even at moderate ISO. Your image number 6 where you pushed shadows a little bit, shows obvious grain, and I’m sure it’s not a high ISO.

    I do keep the J1 with that lens, but prefer what I get with Olympus epl-5 and Panasonic 20 f1.7

    • IMO, the 18.5 lens is amazing on the V1. In the shots above, I didn’t do raw but jpegs. I like the jpegs a lot and I can do a lot with them in post, but if I push them too hard, the limitations of the small 1 inch sensor show up. With the V1, I only shoot raw in low light situations.
      The most annoying weakness of the V1 sensor is the purple fringing that occurs when shooting strong contrast scenes. Lightroom can deal with that easily, but not all consumers use Lightroom….

  10. Wonderful shots from your V1, your daughter is very photogenic!. I am aware of how a few nasty creatures on our planet has ruined our pleasure in many area’s of photography. – My V1 is a great small camera to carry out walking. My daughter is now nearly 16 and is fed up of me snapping away.

  11. Nice shots indeed.
    Like one of the posters said above the privacy laws here in Canada are not very strict but last week on my local paper I was reading an article concerning a photographer that took his kids to a little waterpark in town and while the kids were playing he was taking photos of the place and the people around. After a good 20 minutes Police showed up at the waterpark and started questioning him. He had to answer a lot of questions and show the photos he had taken up to that point. Even though he had his kids there and he’s a professional photographer this guy was humiliated and embarrassed in front of a bunch of people so that tells you that nowadays you really have to be careful strict or no strict.

  12. Update: This happened to be in the news today. A man having a drink outside, in Bruges, Belgium’s best know tourist town, is filming a police intervention. He is asked to stop filming by the Belgian police. He says no, because he is in a public place and he has the right to film the police. The filmer/photographer now risk a penalty up to 100,000 euro.

    Link: http://deredactie.be/cm/vrtnieuws.english/videozone_ENG/eng.140826_police_filming

    The argument here is that policemen have a right to privacy too, and that the photographer/filmer shouldn’t have put the footage online against their will. Only journalists have the right to do this, if publishing it is relevant, eg. when the police are misbehaving. In Belgium, there is a very thin line between freedom of speaking and privacy…

  13. I think your images are wonderful, and the gear is not the issue in most photographers hands, but the hands that hold it. It is a sad course of events, when the thought of sharing joyous moments in photography we have to contemplate the intention of the viewers. I personally like to think that society isn’t as bad as the media circus makes it out to believe, but that there are inherently bad people out there. We have I chose to live in fear or live in happiness. I also think happiness can be achieved with good practices to assure we keep all children safe by making crimes against children the most severly punishable instead of taking freedoms from the civil members of society.

  14. Fantastic shots Ivan! I know what you mean about the ‘current climate’ and photographing children. Here in Canada the privacy laws aren’t so strict yet still myself (and many photographers) tend not to photograph children for this reason.. often passing up such great photo opportunities.. I’m also reluctant to ‘fav’ photos of children of Flick… despite the fact that it may be a wonderful photo.. for fear of being thought ‘creepy’ – what a sad commentary on the world we live in today. But that’s another story!

    As for your photos – again – great job! Love your work with the little powerhouse V1!!

  15. The pictures are great! The story worries me a bit… Can criminals ruin it for every one? Did we allow this to happen? Do we have a choice?

  16. Nice variety, very attractive shots.

    It shines through that your daughter is well loved, secure, and blossoming with love of life!

  17. Hi,

    Really cute photos.

    I have the same gear for the same purpose…:)
    I shoot my daugther and share with my family on my personal photo gallery..

    I like the small size of the picture.. Need few compression.

    Jim

  18. Great photo’s. I also have the Nikon V1 and many other more expensive cameras/lenses but the V1 still does the business for me. I love the files from it.

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