Photography by a 4-Year-Old: Is It Art?

My Canon PowerShot is pretty dinged up, so when my 4-year-old nephew asked if he could take a picture with it, I said sure, although I suppose I wouldn’t have been happy if he’d broken it. I didn’t have to worry at all. He was careful and wound up taking quite a few pictures. I think he liked the fake click noise the camera makes when you push the button.

When I looked at the pictures he’d taken, I was pleasantly surprised by the results. A few were odd shots of people, but most were of the environment around him. Some of them made me laugh. And some of them made me go, “Hmmmm. That looks like art!”

I’ve decided to let the public decide. Here is a selection of my nephew’s photos. I’ve left out the ones that were way out of focus or people’s faces. The only processing I’ve done is to downsize them for easy computer viewing. Otherwise they are untouched — no cropping, no lighting fixes, no color tweaks — just the world as my camera sees it while in my nephew’s hands. I think you’ll agree that it’s an intimate view.

Foot with leg.
Leg with foot.
Water dish.
Sun and shadow on boards.
Sun and shadows.
Sneaker on deck.
Sneaker on deck.
Self-portrait #1.
Portrait of an aunt.
Portrait of an aunt.
Armpit with a view.
Self-portrait #2.
Clay and wood.
Mug on table.

Purists will argue that my nephew isn’t creating art because he doesn’t have any control over what he’s doing. I’m going to argue for “art is in the eye of the beholder.” When I look at these, I see art. They show me a familiar world in a new way, and they get me thinking new thoughts. And isn’t that what art’s all about?

What do you think? Can 4-year-olds make art?


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Kit Dunsmore

Kit Dunsmore has believed in the magic underlying the muggle world since she was a child searching for the Shetland pony pooka she was sure was hiding in her back yard. She learned early on that books were magic doors into other worlds, and that she could revisit a beloved character or place by opening the right book. As she grew, she decided she wanted to make magic with words, too. Today Kit writes about things she loves: poodles and dragons, witches and artists, quirky underdogs and loyal friends. Whether her setting is 6th-century England, the imaginary Twelve Kingdoms, or an art-obsessed version of modern America, magic always finds its way into her story. She enjoys turning fairy tales inside out and watching characters sacrifice everything to reach their goal, but she also believes in happy endings. When she isn't writing, Kit experiences magic by making things with her hands. Over the years, she's made quilts, fabric sculptures, collages, sweaters, and blank books. Her newest interest is learning how to spin her own yarn, a skill guaranteed to strengthen one of her many delusions: that she is a self-sufficient pioneer woman. She also thinks she is a hobbit, a witch, an artist, and a good cook. Living in the foothills of Colorado, Kit enjoys the giant skies and prairie landscapes which suit her need for wide open spaces. In addition to hiking through glorious scenery with her husband or imagining herself living in the Middle Ages, Kit works as a pillow for her miniature poodle and polishes the next small piece of her handmade life.

5 thoughts on “Photography by a 4-Year-Old: Is It Art?”

  1. Yes! Of course they can! Young children sometimes are the better artists because they are less inhibited and everything is new and exciting to them. I did a series of pop-up book making workshops with preschoolers, elementary students and teens, and the preschoolers were the most likely to expeiment with color and shape. I loved hearing the stories they told about the pictures they drew.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. All children create art, some are better than others but that is the same as adults. I’ve seen some artwork that was disgusting and yet they won an award! Like you said, art is in the eye of the beholder.

    By the way, I am an artist, too.

    Liked by 1 person

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