I’m a parent. I love my kids to the moon and back and then some. As my oldest kid is getting older, I’m finding she’s more and more interested in hanging out with her friends and working on projects with them, and sometimes family things like photo sessions seem like way more of an annoyance than they used to be. It’s fine. That’s the way of things! But as my kid heads into those preteen years, I’m constantly brainstorming about what we can do to kindle genuine connection with our older kids.
I’ve seen photographers using all sorts of things to try to kindle excitement in photos (heck, I’ve been known to use the occasional smoke bomb myself), but after news stories about forest fires set off by smoke grenades, after countless posts in photography groups about finding party decorations left out in the woods by people at a cake smash, and after spending over two hours one day picking up someone’s discarded plastic “over the hill” confetti off the ground at one of my favorite hiking spots, it’s become really important to me to seek out environmentally responsible ways to create that visual interest.
I found the solution to so many problems in Holi powder. Holi is a Hindu spring festival, often called the festival of colors. Per CRY San Diego’s website, “It’s a fun and festive way to meet others, play and laugh, forget and forgive, and repair broken relationships.” CRY puts on a community Holi festival every year, and invites the whole city!! You can find more info here. As part of this festival of colors, participants throw colorful powder all over each other. I saw a few packs of that powder for sale at a local market, saw that they were just colorful cornstarch, and picked some up for testing purposes.
Addressing Cultural Appropriation
I’m someone who’s sensitive to issues of cultural appropriation. I fully admit I didn’t invent Holi powder or its use. I’m far from the first photographer to use it, for that matter. In no way do I want to use the language of Holi or detract from the festival at all. Rather, I’d like to point out that Holi celebrations have led to the creation of the PERFECT solution for visually stunning color without leaving a spray of plastic detritus or little tiny garbage everywhere, and without putting our forests in danger. It’s bright as heck, and when you’re all done throwing it around, it’s gone with the next rain.
A Photo Shoot Inspires A Playful Environment For The Whole Family
And the results? Did I get what I wanted? That opportunity to create a playful environment for big kids (no matter what age) to come out of their shells and reconnect with their family? That opportunity for an activity to distract us from our picture faces so that our true selves come out? Those truly kick-ass photos I wanted? I found the perfect family to let me try this stuff out, took them out on well-marked trail, and let them go to town with the Holi powder. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.