Life of a Toddler


Sonul Rao
Digital Documentary Photography
December 2009

Being a parent is a full time job. This is one of the things I learned during the course of my final project, where I shot the development of my niece, Dhriti, from a baby to a toddler. Through this project, I wanted to show that there is a deep, emotional aspect of child development, one that equally involves both the parent and the child. I tried to capture almost every aspect of child development including a child’s first steps and interactions with the outside world. I also tried to illustrate the difficulties that both the parents and the child face when a child learns to become a bit more independent.

As the project progressed, I became more acquainted with my subject, Dhriti. I soon learned that although they are treated as babies, toddlers begin to develop their own distinct personalities even at the early ages of ten to twelve months. I found Dhriti to be an extremely vivacious child who loved to try new things and, to my surprise, she ate nearly everything in sight! I also became more aware of the immense amount of changes the parents undergo when introducing a new member into their family. Dhriti’s parents, Jaideep and Deepali, took some time to adjust to this new addition to their household. Yet, despite the fewer hours of sleep and less leisure time they now have, they are thrilled with having a daughter. They never cease to express excitement and wonder at her rapid growth and development.

As I am not used to photographing people, this project was a new experience to me. I began to capture intimate moments between the parents and child and soon realized the importance of waiting patiently for these moments. I was a bit uncomfortable shooting Dhriti close-up at first, but, in time, I learned to photograph her as candidly as possible. I organized my project to display a wide range of pictures from portraits of the emotions of a toddler to shots of family interactions. My project is intended to illustrate how social change has rudimentary elements that begin within the family as the basic social unit. I hope my viewers can connect with the photographs and understand that as transient as the development of a toddler might seem, it is a precious stage in every person’s life.