Category Archives: photography

Playful Eyes


When the stars align and there’s a skillful set of playful eyes at the ready, play’s transitory essence can be distilled into a frame of now. This sequence of images – older sister shooting little brother – dates back nearly 10 years. I’m sharing it today in celebration of big sister’s birthday.


Can there possibly be a better toy than the humble plastic colander? Through discovery and experimentation, a commmonplace item is elevated to a magical stratosphere while still retaining its intrinsic simplicity. The pleasure goes beyond the laughing of it.


There is something elemental in the spontaneous belly rumbling giggles that burst out in a good session of play. I am happy to have rediscovered these images after a long absence. They embody so many narratives. There are the individual stories of my son and daughter (subject and shooter), the story of family and sibling relationships, the artful story of photography itself and of course the exuberant story of the moment, play for play’s sake.


There can never be an overabundance of photographs that portray authentic moments of spontaneous joy. Engaging images like this of kids anywhere are always a gift to behold. For a passing breath, I step more lightly buoyed by an ethereal current.


Rearranging the sequence of the images makes for new rememberings of linear events. Thanks for these shots Alexa and happy birthday my love.

To see Alexa’s more recent work, visit her on instagram @seriouslyalexa or visit the FB page for her photography business with her partner Luke – North by North Photography. This photographic duo based in Halifax, Nova Scotia are both graduates of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design – NSCAD University.

Steve McCurry is there when play erupts, is in full exuberant swing. These joyous images bear witness to play’s universal beat. By nature it shines a bright light wherever it is allowed to flourish.

It’s Starting to Feel a lot like Christmas – Snow Playgrounds

NORAD has the market on tracking Santa just about cornered. Kids all over the world follow St. Nick’s Christmas Eve progress online.

In just over a week, the jolly old guy will launch his sled and Christmas 2012 will be here. Kids will be dreaming of a white Christmas where climate makes it a possibility and wondering perhaps what the white stuff is really like if they live outside of the snow zones. Here in Canada’s far east we’re buffeted by Arctic and Atlantic winds at this time of year. So far they’ve only brought us a few dancing flakes that haven’t amounted to anything lasting.

3137172_a6ca8c2550Tisdall Elementary School playground, Vancouver, Canada. Photo Credit – gillicious. License – CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

The ‘It’s Starting to Feel a lot like Christmas – Snow Playgrounds’ gallery is a selection of 18 photos created by looking through 1000s of images of snowy playground posted by flickr members. Each one of these 18 tickled my fancy in some way. I hope you will get some enjoyment out of them too.

Proxy Playgrounds

Occasionally, intrepid photographers comb the planet looking for playgrounds to immortalize digitally for PlayGroundology readers. Truth is, that’s me in my Walter Mitty moments, dreaming wildly of a posse of professional playground shooters on assignment and sharing their best shots here.

In fact, what’s happening is that I am sometimes able to cajole traveling friends and family to take a few snaps for me of interesting playgrounds they happen across. These folks become my proxies taking me, and by extension those of you who tune in here, to playgrounds I have never visited before.

Near Loch Lomond, Scotland

Thanks to my septuagenarian parents, PlayGroundology has snagged some photos of Scottish, Swedish and Dutch playgrounds. The Scottish shots are in the vicinities of Loch Lomond, Strone and Inverkip, familiar places full of memories reaching back nearly 60 years for them.

I don’t remember much in the way of playgrounds when I first went Clydeside as a 5-year-old. I was a kindergarten kid at Larkfield School in Greenock for a couple of months and remember playing in the schoolyard but don’t recall any equipment.

Near Loch Lomond, Scotland

On another visit in the late ’60s, I remember a playground up behind the shops close by my granma’s place on Auchmead Rd. I also recall the most grueling ‘game’ I ever played. In the backyard of the Council houses, I had to run a gauntlet between two lines of 15 kids per line who whaled away at me with their feet, fists and knees as I ran through as quickly as I could. Following this medieval-like ordeal I did get a grudging acceptance from the local kids. It was the rite of passage for the Canadian boy on the block.

Near Loch Lomond, Scotland

For more Loch Lomond playground photos from my parents’ excellent playground adventure, check PlayGroundology FB. Addiitonal photos will be posted to PlayGroundology FaceBook over the coming days.

Before you go, take a wee listen to Runrig’s rendition of a song long associated with Scotland, Loch Lomond. It’s a tune, a place and a playground.

You may also like these posts with photos provided by friends.

In the Name of Play – On Assignment, Dateline Atlanta

Paris Playgrounds a la Carte

Play Faces

Kids look awesome when they’re playing, having fun. The movements, gestures and sounds are a universal language. Here are a few photos to share through the generosity of flickr members who use Creative Commons licenses for their work. I hope you’ll enjoy these faces of play.

Click images to enlarge.

Happy Face – Playing in the Fields; Photo credit – Joseph Andie R Lamug; Source; Creative Commons .

Child Play – Madagascar, child playing with a automobile made of carrot and other vegetables; Photo credit – Michele Molinari; Source; Creative Commons.


On the Run – Bangalore, India; Photo credit- Syed Nabil Aljunid; Source; Creative Commons.


Just having fun… – Guizhou, China; Photo credit – Sung Ming Whang; Source; Creative Commons


Superman and friends playing with bubbles – Seattle, USA; Photo credit – wonderlane; Source; Creative Commons


Boys Playing Stickball, Havana, Cuba, 1999; Photo credit – Cliff; Source; Creative Commons.


Playing; Photo credit – Michel Di Feliciantonio; Source; Creative Commons.


J.O.Y. B.O.Y.; Photo credit – Vinoth Chandar; Source; Creative Commons.


Woooo…; Photo credit – Mads Bødker; Source; Creative Commons.

Share a play face or two, or three within your social networks. Grab one from here – they all have creative commons licenses – or take one of your own images and share it around. Play faces are infectious, they make people smile.

In the Name of Play – On Assignment, Dateline Atlanta

On occasion friends, family and colleagues traveling abroad indulge my playground proclivities. When I hear of an impending trip, I ask the traveler if they would consider keeping an eye out for interesting playgrounds and bringing back a few photos to share with readers of PlayGroundology.

Colleagues sometimes look at me a little bemusedly smiling all the while – they’re usually not aware of my playground blogging but are game to grab a few digital images once I give them the elevator pitch. To date, PlayGroundology‘s intrepid freelance photographers have provided great pics from small town Italy, Paris, Hong Kong, Scotland, Vienna and most recently, Atlanta.

Shortly after I heard my co-worker Chris was Atlanta bound I popped the question. Any chance of taking a few snaps of the Isamu Noguchi designed Playscapes? Turns out he was staying close by Piedmont Park and thought he’d be able to swing it.

Playscapes, Piedmont Park, Atlanta, USA. Click image to enlarge.
Photo credit: Chris Brooks.


When an artist stops being a child, he stops being an artist.

– Isamu Noguchi

Inscription on the rededication plaque for Playscapes, the Noguchi-designed playspace in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park


Play aficionados revere Noguchi. Even though he was a visionary at creating space for kid’s play, only two of his designs, Atlanta’s Playscapes and the Kodomo No Kuni Playground near Tokyo, were realized during his lifetime. The sculptor, artist and landscape architect has a museum dedicated to his life work in Long Island, New York.

Playscapes model. Source: The Noguchi Museum

During some down time, Chris strolled through the gates of stately Piedmont Park and made his way over to the Playscapes playground. On arrival he read a sign with the following message. “This playground is an area for children’s recreation. Adults unaccompanied by children are respectfully requested to use another part of the park.” As unobtrusively as possible, before receiving a tap on the shoulder from a parent or member of the local constabulary, he snapped the pics in the slideshow below and hightailed it to ‘another part of the park’. Thank you Chris for your steely determination in the face of opprobrium.

Playscapes slideshow. Photo Credits: Chris Brooks. Click through here or on image above for flickr slideshow.

Atlanta’s Playscapes is elegant in its simplicity, functional and fun with the added benefit of lending itself as a tool to explore geometry and shapes.

For more on Noguchi’s playground designs check these fine write ups in and Sweet Juniper. To view some interesting models for Noguchi playspaces click through on Remiss 63’s photostream on flickr. Finally, here is a brief story with photos on the Playscapes restoration from the Atlanta Task Force on Play.

Playscapes under the Shading Trees. Photo credit: Chris Brooks. Click image to enlarge.

My fine arts photography major daughter Alexa will set aside some time on her trip to New York City later this week to grab shots of NYC playgrounds. I can’t wait to see what her keen eye captures for PlayGroundology readers.

If you have playground photos you’d like to share in PlayGroundology, we’d love to see them. Just send them to and we’ll get back in touch with you.

Hungarian Playgrounds – Slides, Sculptures and Handcrafted Wood

Earlier this month, PlayGroundology posted a video of Hungarian youth refurbishing a neglected and unloved playground. If you haven’t read the post or watched the short video, take a peek here. It’s uplifting to see this playspace come alive again through the efforts of a group of young people.

Playgrounds in such a derelict state are few and far between. Click here for a Hungarian Playgrounds flickr gallery – slides, sculptures and handcrafted wood.

Playtime by NZSam
Playtime, a photo by NZSam on Flickr.

Thanks again to flickr photographers who allow their work to be shared in galleries.