Family photos boost a child’s self image

Children whose parents display family photographs in the home grow up with greater confidence and sense of belonging than those who don’t, according to a top psychologist.

Professor Geoff Beattie, Head of School and Dean of Psychological Sciences at the University of Manchester, says that photography in the home makes children feel valued and gives them a rich understanding of where they come from.

Research conducted by Venture New Generation Portraits found that the number of photographs parents display of their children today is heavily influenced by how many photos of themselves they remember in their homes when growing up. Venture questioned 1,000 parents in October 2008.

The UK is a nation obsessed with keeping loved ones close, with 78 per cent of us keeping between one and fifteen pictures of our nearest and dearest around the home. However, those who have grown up without photos in the home are less likely to go on to display any of their own children presently, which could in fact be damaging their children’s image of self as they mature.

Professor Beattie, who has regularly appeared on GMTV, Richard and Judy and The Lorraine Kelly Show, said, “We cannot underestimate the power of photographs to keep us feeling linked to others and belonging. They cement us into our networks.

“For children in particular, looking at photographs is part of the socialising process; learning who you are and where you fit into the family. By displaying photographs of our children at different stages of their lives, we are making a very public statement that we are proud of them.”

The majority of parents questioned (83 per cent) had a favourite photo and of those, 58 per cent said it was taken with family, a partner or another loved one, and 45 per cent said it reminded them of a happy time.

Professor Beattie adds: “It’s very significant that the two reasons people give for loving a particular photograph is that it reminds them of a happy time taken with family. These things are so important to us.”

Richard Mayfield, Director of Photography of Venture New Generation Portraits, adds: “Our research shows how important it is to find the time to capture the real essence of a family. In today’s time-pressured world it is becoming increasingly difficult to spend good quality family time, however when we look at photographs, we remember how we felt when that picture was taken. At Venture we know that stiff, posed portraits will never evoke these powerful memories.

“Instead, we ensure that our studio experience is a fun happy time for all and that we take the time to make sure every family members’ real personality shines through. That way, we can be confident that every Venture portrait will continue to tell a family’s and a child’s story for years to come.”

The survey found that 38 per cent of those who grew up with no photos in the house now don’t display family photographs in their own homes

Professor Beattie said: “I have always been dismayed that there weren’t more photographs of my childhood. There’s nothing sadder than searching for an old picture which isn’t there.

“When children grow up surrounded by photographs, it gives them a richer understanding of where they come from, which helps with confidence. I have done a lot of research into how important it is to be reminded of the past, and photographs are a brilliant way of doing that.

“Until recently, people often thought of photographs as almost trivial, but actually they are an incredibly important way of connecting with our sense of self, with each other and with times gone by.”

Previous research by Venture has also found that 71 per cent of parents thought that having pictures displayed around the home boosts a child’s self-image and self-esteem, with 90 per cent stating that they believe children to be more aware of their own image than 10 years ago.

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