Where Children Sleep: Portraits From Around The World

Jun 15, 2012
Originally published on June 16, 2012 3:26 am

Where did you sleep when you were growing up? Did you have a room or share one? What did it look like?

Italy-based English photographer James Mollison says that for him, it would depend on the age. Thinking back to his earliest years in Kenya, where he was born, he remembers teddy bears. A few years later, it was all about mice. Then Duran Duran posters. And later, Army paraphernalia.

Mollison is of the mind that a child's bedroom speaks volumes about his or her circumstances. And if you haven't seen the photos from his book Where Children Sleep yet, take a look and you will probably agree.

"It came about because I was originally asked to come up with an idea for UNICEF's anniversary," he says on the phone. Uninspired by the stereotypical emotive portrait, he wanted to create something that says more.

UNICEF wasn't wild about his pitch, so he ended up tackling it on his own. In some instances, Mollison traveled specifically for this project, but for the most part, he found children to photograph while traveling for other assignments.

The concept doesn't seem like it would be an easy one to explain — especially in places like the remote regions of the Amazon. "People don't want to know what you're up to; why do you wanna go into a kid's bedroom?"

But the concept resonates when you see the images of children, literally worlds apart, juxtaposed on pages. Mollison photographed them all in the same way, he says, to show just how different they really are.

Mollison's book, Where Children Sleep, was released about two years ago, but the images were recently part of a projection series at the Look3 photo festival in Charlottesville, Va.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit