When photographer Gabriele Galimberti decided to travel around the world and capture snapshot moments of children with their toys, what he ended up learning was much greater than child's play -- he also gained greater insight into different cultures, parenting styles and social attitudes. Galimberti is a commercial photographer trying his hand at documentary and travel photography. On a recent 18-month trip around the globe, he photographed children from various locales, from Boulder, Colorado to Bail, Indonesia, all posing with their most beloved toys. His simply styled photograph series titled Toy Stories speaks volumes about the varying cultural attitudes children have toward their toys, while also highlighting the universal language of good old fashioned playtime that every child enjoys.
The toys Galimberti encountered reflected the world that the child was born into. A little girl from a wealthy family in Mumbai loved Monopoly because she likes the idea of buying and selling property. And a boy from rural Mexico had a collection of toy trucks indicative of the trucks he sees everyday going to and from the nearby sugar plantation. Moreover, a child’s toys were directly linked to what was important to parents, Galimberti learned. For example, he met a Latvian mother who drove a taxi for a living, and she bought her son dozens of miniature cars. While an Italian farmer gave his daughter an array of plastic rakes, hoes and spades to play with. Galimberti also discovered that the more affluent children with lots of toys had more trouble sharing and were less allowing of him touching their toys, whereas poorer children who had only a few toys had no problem at all letting him handle their toys.
You would think that the children from the various countries Galimberti visited would be vastly different and have very different toys. But “at their age, they are pretty much all the same. They just want to play,” says Galimberti. Furthermore, he discovered that the toys children play with today are not much different than those of the past three decades or so. “I’d often find the kind of toy I used to have,” he says, “It was nice to go back to my childhood somehow.”
See Galimberti’s Toy Stories pictorial in its entirety here.
All images © Gabriele Galimberti