Italian photographer Gabriele Galimberti is always traveling the world in search of adventure, good stories, and interesting people. For his latest project entitled “Toy Stories”, Galimberti photographed children from around the world with their most prized possesion. He did not expect to uncover much we did not already know. “At their age, they are pretty all much the same,” is his conclusion after 18 months working on the project. “They just want to play.”
But it’s how they play that seemed to differ from country to country. Galimberti found that children in richer countries were more possessive with their toys. “At the beginning, they wouldn’t want me to touch their toys, and I would need more time before they would let me play with them,” says the Italian photographer. “In poor countries, it was much easier. Even if they only had two or three toys, they didn’t really care. In Africa, the kids would mostly play with their friends outside.”
However, there are many similarities in which the kids regard their toys, especially when it comes to their function. Galimberti met a six-year-old boy in Texas and a four-year-old girl in Malawi who both maintained their plastic dinosaurs would protect them from the dangers that await them at night. More common was how the toys reflected the world each child was born into - the girl from an affluent Mumbai family loves Monopoly, because she likes the idea of building houses and hotels, while the boy from rural Mexico loves trucks, because he sees them rumbling through his village to the nearby sugar plantation every day. A Lativian kid plays with miniature cars because his mother drove a taxi, while the daughter of an Italian farmer has an assortment of plastic rakes, hoes and spades.
Working for Toy Stories, Galimberti learned as much about the parents as he learned about the children. Parents from the Middle East and Asia, he found, would push their children to be photographed even if they were initially nervous or upset, while South American parents were “really relaxed, and said I could do whatever I wanted as long as their child didn’t mind”.