All images by Pep Ávila. Used with Creative Commons permission.
Of all the things we like asking children, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” resonates the most. These dreams mean a lot to young minds and hearts, so watching them crumble or fade is always a heartbreaking ordeal. This was the idea that Barcelona-based photographer and cinematographer Pep Ávila executed into an emotional ad campaign for international independent children’s organization Save the Children.
The three images for the ad campaign show powerful scenes of children distressed as they try to revive collapsed adults against urban settings. Pay close attention to the taglines and the real picture begins to unfold: each of the adults — a firefighter, an astronaut, and a doctor — represent what each of the children dream to become when they grow up. Knowing this little detail makes the overall narrative even more impactful, moving, and urgent.
It’s this act of resuscitation that Pep has found to be the most effective narrative device to deliver the campaign’s message. “The children pump the body with hope and the need to revive a dream threatened with death, the dream of one day becoming the hero they admire and want to be.”
As we can imagine, conceptualizing and executing such moving imagery was no easy task. It was the work of a team who have an urgent message to deliver. As the photographer, the challenging task of coaxing the right emotions out of the young models fell on Pep. What he thought of to bring out his desired narrative was as emotional as the big idea itself.
“It is not difficult to work with children when we ask them to play children. It was exciting to see them cry when I asked them to do the action of helping their parents breathe. I told them to think about trying, but maybe it was too late. In children the connection with their emotions is much more immediate than with adults, more intuitive, less rational.”