Impulsive Photo Shoots

Carrying my camera with me on a hike with my children, I shot moments of Lennon dually happy and miserable.  I was home alone with the kids one weekend, while my husband was away camping, and decided I needed to get them and myself out of our house.  Rush was dying to go on a hike, and Lennon desperately needed a change of scenery.  However, Lennon was presently suffering from an episode of pink eye.  She was also teething and extremely fussy.  I thought a nice short hike, through a Nature Preserve in our neighborhood, would be a good way to entertain.  It was, but Lennon was pretty miserable by the end of it all.  I brought lots of water, snacks, etc. for this adventure but I hadn’t anticipated walking three miles carrying a 20 pound baby.  I had previously walked this hike with my husband and didn’t remember it taking us so long to get to the creek!  Stupidly, I neglected to bring a baby carrier so I was carrying Lennon in my arms.  Upon reaching the creek, Lennon gulped down her water but refused to eat a cracker.  She was also incredibly worn out! The kids were already lathered in sunscreen and there were so many trees shading us, but at the creek Lennon started to develop a mild heat rash.  She gets one when she takes a bath and I wasn’t too concerned since she was drinking so much water.  I tried to take a few photos of this moment and really play with the light.  From far away, her rash and pink eye are barely visible.  If the viewer were to take a closer look, that is when the misery rises to the photograph’s surface.    I thought this might make for a good example of a “Sally Mann” style photograph, so I couldn’t resist taking a picture of this beautiful, radiant portrait of Lennon with a piece of real childhood attached to it.  I was thinking about Mann’s photo of her oldest daughter, where she captures a very intimate close-up of her daughter’s face and then suddenly the becomes aware of her swollen eye.  I took these photographs just below her level so that we would be looking up at her and she would appear more monumental.  I wanted the photograph to be her looking down at us, the viewers.

There is a magical quality to all of Mann’s photographs that hauntingly and, sometimes, directly addresses the viewer.  There is no way to forget a Sally Mann photograph.  They are too memorable.  I decided to produce photos for this project only in black and white because, at the moment, I do not know that much about photography and color would extremely complicate my decisions and ultimate compositional readings.  Plus, most of the photographers I am studying produce mainly in black and white.  I took advantage of two other photo shoot opportunities and tried to captures some “Sally Mann” styled photographic moments.  Being a mother of two, I do not have that much time to devote to this project and I need to experiment when and where that I can.  After watching that documentary about Sally Mann in Art 160, I really saw how organic and spontaneous her style for producing compelling photographs is.  She would take photographs of her children while they were playing with their friends and family and, when asked why she chose to photograph her children, she (from documentary) stated, “I took photographs of my children because they were just there.”

I played around with my camera at my son Rush’s third Birthday party and tried to isolate and freeze moments as I followed Lennon around this indoor playground place.  We hadn’t studied too many photographers in class that were purposefully conceptual, so my knowledge came from previous classes and a little bit of research.  I love how Sally Mann closes in the world of her children, by darkening the background so that the children glow in comparison.  She toys with ideas of innocence and gender as her children play, around unaware of these differences.  They are secluded in the world of their imaginations.  She is both radical and controversial for photographing her children in the nude and capturing their sexuality.  But to me it is not pornographic because it is a projection of innocence; an innocence that will most likely become corrupted by the world as her children grow into adults.  There is a strong juxtaposition in a lot of them as well, between adulthood and childhood.

After viewing that documentary in class, however, I decided to take the ideas from Rush’s birthday party further with what I had learned and observed.  The rest of these photographs come from moments of a rainy day I spent with my kids, while my husband was away on another camping trip.  I chose to strip both Lennon and Rush of their shirts so that they would appear similarly gendered.  I tried to portray the adorable love Lennon feels for her brother in a “Sally Mann” style.  I played with the lighting to make these frozen moments appear shut off from the rest of the world.  I also worked with framing and zoomed in and cropped some photographs to enhance that feeling.  Lennon is unaware her brother is of a different gender than her and she always desires to copy him; to be just like him.  Rush loves her also, but does not always return that same tender affection.  I wanted these photographs to capture her obliviousness and appear just like “one of the boys.”  I know the connection between them will change once she becomes enlightened by this higher knowledge and awareness of gender.  I feel like I was more experienced this time around and was able to captures some incredibly intimate and tender moments between the two of them.  And I will write more about the photographs I’m drawn to specifically when I delve further into this project and discuss them with my professor.

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