"Hope is born again in the faces of children" - Maya Angelou
It is said that some of the most important work a photographer can do is to turn the camera on their own lives. In the early part of my career, while servicing clients, I didn’t take the necessary time to make many personal family pictures, nor did it seem pressing, it appeared as though childhood would last forever. Now that my children have their own children, and the passing of time is very much more apparent, the impulse to document these young lives has become significant to me.
While not always literally in their own homes, we’re almost always at a home away from home. Whether they are visiting me or I am visiting them, we are always close to home. I know them intimately, and as a grandfather I’m trusted and able to get close. The necessary ingredients for any photo essay are present - access and acceptance. The camera has been around the children for most of their lives and they ignore it while the very serious business of play unfolds, and the mystery of make-believe prevails. The images are candid and made of unremarkable moments in everyday life, never staged. I watch, observe, and on occasion, the gestures, shapes and forms are arranged in the moment, and a picture is gifted for me to record. An unrecoverable fleeting moment in time.
Besides the narrative and the legacy, this work is, for me, a small antidote to the bad news and tidings that flow ceaselessly out of daily news broadcasts. The world seems to be going through a very difficult time now, politically, socially, economically, and with regard to the environment. While I sincerely respect those that bring us documentary photographs of the social issues of our time, I am compelled to record a little poetic and romantic story, a notion that all is well in this small world. To cast my gaze at the joy, trust, and soaring spirits of these unfolding young lives. To show that affinity and love of family can provide hope and courage, warmth and reliable relationships, and induce a positive feeling. Happiness being as profound as sadness.
It is important that the images maintain a lasting artistic integrity, not concerned with fashion and passing trends. An authentic attempt to look at the world through the children rather than at the children. The images deal with a commonality that is at our core, an inner life, that crosses cultural and generational boundaries. No matter where in the world you are, no matter how old you may be, we can all relate to our own childhood, the joys and challenges. The images hold up a mirror to show us that we are all more similar to one another than we are different. Part of each one of us is still the child that we once were, and my hope is that we can see or feel something of ourselves, and others, in these pictures. The personal is indeed universal.
Please also view Small World Parts 2 & 3 (links below).