A New Year’s Resolution: 6 months in the making | Toronto documentary child photogapher

January 1, 2017

Last summer, I took a documentary photography course with the incredible Ruth Kaplan. She showed us how to look at the world, and our own work, through a different lens (pardon the pun).

Our final project was completely open. We could document anything we wanted. My mind was racing. So many choices!

I had an idea to capture enduring relationships, by recreating memorable pictures from people who have known each other for a long time (my parents, twins, high school sweethearts). Meh.

Next, I started taking pictures of bicyclists in Toronto.  I wanted to capture their (often tumultuous) relationship with cars.  The idea felt journalistic enough for a one-time news junkie.

I showed my first images to Ruth. Hmm she said.

How about these? She asked, pointing at another folder I had open.

It was option C . A collection of pictures I’d been taking of my son who had just turned 6. Compared with the projects my classmates had taken on, these images felt too personal, simple. She disagreed and encouraged me to go with it.

For the next week, I followed my son around taking note of his (rather unique) interests, habits, triumphs and set backs. I ended up with about 50 pictures that I whittled down to eleven.  These images weren’t necessarily my favourites, and not always the prettiest, but they were honest. They were the ones that best told the story of who J was at this point in time..right after his sixth birthday. A kindergarten graduate.

So why bring up that summer project now?

One answer I could give is that I’ve been meaning to share these pictures since July.

But I’m going to go with another answer: More than any portraits I’ve taken before or since, with this collection I created a visual document of J and his one-of-a-kind personality, quirks and fleeting interests as they were in July 2016 (looking back only six months later, it’s amazing to see what’s changed and what’s stayed the same).

So here’s my resolution: I want to adopt this approach for capturing other subjects in 2017.  My daughters. My parents. And hopefully my clients. Not a biography, but more of a visual document of an individual or a family, at one moment in time. I realise this idea isn’t earth shattering, and it’s definitely been done before, but it’s new for me – and that’s enough.

What do you think?

First blog post over.


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