Occasionally I’ll get the impression that the parents of children I’m photographing don’t think I’m doing enough to pose their little ones in overtly “cute” ways. Some will even decide to help me out by directing the child themselves. Not only does this hinder the process of creating something genuine, but I personally think it sends a message that in order to be worthy of a portrait one must somehow be “more”. I know this isn’t intentional, but I truly feel this erroneous message is already being blasted into our consciousness from every possible direction, most especially the media. And I think it’s dangerous and damaging.
Babies and kids are just naturally cute, there’s no getting around that fact, but eventually cute fades, and then what is left? It would have to be essence. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with depicting cute in photographs, and I certainly have shot my share of those images, the hope is always that some element of essence is allowed to bubble up and reveal itself. And that can’t happen if a subject feels manipulated or controlled. All our lives we’re secretly desiring to be seen for who and what we really are. When we actually feel we have been seen in this way we experience it as love. So you could say I’m most wanting to write love letters to my subjects themselves with the photographs I make.
I love the word glimmer, as it’s defined as to shine faintly or unsteadily, much the way our physical beings move through life. Though we may have moments of bright shining glory and adulation from the masses, it’s the glimmer at the core of our being that draws to us a more trustable and lasting love. Our glimmer keeps us going when we most want to quit. Our glimmer can sustain us in times of poverty.
So no, I’m not really one to busy myself with posing a child that I’m photographing, and it may at times appear that I’m doing nothing at all. But what I’m busy with is seeing…..seeing and waiting for the hidden glimmering to make itself known, so that I might sketch a heartfelt but rudimentary love letter on a piece of photographic paper.