Use your camera as a measuring device… find a subject that you have empathy with and take a sequence of shots to ‘explore the distance between you.’
24th May 2018
These are shots of my eldest son Nathan. It’s only very recently (the last few weeks), that he’s let me take any photographs of him; he usually feels too self conscious. Nathan is 15, and we were always very close, I think more than most because I home educated both Nathan and my youngest son Daniel, so we spent a lot of time together just exploring the world and learning things together. Nathan and I are mentally very similar and when I look at him, not just physically but mentally, I can see myself at that age. He loves exploring numbers, playing with mathematical ideas in his head, and is constantly asking these complex questions about chemistry and quantum physics that I could have answered and discussed for hours on end fifteen years ago but now find myself struggling to answer.
I don’t know if it’s this struggle that is making me feel a certain distance from him as I feel that I’m now pulling in another direction and asking myself questions in a different way and finding the answers in different places. But in another way it’s almost like we are both going through the same stage; I find myself taking on more and more outside of the family environment and finding the escape from it’s confines a new experience that I really enjoy, and he’s doing and feeling the same. So there is this simultaneous distance and understanding created.
There is also the inevitable point that teenagers reach where a space has to be created for them to really find their place and know and understand what they are capable of outside of the family environment. I am delighted as I watch him grow and gain strength and confidence, but I know there is a distance being created by both of us at this stage in his life which will allow us to gain a new understanding of each other later on.
When I was doing some research on pornography, I found an idea that stuck with me because it seemed to mirror perfectly what I feel about where Nathan is, where most teenagers are. The idea was about the tension between confidence and vulnerability, and that being mirrored in the positioning of a subject between the home (the family environment which is protective, loving and nurturing) and the harsh realities of the outside world (with it’s criticism, judgements and competitiveness). That’s why I’ve put Nathan next to the window, to suggest something of that idea. I’m not sure if it’s worked in the close up portraits. I think perhaps including more of the window, showing more of the outside world and more of Nathan would convey this idea more clearly so I’ll add some more shots to explore that idea. However, I’m not sure any of them have measured the distance between us so I’ll explore the idea of him beginning to let go of his childhood as I think that might resonate more forcefully.
I’ve used mono for several reasons. One is that being a teenager Nathan has some acne and is self-concious about his skin. However, I didn’t want to use software to remove blemishes because those blemishes are related to his age, and it’s important that’s clear in these images. I have used software before, but it makes him look older. Monochrome also helps to remove distractions of clashing colours and I feel it puts more attention onto Nathan’s expression and pose.
End as at 24/5/18