Meet Finley. Finley is a new arrival into the world, photographed here at just 3 weeks old. His gorgeous name is the anglicized form of the gaelic name, meaning:
The fair haired warrior.
And what a little warrior he is. He also happens to be the perfect creation of my little brother and sister-in-law, so these photos mean all the more.
But there lies a challenge in baby photography- how do you capture and express a personality who is as yet little known and unformed? Many famous photographers have come up with styles and backdrops, go-to images; Anne Geddes has the monopoly here and is often imitated. These images are playful little stories for the parents and family, but what about the one who's been dressed up as a flower pot? What of Fin? Just Fin..
This new little awesome person is in there, it's just a matter of giving him the time and chance to show my camera.
No gimmicks, no lights, no set-up or posing his tiny body.. Just Fin.
And the magic was there. The second his big blue eyes caught a light reflection on my lens, he focussed his eyes (as much as he can at this time) and he engaged.. and he continued to stare right down the camera for a whole minute whilst I chatted and sung from behind it. His hands moved slowly around, his legs kicked up and about, but his eyes held. My finger didn't leave the shutter.
At the family home, there are photo albums on the top shelf of the library wall; lined up neatly under a thin layer of dust. In prep for this shoot, I climbed a chair, and whilst coughing amidst a cloud of dust, stacked my arms high with photo memories. They were all taken by my father, also a photographer, and all have a very intense realism- some call this 'reportage'. There is a super characterful and natural feel to all of them; artful and thought out, but immediate and honest; me laying in the grocery weighing scales when I was born; my older brother laughing whilst drinking out of an ale jug; my mother holding my younger brother whilst staring out of a window in the daylight..
It is this that I work to with kids and babies. It is in this place, that I try to nestle myself and my camera; shoulder to shoulder with the organised chaos of domestic life;
gently looking over and around the realism of what it means to be (and to parent) such a young little one.
I don't want to tidy this away, or to filter it out.. for it is this stuff that my family point to the most now that they are re-visiting our old albums.
Robert Frank, famous for his reportage photography of the 60s, describes this point more clearly than I..
"...There is one thing the photograph must contain, the humanity of the moment. This kind of photography is realism. But realism is not enough – there has to be vision and the two together can make a good photograph. It is difficult to describe this thin line where matter ends and mind begins..."