Relationships: inching closer

by juliakeil

“The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.”  Dorthea Lange

 My faith in humanity seems to be growing by the day. Every week I feel closer and learn so much not only about the people I photograph but about myself and why I approach photography and the people in front of my lens the way that I do. These assignments are  increasingly proving to me that the more you put yourself out there, make those connections with people and get speaking and listening, the more doors you open to future opportunities and defining experiences. It is really rather enlightening.

This next assignment was Relationships. This could be any form of relationship between humans and the restrictions were once again: 400 ISO, 50mm, black and white.

Although at first stressing a little and thinking who would ever let me get so intimately close without even knowing me in this short amount of time, I managed to record three different relationships.

The first of which was Lara and Emma. The two of them are married and are looking to start a family soon. The lovely Lara used to be in marketing but now works as a project manager for an IT company and Emma is a talented carpenter and furniture maker. The two of them were so different from one another yet worked so well together. Here you can really say..opposites attract. What struck me most was the utmost respect each had for the other even after being together for 9 years. I’m not saying that respect for your partner eventually dwindles, I’m just saying that it really is something admirable and special when after 9 years a couple still behave like young lovers with a deep and gentle respect for each other.

Next was Liz and Poppy, fellow Brockley residents who i met at St. Peters Church during ‘Little Fishes’, a morning playgroup the church runs. Rev. Corinne was kind enough to introduce me to the group and luckily I was approached by a few mothers who were interested.

After the morning group, Liz invited me to hers to spend time with her and little fine haired 14 month old Poppy as they relaxed at home together. I happily accepted. Liz, an accountant in her 40’s ( you would not think it in the slightest), lives with her husband Bob, Poppy and two (well-behaved) pit bulls in a lovely house in Brockley. The house exuded warmth the minute I stepped inside and it was not just because of the fabulous floor heating. The place just felt like…a home.

There was such gentleness between mother and daughter. A deep and silent understanding reverberated between the two of them which would put anyone at ease. The dogs played their part as well, both protective and observant if at times a little crazy.

Coming in from the cold

Liz, Poppy and the pit pulls
After a diaper change
inspecting the doggy biscuits
equality definitely ran in this house

An unbeatable connection, mother and child

A broken nail

Later that evening I arranged to spend time at the home of another Liz who I met earlier at the Little Fishes group. She kindly invited me over to photograph her and her husband Ed putting their two children Phoebe, 3 years old and Bill, 21 months, to bed.

Liz originally from Australia, is a photographer and her husband Ed is a journalist. A perfect match ;0). They are currently expecting their third child and planning on moving back to Australia soon.

What struck me this time was how diverse each family is. The way things are run changes from household to household which I guess is something one would expect but somehow at least for me this wasn’t realised until I got to glimpse behind closed doors.

So when I stepped into Liz and Ed’s place there was an immediate sense of schedule. The kids had to be put to bathed and put to bed. This was done by both parents in a stress free manner and with hardly any resistance from the children. I made a conscious decision in this instance to not just focus on one relationship but observe all of the bonds revealing themselves before me.

The bond between Liz and Ed was strong and sturdy and the bond between them and the children was secure yet soft.

The charmer, Bill

Bath time was over. The only moment of resistance.

'Helping' his mother replace a lightbulb

Preparing for bedtime stories

Let the stories begin...

Father and daughter

A tender moment

Checking temperatures

Sweet dreams

I will conclude this post by saying thank you. Thank you to all these wonderful individuals who so openly let me into their lives. This assignment has taught me that there are doors out there just waiting to be opened. All you have to do is keep your eyes open and ask.

Stay tuned for the next post coming soon: Assignment 4: Formal Portraits…