J. Wesley Brown's edit of my work
Titles: Painted, Prone, Hanging, Fever, Listless
I recently received an email from photographer J. Wesley Brown answering my Pick 5 challenge. I wasn't familiar with his work, so it was nice to start up an email exchange and be introduced to some new imagery.
From the email Wes sent with his edit: "I feel these images all reflect an inability to cope with life/the world, which is so interesting as this type of image usually depicts adults with these poses or expressions or in these types of situations, but instead they are of little ones, whose lives are so easy and fresh."
Wes' angle on that aspect of childhood in my photographs is one I hadn't considered, but once he pointed it out I think it's definitely an undercurrent, with the kids portraying in some ways an adult sensibility. Some of this may be an element of transference, in the sense that we can't help but see ourselves reflected in our children. Some of it may just be the act of freezing a moment--I'm often surprised by the facial expressions that come through when I look at my images after I download them, expressions I never really note when I'm interacting with the children in my life (my nephew Luca is in the fifth photo). I have thought how adult they look when their faces are held in such a still manner. Kids hardly ever stop moving, so it may be that these poses exist but are so brief that they have to be photographed and pinned down in order to portray that surprisingly grown-up sensibility.
It's a different kind of grouping for me to see--I'm usually trying so hard to show the variety in my work that I don't ever submit a set of photos that has all children in it. I get wrapped up in attempting to display my range via interiors, ones with children and ones without, objects alone, etc. So while it may not be an edit I myself would actually send to a curator, it's nice for once to see a grouping based on this overriding, important element to my work. Wes himself (after an exchange we had about the editing process) commented on his own way of pairing photographs, saying, "Originally they were grouped as people and places and perhaps I'm too caught up with that distinction and this obviously showed in my choice of your 5 images." It's something for all of us to think about when trying to put our pictures together in a coherent, meaningful way; to be careful not to pigeonhole ourselves into straight thematic strictures, while at the same time not being afraid to let our work go in the direction of typography if that's where it's headed. As always I come back again and again to that one key word: balance.