Usually we see each other in my neighborhood when he and his dad come to the Children's Museum on weekend mornings. Yesterday, I cooled off during the midsummer rainstorm with my pal Ezra in his third floor digs while we gave his mom wee break. We played with his train set, read book a dozen times, made his stuffed bull make funny voices and ate some lunch.
A bit of a visit, and a bit of playing and a bowl of quinoa and squash and beans later - he was getting ready to lay down for an afternoon nap. This portrait session was more environmental portraiture, more of a lifestyle session, than the work I typically do at the Fort Point studio. It was a fun afternoon. For hi. And for me.
What contributes to environmental portraiture? The authenticity of personal history. Home-based environmental portraits like these of Ezra hold a different kind of meaning. They tell his story through his toys, through his surroundings and his interactions in the. They are filled with a personalized story in a way that studio portraits aren’t able to do. There is specificity of the images, as they are this one specific boy in his unique environment. I think about what he might remember, which images might trigger other, deeper, memories of childhood as he re experiences them when he is an adolescent or an adult. Will he remember the feel of the fabric of this chair against his cheek? Will he remember the endless hours of play at this train set, even as his own father remembers playing with this very one three decades ago? Doubtless he will not remember this specific afternoon, when I came to visit with my camera. But he might recall something of this time in his childhood.
Of course, this also includes the honor of being welcomed into someone’s home; finding inspiration and creativity in the objects and the space around you; and making images resonant with personal histories. And that’s bigger than one rainy afternoon.