The Victorian Breastfeeding Photo Fad

So great. I wonder if they used them as calling cards.

 "Cultural constructions of femininity became highly centered on motherhood and the special bond between a mother and her children in the Victorian era.

As daguerreotypes became available, women began to pose breastfeeding their infants, capturing them in this most essential of maternal roles."  From Gwen Sharp on Sociological Images

 

 

 

 

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Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters

I saw this a while back, but was just remembered to post some quotes I liked from it: 

Gregory Crewdson: 

"My pictures are about the search for a moment: the perfect moment, in a way.  Photography always has an association with trying to preserve a moment, you know. An attempt to hold onto something."

"[My photos pull from] the whole aesthetic tradition of looking for an intersection between everyday life and some sense of theatricality." 

"My pictures are a moment between moments."

"They're secrets. We all have secrets. People living with secrets and not happily so." 

These aren't really groundbreaking views on photography, I know. I just like how his thinking affirms my own and what I'm trying to do with my work.

I thought this documentary was well done. A great way to glimpse Crewdson's motivations and to see how intense his photo production is. I've never understood why other photographers don't seem to like him. I'm convinced it's just jealousy. He did seem to blow up out of nowhere around 2000. Suddenly his work was everywhere and cost big money. I guess there are others out there who have a problem with this kind of staged photography, too, which is ridiculous. There are many kinds of photography and one is not better than another. I think Crewdson's work is an important part of the conversation about photography as a whole.

 

Ghost mother photography

I am totally in love with the phenomenon of "ghost mother" or "hidden mother" photography. Other examples here and here. Some may find these images of forms lurking behind infants and children creepy and disturbing, but I feel an overwhelming sense of connection and empathy toward these masked human figures. I can't see who's underneath, but I know them well. They are me.

I joke that, for me, the experience of becoming a mother was like someone shot at my head, exploding it into a million pieces, which I then had to figure out how to put together again. Maybe I'm being overly dramatic, and I know every parent goes through this in some way or another, but I was totally unprepared for what it's like to have a kid. It turns your entire sense of self upside down, and in my case, I felt more like I lost myself completely. Basic things that I took for granted, like eating and drinking, going the bathroom, or walking the one block to the mailbox near my house, were poof! overnight impossible. Everything took a back seat to this extremely difficult baby that never slept and screamed all the time. I stopped doing all sorts of things that I loved, like taking photos, working out, and even reading books, because it was impossible. To top it off, all the hormones and sleep deprivation gave me "baby brain" and I found my memory so fogged that I had a hard time remembering words and thinking coherent thoughts. This made it difficult to talk to other adults when I was actually around them. My physical isolation became an emotional isolation, which in turn produced more physical isolation when I started avoiding people because it was easier than humiliating myself and exhausting myself further by trying to communicate. I became like a lump, one of the shrouded figures, with a baby on its lap.

I did try to get out and meet other moms, but our talk never seemed to get beyond the basics of trading advice about infant care. I would walk away from long conversations, realizing that I knew the other child's name and seemingly everything about him or her, but nothing about the mother, not even her name. And when I'd meet other parents, we'd talk about other neighbors we knew, and referred to them not by their names but by their kids' names. "Oh, do you know Gabriel's mom?" "Kate's mom and I met at the playgroup." And so on.

Luckily, my daughter grew up (as they tend to do), and at about two-and-a-half, she stopped hanging on my leg and screaming whenever I tried to do anything. She started sleeping through the night soon after. I put all the pieces of my head back together (most of them at least) and I no longer feel like the hidden, ghost mother.

 

Holly Andres and Polixeni Papapetrou

Two photographers who's work I've been checking out are Holly Andres and Polixeni Papapetrou. They both recreate psychologically charged scenes from their youth and employ a cinematic style that I love. They both have that "Another Girl, Another Planet" / Gregory Crewdson vibe going on.

 Anna's Birthday Party II by Holly Andres

Anna's Birthday Party II by Holly Andres

 The Missing Bird by Holly Andres

The Missing Bird by Holly Andres

 Anna's Birthday Party III by Holly Andres

Anna's Birthday Party III by Holly Andres

The above photos are from Andres's series Anna's Birthday Party and Sparrow Lane. I also especially love The Trail of Sparrow Lane. Found via A Photo Editor.

Polixeni Papapetrou has a series called Games of Consequence that reminds me a lot of Anna Gaskell's work.

 Dreams Are Like Water by Polixeni Papapetrou

Dreams Are Like Water by Polixeni Papapetrou

 The Fall by Polixeni Papapetrou

The Fall by Polixeni Papapetrou