What is childhood made up of? Puppy dog tails, princess dresses? Forts in the living room, pancakes on Sundays? A bounce on a new mattress? A walk in the forest?
And what is remembered?
Parents provide the quotidien rythmn and orchestrate the big moments. Inevitably, amidst the soccer and schoolwork, If we are paying full attention, some thing akin to grace can happen. Time time slows and kids are caught up in the moment. In between all the motion of life come the magical moments. The ones that are indelible, or that harden into memory.
What if we could actually capture our children in those moments of grace, on film? It's nearly impossible to do – even in the age of the ubiquitous camera phone. Even if you're a good photographer.
Which is why I admire the work of Winky Lewis. She clicks her shutter in the moments when kids are just kids. In her words, they're slowed down. Not rushed, not performing. Just being. She shows life in the slow lane. It's intimate and ideal. A board game. A girl being engulfed in a pine wood. A boy being pulled on his skateboard by the family dog. So recognizable to all. Even if those moments haven't happened in our own life, we understand the romantic glimpse of childhood at work and can put ourselves in the minds of her subjects.
Winky is a photographer and mom who lives in Portland, ME. She and her best friend, a writer named Susan Conley who lives two doors away, made a pact. Winky would shoot one photo a week, and Susan would write prose to go along with it. Their children live and play alongside one and other and the result is a universally resonant document of those intersitial moments of growing up. Not the school or the lessons, the tutors or the team. Just the hanging out, the in between and the living.
If you like them as much as I do, consider following her on Facebook or Instagram. The two women are hoping to get their book published soon, and if you help share their story, you can help get the photographs published.
I would be remiss not to mention Sally Mann, whose exquisite portraits of her own children's rural childhood in West Virginia are widely collected (and somewhat contraversial for occasional nudity). Sally Mann has just written her autobiography, which both defies her critics and defends her choices to expose her children to the world.
In the meantime, take a lesson from Winky and slow down. It's nearly summer – the perfect time to unplug and play.