What is/was your personal project and what inspired you to start it?
My project is actually a collaboration with 5 other photographers (all CM members) called “Eleven Sons: Six Mothers Photograph Boyhood”. I had been wanting to start a personal project for some time, especially after a workshop I took where we all started brainstorming personal projects. None of the ideas I had at the time really compelled me to get started. During that workshop, I was also introduced to a project that was particularly interesting to me, it was a visual conversation between six photographers. Two of my closest photography friends and I started discussing the idea of a group project, and the idea for Eleven Sons was born. One thing that the three of us had in common was that we were all mothers to (only) boys, so we eventually decided that we wanted our project to be a an exploration of our experience of being moms to our boys. We then recruited a few more of our CM friends and the six of us came up with the name, set up our group blog, decided on a posting format, etc.
Are there any challenges or ruts you faced during your project and how did you overcome them and keep a creative eye?
A big challenge that we discussed right away was that we didn’t want to rely heavily on gender stereotypes. We wanted to dig a little bit deeper and really explore the experience of being mothers to young sons. I’m not sure that I’ve gotten as deep as I am hoping just yet. As with all of my work, I want to do more than just observe and capture moments of boyhood, I try to create images from my heart that really say something about my experience. We don’t want people to just see dirty little boys playing with trucks (although that is a big part of our lives, too), we want to share the experience of mothering boys with our viewers, whether they are also mothers to boys and can relate to us or they haven’t raised boys at all and are curious to know what it’s like. I think the project and the way we create our images will continue to evolve as we go along.
What have you learned through your process with your personal project?
I’ve learned that it’s hard work to tell a story with a single image and no words. Since we have a posting schedule, we each post one image every week and some weeks are more difficult than others. It’s been a good way to motivate myself to shoot, as has seeing the beautiful work of my friends. I am not always happy with my image for the week, but I have no choice but to post it and move on to the next week.
Is there anything additional about your project that readers may find interesting?
We each post one photograph weekly, using only the day of the week as a title so that we can let our images do the talking and let our audience make their own interpretations. We also post monthly galleries where you can see all of the images together. We were all very interested in seeing patterns emerge about our experience raising sons.
Something that I noticed early on is that we all frequently use anonymity in our images, which wasn’t something that we had discussed at all and just happened naturally.