There is something about receiving an enquiry from a return client that truly warms my heart and adds a certain value to my craft . It reminds me that I am someone who not only takes photographs, but also makes permanent evidence of moments that pass by so quickly we would otherwise lose them in amongst the countless information we take in on a daily basis. The information that makes the memories we treasure harder and harder to find. We begin to have to strain and reach to remember if it was in that moment or in that location that a certain defining event took place, or if we are mistaken and blending one memory with another in a swirling mass of mental images and information that only fades with time. 

The only thing we can do to ensure a level of permanence, of proof, is by capturing this moment in a series of frames or document it in a film that we can re-play. This process doesn’t completely retain a memory, of course, but it can help fill out the gaps. A photograph can become a cue for a story, a reminder of something you didn’t realise you had forgotten. 


This feels especially true when that return client I mentioned in the outset is a mother of a newborn child you photographed two years ago and is now expecting her next addition to this world. Seeing little Monroe’s face smiling up at me as she had become a whole person with thoughts and personality since the time I photographed her last was jarring in the best way. It brought me to realise that what I did for people like the lovely Kirsty was more than just taking a few photographs; it was a ritual of preservation. My photographs of Monroe ensured that when she is holding her own child one day, she will have a piece of tangible comparison to when she was sleeping all those years ago. She will be able to directly compare her smile and her eyes with her own child in the same way that Kirsty and I compared her with her brother as I photographed Oakley. 

Here is my testimony to a moment that has passed, but will now remain forever - when a mother and her two little ones came into my life and I photographed tiny toes, unblinking eyes staring into the light of the window, laughter and admiration as a two year old kissed her baby brother’s forehead, the indescribable way that a perfect little human stares into his mothers eyes and loves her with his whole tiny existence. 

Bethany StanleyComment