Photographers have made pictures of their children since the invention of the medium. I began the process of recording my children's lives since their births 13 and 10 years ago, respectively. As I was concluding most of the creative work on my portrait series of Holocaust survivors, I focused on my children as subjects. I felt the need to focus on something more hopeful after dealing so long with the tragedy of the Holocaust. My older son, Ben, was learning to read and write. He was also at the age where many rites of passage occurred such as losing his first tooth and learning to ride a bike.
My long-standing investigation into ways of combining text with photographs led me to the idea of letting my sons write on the prints (beginning 1996). I wanted to know what their perceptions of the scenes being depicted were--I was curious to know if they were similar to mine. In time both boys were at work on this series. The original idea of drawing on them belongs to Ben. I am fascinated by the way that the drawn images interact and sometimes collide with the photographs.
In addition to threshold events, the photographs depict everyday experiences in the lives of ordinary kids growing up at an extraordinary time--America on the brink of the 21st century. I notice that the photographs document the way the boys have learned to think, the growth of their penmanship and vocabulary. The pieces also show how different the boys are from one another, and how much, despite their fighting and sibling rivalry, they love each other. Now that Ben has entered adolescence, he is less willing to participate-his privacy is important to him. It will be interesting to see how much longer the project will continue.
It fascinates me to see how my earlier autobiographical series, which addresses my own childhood, relates to the evolving work with my sons. Together they explore differing perceptions of childhood across a generation at the brink of the next millennium.