Before I became a family photographer, I was a parenting researcher. I was interested in how parents behaved, and how their children developed.
Most of my research was longitudinal, so the children we studied were followed from birth until they were at least 9-10 years old. Grant funding continually helped us extend this period. This was a great thing from a research perspective - you were able to get multiple time-points of family life, not just a single snapshot.
However, most of the hands-on data collection and family visits were not done by me. They were done by research assistants who would collect the data and hand it over to us, the researchers.
For that reason, though I had a lot of information on families over time, I never actually got to meet and know families. I would watch them on a computer monitor when I reviewed their video-tapes. And it was all confidential, to protect the privacy of our 'subjects', so I didn't know anyone's names.
Again, all great from a research perspective.
But it was a lonely experience. I missed the opportunity to connect with any families. To truly get to know a family.
I had moved to human research after first studying fruit flies and rats, because I missed the human connection. And years later, I would move from human research to human photography because I craved more continuity, more human connection.
Each move has been absolutely good for me.
Here are some photographs from a recent family photo-shoot with a family I met during my Master's Thesis some 13 years ago at Queen's. I then photographed this family again in 2015. Now they're expecting twins, and I'll be photographing them when they arrive.
I'm endlessly thankful for repeat clients, but even more thankful that I consider these families to be friends, and that they allow me a glimpse into their lives. It's personal, and I respect that more than you can know.