This week, New York City-based documentary family photographer Julie Harwood is sharing her point of view along with her photographs:
I am drawn to photographing relationships and the special connection and unconditional love between at least two people in a family; especially parents and their children, siblings, grandparents/grandchild, etc. and also in friendships. Visually, I like to show a touch or a look between two people that says “I got you.” When I photograph families, I want to show them not only the love and respect they have for each other, but also my appreciation for their connectedness, which plays such a central role in my work.
Connection is important in my work because it’s what I craved as I grew up.
Growing up, I would describe my family as disconnected. I didn’t feel like anyone had my back in my house as the craziness of my family’s shit swirled around me. Mom yelling, dad either away working or at home silently seething and waiting to blow, brothers fighting—not a whole lot of peace and ease. Loudness and chaos are what come to mind when I think of my childhood.
We all got through it, some of us more intact than others.
While they lived far away I always knew there were people in my family who unconditionally loved me. My grandmothers were my refuge. I knew I could count on them, so I have a soft spot for grandparents and am drawn to photographing the relationship between a grandparent and grandchild in my work. My grandparents delivered the connection I craved. I have such fond memories of the simple pleasures with them like driving with my grandmother to the beach with the top down on her convertible or my dad’s mom taking me on the bus in Providence, RI to the zoo or to the Newport Creamery for grilled cheese sandwiches and a milkshake.
Since it’s true that we are all just culminations of the many stories that make up our lives, the connection I craved growing up factors prevalently in my work; it’s what I most want to capture for the families I photograph—because I know just how important it is.
And I believe everyone should see that for themselves.