Her name is Giova.
She is one of the wonderful children in a very large visual survey entitled
“Growing Up” that I’ve been working on since 1990.
This project started when I began making photographs of women at the end (38-40 weeks) of their pregnancies. What has long fascinated me is the remarkable biologic sculptural forms of women at this momentous time of their lives. I collected a series of these in my book “WITH CHILD.”
After the sessions for “Newborn,” I asked each mother to return with her child every year around the time of the child’s birthday to make another portrait. When the kids entered the second grade (at about 6 or 7 years old). After the portrait shoot I asked each child to answer written questions about their lives. The kids sat at a table in my studio to answer each question; when they were done, I had them put the questionnaire into an envelope and seal it. I promised I would not open the envelopes until they were adults and that no one would see their answers before that time. They filled out a new questionnaire with new questions at each of their yearly visits.
I started this project more than 20 years ago, so many of the children are now young adults. This summer, I have spent much of my time editing their images and thoughts. The results are fascinating and wonderfully revealing, and I’m hopeful that this work, involving well over 100 children, will be published in the next few years.
Giova, the sweet little child on the cover of New York Magazine, above, came back to the studio when she was one and then at age two.
After that, her family moved to the Midwest, so her growing up continued beyond my lens.
Alas, in our mobile society, I did lose contact with about fifteen percent of the kids and mothers who began with the project. The children I have been able to follow have given me a moving visual record of the marvel of growing up.
Giova’s mother-to-be at 39 weeks
Giova: three months old with her mom.
Giova at one year
Giova at two.