On Seeing, A Journal. #332

“The Growing Up Years of Annalisa Plumb.”

January 22, 2020

Typically, I am at work on several projects at once. For the past three decades my longest-lasting endeavor, and the one closest to my heart, has been to follow almost 200 hundred children, some starting when they were newborns, and others when they were about six or seven, making annual studio portraits and asking them, once they learned to read and write, to write answers to a series of questions, a kind of diary, about their lives, their feelings, their hopes, their regrets.

In some cases, the exploration began before they were born when I made portraits of their pregnant mothers, the images of which were published in my book “With Child.”

Many of the kids I first photographed when they were newborns. This work has also been published: Newborn.

My enthusiasm for this project and curiosity about the mysterious process of “growing up” has not abated over the years. The participants are not kids any more; my affection, admiration and respect for them has only grown. The annual portrait and diary sessions continue to this day.

I have watched them grow, and captured how they’ve changed through the years. Some of this work has appeared in museum exhibitions, magazines and two large scale monographs. But the majority of what I’ve called “Growing Up” remains unpublished.

After following these children, many on a yearly basis, into their twenties, I am ready to publish, to show through the portraits I’ve made and the words they have written, how they have grown into a remarkable group of young adults.  It’s impossible to be objective about one’s work but I do feel strongly that the Growing Up project is as meaningful as anything I’ve ever done in large part because the participants contributed significantly and worked at being as honest as possible in writing their annual diaries. The stories they tell and the emotions they express are revealing, heartening, delightful.

Permission was signed by the parents of each and every child every year, and by the participants themselves once they turned 18. In addition, we have now sent each participant copies of all of their writings and edited photographs and have received their full permission to publish and post.

I plan on explaining more of the details of this ongoing project in future Journals of “ON SEEING.”  For now, let’s look at the fascinating 17 years in the life of Annalisa Plumb, a young girl, over the course of my project, who has become an educated, mindful young woman and actress.

AP: 8 years

AP: 10 years

AP: 11 years

AP: 13 years

AP: 14 years

AP: 16 years

AP: 19 years

AP: 20 years

AP: 21 years


AP: 24 years

Any comments or questions will help inform future commentary, explanation
and elucidation.