Although more accustomed to celebrity subjects such as chef Jamie Oliver, the Beastie Boys or actress Keira Knightley, London-based photographer Jenny Lewis displays as much skill and a keen sensitivity for human interest themes. She does exactly that in One Day Young, a poignant photo collection showing the already loving and unbreakable bond between mother and child, a mere 24 hours after giving birth.
While it is an extremely intimate and personal subject, all the women who participated were previously unknown to Lewis. They were respondents to a call Lewis made at the London borough of Hackney. Lewis’ aim was to capture the extraordinary bond, strength, warmth and love between mother and child, which she achieves in every tender image. It is a subject close to her heart, being a product of a home birth.
Seeing the collection of photographs shows the wide spectrum of emotions only mothers will ever know. However, despite this time of discovery and sentiment, one common thread runs through each mother. “Motherhood really brings people together, it doesn’t matter how much money you’ve got, or what your job is, you’ve just done this amazing thing so everyone feels joyous and proud,” said a reflective Lewis.
As a mother, Lewis is an advocate of natural childbirth, having two natural deliveries: one in a hospital pool and the other at home. Experiencing this compelled her to create One Day Young. “I felt I had a duty to women to let them know it could be ok to offer images of support and encouragement. I had grown up knowing nothing surrounding birth except pain and fear until I came across Ina May’s birth stories by chance. Just reading those stories made me realize that if they could do it so could I. I felt supported and encouraged by women I had never met and wanted to pass the same message onto other women, not being a writer a series of images seemed to be the way to do this”
While she felt she had to impart what she could from her own personal experiences, Lewis also found some new perspectives and insights as she shot the collection. “Having photographed all sorts of people for years, I was struck by the lack of self consciousness in these portraits. It really made me think about all the barriers people put up and the masks they hide behind when they are faced with a camera. These are, by far, the most natural portraits I have ever taken. The women are just themselves with nothing to prove, they have such a sense of pride and strength.”
See this touching, honest celebration of motherhood, called One Day Young, here.