I remember the first days after my daughter’s birth well. Not so much the objective details – although I do have a vivid memory of coffee cups, wet wipes and impossibly tiny socks strewn about our house – but rather, I can recall exactly how I felt within those extraordinary, early moments. And I have never quite been able to recapture that exquisite feeling of calm; the unassailable, sublime sense that, with my babe in arms, all is right with the world.
But portrait photographer Jenny Lewis has endeavoured to preserve that fleeting phenomenon between mother and child, in her 5-year project and book, One Day Young. The result is a breathtaking series of images that resonate with incredible, unaffected beauty.
The bookbound collection of 40 photographic portraits of women and their newborns – taken just 24 hours after birth, is impartial to the ages, backgrounds and experiences of its subjects; and from home births to hospital births, from first-time mothers to mothers-of-four, from teenage mothers to those in their forties, there is a distinctive theme of strength, poise and serenity that suffuses every shot. Lewis says: “I find the collection defiant and beautiful, challenging the expected vision of those first 24 hours; a pure celebration of what it means to be a mother.”
“It’s really quite simple”, explains Lewis, “I wanted to tell a story about the strength and resilience of women post-childbirth that I feel goes largely unacknowledged in today’s world. To reassure women that childbirth is ok; yes it’s painful but it is a positive pain, one that has purpose and is just part of the journey, a rite of passage into motherhood. To make visible other emotions that are far more powerful: the joy, the overwhelming love and the triumphant victory every new mother feels. In my mind this is the supportive message we should be passing on to future generations…”
Through Lewis’ lens, the viewer is made privy to the private, undisturbed world of mother and baby; a surreal oneness between the two beings is utterly captivating.
One Day Young is, quite literally, a snapshot of a perfect, magical moment in time – often undocumented, but never forgotten.
Buy the book at hoxtonminipress.com