Mother and Child   Leave a comment

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography

There is no doubt, that the special bond between mother and child is universal. This is not more evident than when a child is held by their mother and her gentle embrace supports them in her arms, the security of that embrace reflected in the child’s face.

The beauty of any art form is the discovery of something new and unexpected, and the revelation of how that art communicates in a way words alone cannot. I had several such discoveries while in Peru I will share in the coming blog posts.

Today, I wanted to focus my thoughts on the mothers of the remote Shipibo village in the Amazon rain forest, that I encountered while in Peru.

Discovery #1

Without exception, the mothers I encountered who were holding their babies wanted to have them photographed. They often raised them to just below eye level and shielded much of their own image in favor of their child’s. This was puzzling to me. It is not entirely unusual, but I sensed that the preservation of the image of their child was more important than the image itself. It was a record of their existence, that I believe they intuitively understood carried with it the permanence of longevity.

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography

Discovery #2

The beauty of a “real smile”.

It is understood, at least in North American culture, that when a camera is pointed in your direction you should smile. It is an odd custom we have developed. Many a family portrait has been taken, with one or more unhappy family members forcing a smile; a smile not able to mask the truth in the image. The people in this remote village were not so trained. Indeed, often, I found myself smiling from behind the lens in the hopes of coaxing even the most subtle of smiles. Ironically, it worked, and the results were less about posing and more an honest response to my delight in taking their pictures.

The children in particular were fascinated with seeing their own image in the displays on the back of the many digital cameras being handed around while we were there. They too were not “programmed” to smile, so when they did it was genuine.

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography

I have always had a thing about smiley eyes. I used that expression once while we were in the village and one of our teens pointed out this was a favorite term on the Next Top Model TV show. How unfortunate, that once again we should package and program the simple idea of how eyes can reflect a smile, sometimes even more so than how lips can. Despite that disappointment, the image above is one of my favorites. The intensity of the mothers eyes looking at me (and not the lens) reflects the sincerity of the moment.  It was a moment in time I was blessed to me able to capture and to subsequently share here as a small gift to her.

How ironic that these pictures should find themselves on the world wide web. These mothers may never know, but these images now reside in the worlds largest and longest lasting archive, a lasting record of them and their children and the tender moments they share as mother and child.


Posted June 27, 2012 by Paul Coffin in People, Photography, Portrait, Travel

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