When the world shut down & lockdown started, I took on the temporary position of “teacher” to my children. It’s been a hard season for me, as it has been for a lot of us. I knew that I needed to continue to create, even though my ability to photograph my typical work came to a screeching halt.
Something my daughter, Harper, and I have always done together is discuss brilliant women in history. Over the years we’ve read story upon story of various strong females who have paved the way for us today, and who continue to stand up & make their voice heard. After a conversation Harper & I had during “home-school” one day, it occurred to me that we could work together on a project that would both teach her – and allow me to work out some creative energy.
Together we chose 20 women to recreate portraits of. There were a few ground-rules for our project (which all good creative projects need).
1. Since we were doing this during the Covid-19 quarantine, all photos had to be done at home. We did make one exception, which you’ll see clearly below, however were still able to be socially distant to make it happen (we were literally in the middle of nowhere).
2. We would only photograph her as women in other photographs. No paintings allowed, which limited the time-frame in which we picked our subjects from.
3. All images must be black and white – various tones were fine & I would match those as well as I could in post-processing.
4. All costumes had to be figured out from what we had at home. Again, with one small purchase (a crown from Amazon) – everything else came from within our home, or my mom who lives down the street. This made things extra tough, and also forced us to be more creative – which was a nice challenge to have.
Finally, Harper & I discussed at length what “cultural appropriation” was & why it was important to understand for this project. Two of Harper’s true heroes that she wanted me to photograph her as when we began, are Malala Yousafzai & Ruby Bridges. Although our intention in this project is clearly to respect the women we’re replicating portraits of, we would also never want to tread into the territory of anything that could seem remotely insensitive to religions or races. So while we were delicate in our choices, it’s important to note that we honored our female leaders from other races & cultures by discussing them at length, reading books, and watching films. While the images you see below are the creative side of our project, this was far more reaching than just the photos we made.
This project was a ton of work, and also a ton of fun. I couldn’t be more proud of my little Harp & the hunger she has to learn. I hope she always remembers this work we did together fondly, and more-so, that she carries a little piece of each of these amazing women in her heart as she grows.
(A quick quote from Harper under each photo – her summary of why each woman is important to her)
I wanted to make sure that Harper realized at the end of this project that while each of these women are incredible & did beautiful work, there’s an important piece to keep in mind.
We aren’t them. You aren’t them. You’re YOU. And that’s even more amazing.
I don’t know what is in store for her little life, but I know she’ll do big things. So we had to also take a photo of Harper as herself. In color because she is the most colorful human there is. She chose her outfit, activity & stance for this last photo – I just shot it.
I asked her what she would say to all the girls in the world if she could speak to them. Here’s what she said.