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Acknowledging a Daughter’s Passage to Adulthood in Photographs

“Why don’t you photography me anymore?”, Siân Davey’s teenage daughter, Martha, asked her. The question came in response to the amount of time Davey spent photographing Martha’s younger sister, Alice.

So, Davey turned her camera toward 16-year-old Martha, beginning the work “at a time when a child is on that cusp of being and becoming a woman…before the child leaves and the young woman stands on her own to meet the world,” writes Davey about the work. In Martha, an upcoming monograph published by Trolley Books, Davey captures her adolescent daughter in the midst of friends, interacting with her sister Alice, and spending time alone during a “period of transition” before the weight of society’s expectations dominate, and eventually eliminate, the freedom of childhood.

Davey acknowledges that the work is also about a mother’s relationship with her daughter. “The exchange of looks between us,” writes Davey, “begins to shift as she tries to define her own sense of self, to decide who she is becoming.”

The work also recognizes how the nature of friendships often change with age. While Martha’s circle of friends are a safeguard, they are likewise a learning ground where Martha begins to make sense of intimacy, love and belonging outside of her immediate family. “And here, too quickly,” Davey resolves, “the idyll becomes infused with all the tensions of adulthood.”

Martha by Siân Davey is available for pre-order on the Trolley Books website.

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Photographer Sian Davey’s Personal Look at Raising a Child with Down Syndrome (for PDN subscribers; login required)

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