A personal story….
One of my clients asked me the other day where the name ‘Echo’ came from and it struck me that she was the very first person to ever ask me that question since I began my business 5 years ago. The word Echo is really personal to me as it takes me back to when I lost my Dad to skin cancer in 1996. In the September of 1995 I had just started a Fine Art degree in Birmingham and the battle that my Dad had fought for over 5 years was really wearing him down. He passed away in the February of ’96 and I was 20 years old, and devastated. We had always been very close and after he died I struggled to come to terms with that immense loss.
Please tread softly
My three year degree course became a journey through grief where I used ‘making things’ to convey the feelings I couldn’t describe. I remember vividly one sculpture I made which was after a study trip to the beach. It was a long piece of driftwood with nails banged along the length so they were sticking out. Then my vision was to balance small pebbles, one on each nail. The thing was that the driftwood was balanced on top of two pillars and every time someone walked into the room the floorboards would vibrate, causing the pebbles to fall down. Time and time again I would replace the pebbles until at last they were all in line – for only a few brief moments before some would fall again. I put a sign on the pillar saying ‘Please tread softly’ and so with the pebbles on the floor the sculpture became a kind of symbol for how hopeless and futile I was feeling at that time
An Echo in Time
I then moved into working with sound – and the idea of separating the sound from the object that was creating it. For example I had a record player spinning and playing a record but the speaker was far away in another room. They were connected but also totally disconnected. My final piece of work was a record that I had cast into lead (it was one of my Dad’s favourites Buddy Holly, True Love Ways) and it was spinning slowly on a motor but with no stylus or speaker at all. It kind of spoke all those feelings for me and was almost uncomfortable to look at, at the time. I called that piece of work ‘Echo’.
Echoes, memories and moments captured forever
For me the word Echo is a memory, a disconnected but connected vibration of the past. Photography strikes me as exactly that – an Echo of a moment in your life, your baby’s life, your family’s life. I think the reason I choose to photograph newborns is that I realise how fleeting those first moments are and that they are so easily overlooked when you are busy adjusting to being a new parent. I remember when I was a new mum a complete stranger walked up to me in the street and asked me how old my baby was. When I said three weeks he told me with some conviction (!) to “treasure every moment as they grow so fast.” At the time every day felt like lasted a week so I didn’t really get it – I thought he was a bit odd to be honest! Now that my children are 7 and 4 I totally get what he was trying to tell me and I am so grateful for the photographic memories I have of their little lives so far. And when I cajole new mums into having their portrait taken with their new baby I’m making sure they are part of their child’s photographic journey.