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Beyond the Frame: Emma Collins

By World Photography Organisation | 1 month 5 days ago

During a holiday last summer Emma Collins recognised a poignant moment between her two daughters. She tells us more about the tender portrait, which was shortlisted in the 2021 Alpha Female Award

The body language tells the story of a little sister looking up to her older sibling, hanging on tightly, not ready for change.

My work typically uses a documentary aesthetic to explore the changes in my own children, both within themselves and in their bonds with one another. This particular image is a portrait of my two daughters embracing. I initially intended the image to be a portrait of my older daughter. I noticed her sitting there, softly lit by a chink of light, so I spoke to her to gain eye contact. In this moment, my youngest daughter came into the room and as she nestled in next to her sister I felt the scene unfold into something more profound. I felt this moment encapsulated the shifting relationship of siblings as they journey from childhood to adolescence. As a mother I recognise this as a time of great change, my heart aches for the past and yet simultaneously swells with pride as I see a hint of the strong young women they are becoming. 


Their embrace is immediate in showing the emotional tie that binds them, intensified by the quiet, intimate atmosphere of the bedroom setting. The body language tells the story of a little sister looking up to her older sibling, hanging on tightly, not ready for change. In contrast, the steely stare and non-tactile posture of the older sister exhibits her independence, whilst still allowing herself to be held implying that she isn’t quite ready to leave the safety of her childhood world. Her turned back reinforces the idea of a juncture in their relationship, a metaphorical distance that grows between them despite their strong bond. 


I took this image in the summer of 2020, during that brief period of time when the Coronavirus seemed to be more under control in Europe and we were lucky enough to get away for a holiday abroad. We decided to do a road trip, off the beaten track to avoid crowds. The first place we stayed was a beautiful old farmhouse in the French Vosges mountains. It was here that I was inspired to take the photo. Sometimes you find yourself in a place that oozes potential. As soon as we arrived I knew. I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck prickle with excitement. Walking through the front door was like stepping back in time, every room untouched for decades and filled with beautiful old furniture and objets d’art. Each window clad with heavy wooden shutters keeping the air cool and dark. Shafts of light leaking through the gaps, softly illuminating everything in their path. 

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