2 minute read
Bess Adler’s Documentary Challenge
Bess has selected Christina Cooper as her winning creator for a delicate and emotive family scene
For some creatives, their passions are clear from day one. For others, an interest forms as if out of nowhere. Christina Cooper’s love for photography was no secret, but the genre of documentary was more of an unexpected revelation.
“My interest in documentary photography has always been with me, though I didn’t realize that’s what I was doing,” she reveals. “I had quite a few musical friends growing up, and loved to photograph behind the scenes of the projects they were working on. I began to home in on the documentary aspect more notably when my daughter was born about seven years ago. I wanted to remember little moments as she grew up. As time went on, I started documenting my family life more in everyday scenes – mostly to preserve family history – and incorporated this technique into my business of wedding and family photography.”
Fittingly, Christina didn’t need to look further than her favorite subjects when it came to her entry. It’s an important reminder that even deeply personal imagery can speak to a viewer when crafted with expertise.
“The Piano Lesson features my daughter and my mother. It was a moment that happened organically one evening,” Christina continues. “My mother was playing the piano and my kids sat at her feet. I made photos as they watched her play, and soon the scene changed as my daughter got up to play with her. Initially, I took a wider view, but decided to move closer for a detailed frame, noticing their hands on the keys and how different they were as they played side by side. I focused on their movements and documented this photo.”
In a moment loaded with sentiment, Christina couldn’t help but consider her own place.
“In truth, it reminded me of when I was young. My mother would allow me to sit at our piano while she taught me how to play songs,” she concludes. “My daughter’s hand felt easily interchangeable with the memory of my own. It was that feeling which allowed me to hit the shutter button when I did.”
By exhibiting her detailed advice and stirring emotions within her, Christina’s photograph had a lasting effect on Bess.
“I chose Christina’s photograph of the hands playing piano because it tells a strong story,” she notes. “When I look at this photo, I see intergenerational knowledge being exchanged, with a tender connection between the two hands. It is beautifully composed and moody, bringing me into the room and triggering a feeling of nostalgia. She chose a great moment to document this intimate detail.”