Yes I do know that the photographs you create are like your children. You're not supposed to love any of them more than the others. I have two little boys and they both have moments where I want to strangle the living daylights out of them!
But I'll admit it. I do have favourites and this is one of the all-time loves of my life. This fleeting moment. In some ways it was set up, but in most ways it wasn't and that's why I love it.
I was photographing a book on the Japanese cherry blossom festival for Weldon-Owen Publishers in New Zealand. It was a great project and a bit further along I'll post a series of images showing how the assignment took shape.
Anyway I had been to the park to photograph my family (my wife's sister and her kids) under the cherry blossom trees but I needed some more shots of my niece Haruna by herself.
The cherry blossoms happen in Sapporo in May, which coincides with the Children's Day Festivities - marked by giant carp flags put up by many municipal councils. I took Haruna down to a local river across the road from her apartment with the idea of photographing her in the groves of cherry blossoms.
We did some lovely stuff in amongst the flowers and I had left my backpack down the path a bit. While I went to retrieve it I turned around and there was Haruna jumping up and grabbing at these flags flying above. There was a really strong wind so these flags were flying all over the place, forming different compositions.
I started photographing Haruna from where my backpack was on the ground, with a telephoto lens and gradually swapped to shorter lenses as I got closer. Eventually I ended up photographing her from the bottom of a small bank, looking up at her, with a wide-angle lens. Again this was in the days of film so I shot a lot, not really knowing what I had captured.
As it turned out this was the only one of the photos were the flags were lined up so perfectly. In a line up around the top of the frame above her head. Serendipity. Chance. Good luck. Call it what you will but it's a documentary photographer's muse.
Even though I had set up the situation by the river, Haruna had been inspired to jump for the flags and the wind had kept them in the right position for me. A simple moment that expresses so beautifully a child's joy to be alive.
And that's why I'm not ashamed to say that this is one of my all-time favourite images.