While Magnum photographer Christopher Anderson experienced the intense joy of new life and fatherhood with the birth of his first child, a son, his father was diagnosed with lung cancer. With life and death so close to each other, it seemed obvious to Anderson to explore the bliss of life and tragedy of death with his camera. The result is a photobook titled Son. Says Anderson about the moving work: “These photographs are an organic response to an experience that is at the same time the most unique and the most universal of experiences: the birth of a child… Through my son, my role as the son took on new meaning and my senses were hypertuned to the evidence of my own life passing.”
The 96 pages are a strong personal account of a photographer whose distinctions include the Robert Capa Gold Medal, two World Press Photo awards and a Pulitzer Prize nomination. Mostly known for his work from conflict zones around the world, the birth of his son changed everything. Anderson turned away from war photography and began to be drawn to more intimate observations.
He doesn’t need the headlines any longer. With the birth of his son, and the failing of his father’s health, he began shooting life at home. Though he didn’t have the intention or idea that he was actively creating “a body of work,” the resulting images from this time period strike hard at universal themes of the cyclical nature of life and death.
In photographing his own life, Anderson shows intense sensitivity, revelling in the beauty of experiences which are both personal and universal. After many years of witnessing the blood and tears of others, Anderson today says, “Emotion or feeling is really the only thing about pictures I find interesting. Beyond that it is just a trick.”
For more on Anderson and his most true-to-life photo project, GUP Magazine has an extensive interview.
You can order “Son” from Amazon.