A young widowed father opening up about living with loss
Earlier this year a lovely man called Harry Borden turned up on my door step to take some pictures of my son and me. As one of the country’s leading portrait photographers, he’d heard about Jackson and me through a piece I’d written for The Guardian, a newspaper that regularly features his work. He wasn’t afraid to talk to about what had happened – in either his or my life – and we immediately got along. Jackson, on the other hand, wasn’t quite so ready to open up. He was deep in his phase of rejecting unfamiliar company, he was frequently tired and he didn’t much care for sharing my attention with other people.
Harry wasn’t phased though. As well as being a great photographer, he’s also a loving father. He has older kids and a son the same age as mine. Although I was a little disheartened by Jackson’s reaction to Harry’s company, I had no desire to push my son into doing anything that left him ill at ease. As an empathetic and caring father, Harry felt the same. He came back to visit again twice before my son was ready to really get involved. And I’m pleased that he did because I’m delighted and deeply touched by the results.
The reason Harry contacted me in the first place is because he has embarked on a project that celebrates men who are the primary carers for the children. His intention is to produce an exhibition that focuses on single dads and their kids. A number of other widowers who I’ve got to know through this blog have already particapted in the project, and the resulting shots I’ve seen so far are wonderful.
Not all of the men involved are widowed though; in fact Harry kicked off his project because of his divorce. Here he explains a little more about his single dad project:
‘The year that followed my divorce was the most difficult of my life. Overwhelmed by panic, despair and confusion, the hardest thing for me was the possibility of it having a corrosive effect on my children. However, through acceptance, forgiveness and love of my ex, I found a way to celebrate our time together and truly become friends. Although involved in my children’s lives, I am not the main carer. This project aims to celebrate the men who are. My intention is to stage an exhibition and ultimately produce a book. Every participant will get a print and will, I hope, enjoy the process of being photographed. My approach is very low-key. Just using available light, a film camera and a tripod. If you’re a single dad and interested in being photographed, please get in touch.’
Here are some of the shots Harry captured of Jackson and me. If you would like to get involved email firstname.lastname@example.org.