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“One Day Young” celebrates women and their newborn babies the first 24 hours of their lives

by | Apr 9, 2015

By Dave Andrusko

newmom3reJenny Lewis is a very accomplished British photographer who took on an usual–and ultimately very rewarding–project. “One Day Young” is her new book that includes 40 of the 150 portraits she took in the homes of new mothers the first 24 hours following their baby’s birth.

As Lewis told David Rosenberg of Slate.com, prior to giving birth the first time, “the only stories she heard about giving birth were terrifying.”

“It was like ‘Oh, God, how am I going to get through this?’ ” she recalled.

But Lewis, the mother herself, had a very positive experience in delivering her own two children. Caroline Bologna of the Huffington Post explains her thinking.

“Having had two children, I felt the transition into motherhood was a moment that was somewhat invisible from our culture and art,” Lewis told The Huffington Post, adding, “I knew if I had of seen images like this before I had my children I would have felt reassured and supported.” So, the artist decided to create these images herself, showcasing “the triumphant mother as a symbol of encouragement and reassurance” and “the strength, resilience and overwhelming joy of that first day.”

How did she recruit?

Lewis began the series by hanging leaflets around the London borough of Hackney where she lives, offering a free print to anyone willing to pose for her should she happen to be home a day after delivering her baby. She wanted the work to be as organic as possible so she didn’t pre screen anyone.

Much of Rosenberg’s delightful story helps the reader understand why over the course of five years women would allow a perfect stranger in their home at such an intrinsically private time. To begin with, once she had taken the photo, she’d post it online. And then the project took on a life of its own, so to speak.

“What got them to do it was seeing the other women,” she told Rosenberg. “They could see it was comfortable and not intrusive, that the people were happy and by seeing the other people they could feel empowered and then they wanted to be a part of it, to pass that message on, and it just sort of snowballed.”

You can see nine of these new moms here. Their countenance is a delight to study. Lewis explains what she sees beautifully:

“It was that confidence in their gaze that I found fascinating. … It just has so much strength and not how maybe you would think of a mother who just had a baby a few hours earlier. These women are so fierce they won’t drop their gaze, they stare out at you and make you look back at them and I found that amazing; that gaze was right at me: piercing, protective, full of love, no self consciousness. Letting a stranger in to their own home at that moment but they still have that strength in their gaze I thought wow, that’s incredible.”

Lewis told Bologna,” I hope they enjoy this celebration of women, feel empowered and absorb the love and joy in the images.”

Categories: Infants