The Image: Cynthia Henebry, Untitled (Lizzey in the classroom)

© Cynthia Henebry, Untitled (Lizzey in the classroom), 2013

For about a year now, I have been photographing children whose parents are divorced, in each of the homes in which they live as well as in other spaces they commonly inhabit. For now I have chosen to work with girls who look like me and like each other, and who are about the age I was when my parents divorced. The similarities I recognize are as much about their internal qualities as their external ones, and I can usually identify a girl I want to photograph within seconds of noticing her. The photographs function as a form of self portraiture, a way of expressing things now that I couldn't express then. At the same time, the process is a true collaboration with the girls, and a way for them to express themselves as well. The process of working with a view camera enhances this, and encourages a slow and meditative pace in the making of the picture. With the right subject, it feels clear that we both get something out of making the picture.

While I am using the construct of photographing in and around divorced homes, I am aware that the framework of this project is just that: a method of accessing what I am really interested in, which is the internal process of self reflection and reverie. I want to understand how an external fracture like divorce affects the very internal process of identity formation and an even deeper sense of self knowledge. In The Poetics of Reverie, Gaston Bachelard writes, "Those original solitudes, the childhood solitudes, leave indelible marks on certain souls. Their entire life is sensitized for poetic reverie, for a reverie which knows the price of solitude. Childhood knows unhappiness through man. In solitude, it can relax its aches. When the human world leaves him in peace, he feels like the son of the cosmos. And thus, in his solitudes, from the moment he is master of his reveries, the child knows the happiness of dreaming which will later be the happiness of the poets." The photographs in this series express the tension and necessary relationship between inner turmoil and inner peace that Bachelard speaks of, and in portraits, landscapes, and still lifes, seek to explore the internal cosmos of the child.

Like all of the portraits, Untitled (Lizzey in the classroom) is a combined effort between the subject and myself. I decided where she would sit, moved the furniture, and cracked open the blinds just a bit. She found the posture that felt just right, and fell into the expression you see in the picture. As always, we sat for awhile in silence before I made the shot, waiting for the moment to unfold.

The untied shoelace and broken cookie on the floor were the perfect accidents I only noticed later.

- Cynthia Henebry