On a recent afternoon, while sitting in my friend Erik’s living room sipping an adult beverage, I was flooded with a profound feeling of connection.
Erik’s five-year-old son was playing with my four-month-old daughter. Perhaps I’m a bit sentimental, the combination of a lack of sleep and being a new dad, or maybe it was just the effects of the cocktail, but I couldn’t help feeling a deep sense of life’s connective tissue and the passage of time.
You see, I remember meeting Erik like it was yesterday. We were just five years old in Mrs. Brown’s kindergarten class. Erik was playing with building blocks, no doubt using Pythagorean’s Theorem and complex geometry to build an architectural masterpiece. I introduced myself as much as a five-year-old can, and in an instant a forty-year connection was born. Now, all these years later, we sat together on a warm afternoon and watched his son Helix meet my daughter Elsa for the first time. Helix is exactly the age that Erik and I were when we first met. There on the floor, Elsa coos and grabs hold of Helix’s finger gripping it tightly. He giggles, amazed at this little human being. He leans close and tells her that he loves her.
Erik and I never really decided to be friends—we just are. Always have been, always will be. As I watch our children begin the connection anew, it isn’t so much friendship that comes to mind—it’s family.
In this spirit, we’re calling this new assignment “Finding Family.” What is family for you? Is it your brothers and sisters in arms, with bonds formed during a tour of duty in a distant land? Is it your foster brothers and sisters? Maybe family for you requires shared blood or a marriage certificate. Maybe family is more complicated for you—darker, more painful. Or do members of your family even have to be human?
As you begin photographing, we have a couple of suggestions. Feel free to take portraits, but don’t just show us who your family is—try to capture the special element that shows why they are family. You can also photograph your family in action, documenting the traditions and rituals that make your family special.
Good luck, and good shooting!