Before Self-Consciousness
by Laurie Swope

project STATEMENT

As a photographer, I have been dreading the self-consciousness that comes with my children’s impending adolescence. One of my greatest joys has been to watch my two sons passionately explore their world and realize their intrinsic goals–such as tasting fresh snow or feeling like a superhero or running spontaneously through a garden–without the limits of self-consciousness or the pressures of expected behavior in society. As they begin to tread into the self-conscious realm of adolescence, and I can see the beginning traces in these photographs, I have come to understand how free they have been.

This ephemeral freedom makes me wonder about my extrinsic motivations and convoluted goals.
How drastically are my decisions and ambitions tied to what I think other people think?
How much does self-consciousness dictate my decisions, influence my life’s path, and steer my sense of what is right and what is wrong?

We are all touched by innocent and sentimental images of childhood, though perhaps these images are actually sparking a longing for our loss of personal freedom. These images of childhood bring to mind the self-consciousness that has lead to the societal conformity and emotionally binding behavior ithat so many of us have become entrenched in as adults.

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