Photo Journal Monday: Tira Khan

Photo Journal Monday: Tira Khan

  No More Braids : My daughter was in 5th grade, and was brushing her hair (a favorite activity at the time). I noticed her old self-portraits on the wall. When she was younger she used to wear braids, but she never did anymore. I like the juxtaposition of her with her younger self. © Tira Khan

No More Braids: My daughter was in 5th grade, and was brushing her hair (a favorite activity at the time). I noticed her old self-portraits on the wall. When she was younger she used to wear braids, but she never did anymore. I like the juxtaposition of her with her younger self. © Tira Khan

Project: Growing Up Girl

I began photographing my three daughters because I wanted a portrait to hang on my living room wall. I envisioned them freshly bathed, dressed and happy, all at the same time. But in my house, that was an impossible trifecta. Instead, I began to photograph moments more authentic — when my girls were wrapped in their own thoughts, oblivious to me.

I saw my photographs as a way of studying the girls in their natural habitat, as a journalist might. Not wanting to bother them, I never asked my daughters to stop what they were doing, and they didn’t seem to mind me snapping away. More likely, I was too timid to ask them to pose.

  Beaumont Crescent : We were visiting the house where my father grew up in London. He had recently passed away and the girls were stay- ing in his old bedroom. The light was beautiful and I noticed that one daughter was pulling up her shirt, I think pinching non-existant fat. Her older sister observed her. © Tira Khan

Beaumont Crescent: We were visiting the house where my father grew up in London. He had recently passed away and the girls were stay- ing in his old bedroom. The light was beautiful and I noticed that one daughter was pulling up her shirt, I think pinching non-existant fat. Her older sister observed her. © Tira Khan

  After Camp : My daughter had just returned from overnight camp. The first thing she did when she got home was open her trunk, put on- gold lamé pants, and lie down on the floor. Who does that? © Tira Khan

After Camp: My daughter had just returned from overnight camp. The first thing she did when she got home was open her trunk, put on- gold lamé pants, and lie down on the floor. Who does that? © Tira Khan

Over the years, people would encourage me to photograph something more important, something that mattered beyond our four walls. But I found myself drawn to these moments when my daughters and my niece were introspective — perhaps I thought taking their photograph would lead me closer to their inner world. Children and adolescents have a seriousness about them that we, as a culture, sometimes forget. So I paid attention when not much was going on.

As the girls aged, I realized that these small moments added up to something much larger— the development of character, personality. I hope these photographs reveal growth, as the girls transition to a life beyond home and family. Now, as I feel more confident, they are more confident too. We see each other head-on, unapologetic in our flaws. Yet we are also, at times, more wary.

  13th Birthday : My niece turned 13 this spring and I was dying to go to her birthday party because I find that age so interesting. She let me come for about a 1/2 hour. At first I was disappointed be- cause the lighting was so dismal and kept moving from place to place. But then I noticed the light of the pool table, and her determination. She is wearing a birthday crown. © Tira Khan

13th Birthday: My niece turned 13 this spring and I was dying to go to her birthday party because I find that age so interesting. She let me come for about a 1/2 hour. At first I was disappointed be- cause the lighting was so dismal and kept moving from place to place. But then I noticed the light of the pool table, and her determination. She is wearing a birthday crown. © Tira Khan

  Road Trip : We were in the car on our way to drop the girls at a two-week summer camp. I turned around from the passenger seat and noticed how they were all casually intertwined -- amongst themselves along with the dog. © Tira Khan

Road Trip: We were in the car on our way to drop the girls at a two-week summer camp. I turned around from the passenger seat and noticed how they were all casually intertwined -- amongst themselves along with the dog. © Tira Khan

 Left Foot Right Foot: These were my daughter's shoes thrown haphazardly in her bin. I saw them in the sunlight and was struck how the juxtaposition of the shoes represented the dichotomy of her personality. More or less. © Tira Khan

Left Foot Right Foot: These were my daughter's shoes thrown haphazardly in her bin. I saw them in the sunlight and was struck how the juxtaposition of the shoes represented the dichotomy of her personality. More or less. © Tira Khan

As Susan Sontag says: “Photographs are really experiences captured.” I feel like these photos captured early family life and who the girls have become. The childhood “magic” has morphed into teen melodrama and more. It’s now a different kind of energy. We grew up together.

  Where the Laundry Lives : Perhaps the scariest laundry room ever. For more than 10 years, I hated going down to the basement to do the laundry. The room was dark, and about 20 degrees colder than the rest of the house. My mother always bugged me to move the machines to another floor, but there was nowhere else to put them. Needless to say, the laundry often languished in the basement. © Tira Khan

Where the Laundry Lives: Perhaps the scariest laundry room ever. For more than 10 years, I hated going down to the basement to do the laundry. The room was dark, and about 20 degrees colder than the rest of the house. My mother always bugged me to move the machines to another floor, but there was nowhere else to put them. Needless to say, the laundry often languished in the basement. © Tira Khan

  Party Girls : We were visiting family in India. It was our first time there, and my daughters and niece didn’t know anyone -- the people were different, the food was different. They squeezed together on the couch during the party and just watched what was going on.

Party Girls: We were visiting family in India. It was our first time there, and my daughters and niece didn’t know anyone -- the people were different, the food was different. They squeezed together on the couch during the party and just watched what was going on.

  The End of Summer : I took this photo in August, at the end of our summer vacation. My daughters and two cousins had been together for about a week on Cape Cod at their grandmother’s house. That night everyone was tired and interested in doing their own thing, and yet they seemed to want to be together. They were quiet -- not much conversation, just body language: connected by touching. © Tira Khan

The End of Summer: I took this photo in August, at the end of our summer vacation. My daughters and two cousins had been together for about a week on Cape Cod at their grandmother’s house. That night everyone was tired and interested in doing their own thing, and yet they seemed to want to be together. They were quiet -- not much conversation, just body language: connected by touching. © Tira Khan

For more information about Tira Khan, click here.

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