My time in the NFT space has been brief but it has introduced me to a myriad of talented artists and photographers. Within this space, I have found myself in awe of a specific kind of photographer that displays a vulnerability in their work that has utterly gripped me. Today, I will be discussing the work of Lily Hatten, who is an Australian portrait photographer that specializes in capturing the intimacy and rawness of motherhood.
As a man, my scope of the nature of being a mother is limited, but I have been able to ascertain a level of insight just from intaking and experiencing her photographs. Through works of those like Lily Hatten (Mothers who open their families to the eyes of the public), We are able to peer into the window of something not only extremely special, but also paramount for all human life and that is the study of the first moments of life itself. So, it only compounds the importance of this kind of documentation through images, and through Lily's ability to note these integral moments of motherhood. The moments that we cherish so deeply. A mother caressing her child close to her bosom, siblings playing together in a creek, or child wailing due to being hungry for sustenance from their mother. These are the kind of experiences Lily has made it her profession to capture for her clients and for the admirers of her photography.
In an effort to learn more about Lily as a person, I took a deep dive into her website. I believe an artist’s website can teach a lot about them for it is an extension of the artist's vision for their work. The works they choose to display, how it is displayed, and so forth. The black and white images that graced the landing page spoke to me. This is a particular choice made by her that I adore. Only displaying black and white images here allows us to hone in on the story that is being told, without distraction. They tell a tale of softness and openness. They tell a tale of a dance between the eyes of a person who wades through delicate moments of life and captures them with finesse and with love. It is noted in Lily’s ‘About’ section about what drove her to begin documenting motherhood and there is no better motivator than one’s own personal experience. “It was the shock and awe of my transition to motherhood that drove me to portraiture…” She then goes on to describe how everything ripples out from birth and I couldn't agree more. These ripples all of us are engulfed in for the duration of our lives. Lily’s talent is to glide across the surface of these ripples with her camera and scoop the droplets of the delicate occasions that parenthood presents.
Lily’s keen eye requires an amount of trust between her and the mothers, fathers, and younglings that she documents that is not easily obtained. The level of trust imbued in the work suggests to me that these connections are the crux of it all. How does Lily connect with tenderness? with rawness? with truth? My questions are answered through the gaze of her lens and I am quite happy with what facts of life are presented to me. One fact in particular is that she does not shy away from the ugliness that can also be a byproduct of motherhood. Lily has a photograph that highlights this for the viewer. The photograph is entitled “Motherload” and I first experienced it on her Foundation page that houses some of her images as NFTs. This image has a caption that reads “A self portrait of my daughter and I, and a portrait of a disassociated mother-state.” I love that Lily is comfortable with showing us the doldrums or the dark days that our parents suffer from while nurturing us. The truth is that those dark emotions are just as important as the bright ones. If you’re going to document something I believe you should document objectively and wholly. Lily gives the viewer that in abundance and even goes as far to use herself and her child as the model to detail such a gripping and often debilitating emotion.
The best kind of photography is the kind that gives priceless insight through the documentation of moments of importance presented by the photographer. I am forever grateful for the insight that is provided to me by Lily Hatten’s photography. I will never be a mother or understand the intricacies of motherhood but I hope to one day have children of my own and I pray that I can meet fatherhood with the same tenderness and honesty that I have seen come from the likes of Lily Hatten and her photographs. As I mentioned earlier, I did a deep dive into Lily and her website and I wanted to end this discussion with a quote found on her website that I believe comes from the artist herself.
“Remember a moment– the smell of jasmine in the air, the warmth of the sun on your face and the feeling of your sweet babe’s sticky summer skin against yours, or the clasp of your lover’s hand. I craft images that you can feel, whispers of love and longing.”
These words carry the spirit of Lily and her artistic goals. Let these words linger within you, just as her images have lingered within me.
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