Babysitting Photos pt.2 On the Ground Floor

Babysitting Photographs Studies VII
Part II: On the Ground Floor 

Click on images to enlarge
Part I : Sleepy Baby Stroller Views and Dreamscapes
Part II : On the Ground Floor Babysitting Photographs 
Part III : Symmetrical Babysitting Photographs
Part IV : Commentaries & Epilogue

The phrase "on the ground" is often used in association with war reporting.  It can mean being in a position to view things up close in a given place or situation.  

The photographs in this second part of the Babysitting project complement those presented in part one, which is divided into two major sections: the "stroller views," and the "dreamscapes."  The stroller views depict what our 13 month old grand daughter, Claire, might have seen as she was going off to sleep for a nap in her stroller.  Those images look outward and upward, at walls and ceilings and the things upon them.  The "dreamscape" photographs, depictions of an inward, Imaginal world, are relatively abstract and impressionistic compared to the stroller views.

In this second part of the Babysitting project, the point of view of the photographs is that of the babysitter, yours truly.  The images present a rather personal, close-up view of the things and spaces on the ground floor of Claire's--and her mom and dad's--house.  About half of the twenty images are looking downward at things.

As I explained in my introduction to part one, a recording of the Siddha Yoga mantra was playing quietly throughout the day as we cared for our grand daughter.  When Claire napped, I napped; and  as I listened for the sounds of Claire's awakening, I was also hearing the soothing, graceful sounds of the mantra.  On those rare days when Claire took an extra long nap, and I felt rested and refreshed from my own nap, I would photograph.  I would walk quietly throughout the several rooms on the ground floor of the house and take pictures as I listened to the mantra repeating over and over again.  I was in something of a meditative state when I made the Babysitting photographs presented here and in part one.

Letting Go : No Thinking
Claire would look closely and intensely at things.  She would study a thing for a while, and when she was finished with it she would simply let it go . . .  One minute she was gently touching a thing, examining it, playing with it, perhaps chewing on it, giving it her full conscious attention, and then, in some next unpredictable moment the object was in a "free fall" toward the ground.  The toy, book, bottle, cracker or other bit of food would land on the ground in no particular way or place, for once Claire lost interest in something, it was babished from her consciousness.  She had moved on to the next thing.

I was sometimes surprised to see how spontaneously she would drop an object.  There was something humorous about the way she did it at times, but on the other hand it always seemed like the most natural, unpremeditated act, an act that did not seem to involve a thought or a feeling.  I have seen her come close to an act that might approximate a "tossing" an object after losing interest in it, but even those rare incidences,  I was unable to discern an attitude attached to the action.  The object was simply being given up . . . as if to the gods.

I loved watching Claire reach out to get hold of something.  She moved her hand and arm so slowly, deliberately, carefully . . . with tremendous concentration, and with what appeared to be a truly authentic interest.  Clearly she was actively building a body of experiential knowledge from the things she held close, touched and examined.  Each object was of great importance to her, at least for the moment.

The Ground Floor
After a full day of intense play the house would surely have ended up looking like a battleground if my wife, Gloria and I hadn't tried to keep up with Claire's ongoing transformation of her ground level domestic territory.  ~  There is an upstairs to the house, but that was visited only for special occasions, when extraordinary diversionary tactics seemed called for.  Upstairs was a much more private space, occupied by Claire and her parents, mostly at night.  ~  And there is a full basement in the house, but I never took Claire down there. It was too cold, the light was uninviting, and there were too many things that would have presented a danger to Claire.

The kitchen and the laundry room were favorite places on the ground floor, and we visited them often, but we moved through all of the ground floor rooms multiple times throughout each day.  The kitchen could get profoundly messy in no time at all.  Food bits on Claire's highchair tray would become a terrifying looking conglomeration, and inevitably, spontaneously, much of the food on the tray would end up on the kitchen floor.  Gloria and I swept and mopped the kitchen floor many times daily.

I could never take pictures of the food left on the highchair tray, though I thought of trying several times.  And it was impossible to photograph Claire dropping things;  she was much too quick.  You can see for yourself what I did photograph; certainly this project was not an attempt to report or document my babysitting experience with Claire.  Our time spent with our grand daughter seemed to me too precious to interrupt with the camera's presence.  I would only make photographs when Claire was taking her longer-than-usual naps, and almost never photographed Claire when I was babysitting. I felt it was my duty as a babysitter and as a grand parent to pay full attention to Claire, to help her and protect her;  of course I could not do that and make photographs at the same time.  Besides, Claire's parents were always making wonderful pictures and videos of our beautiful grand daughter.

Studies for Something Larger
For the most part my photographs are not about the things I photographed; rather, they are little epiphanies of seeing and feeling, brief moments of recognition . . .  of the sacred presence in the light, in the space, in the things pictured.   The photographs unveil a kind of interior meaning that for the most part have no sayable counterparts; that is to say, their meaning transcends description.

I photographed intuitively, without thinking.  The light usually directed me to what and how to photograph.  Thus, these are little pictures, preparatory studies . . .  studies for something greater, something larger; perhaps that which will constitute a whole--greater than the some of its parts--when the project is completed.

Musical - Imaginal Worlds  
The Babysitting photographs are very much in the tradition of the original miniature Studies photographs I made back in the mid 1990's through the year 2000.  Back then my photography was being inspired by recordings of miniature piano pieces.  Some of the music I most loved or admired were extremely short in duration, perhaps less than a minute or two.  I was fascinated by the concentrated, pithy, direct way a composer would get to the essential sound world, or musical idea of a piece with only a few carefully constructed notes and spaces.  I wanted to make photographs that visually succeeded in the same way that these brief musical compositions succeeded.  The music seemed to unfold naturally, spontaneously, as if emerging out of silence; then after briefly making its point, succinctly, all of a sudden, the piece was gone.  It had dissolved back into silence . . . as if given up to the gods.

Coincidentally (synchronistically), while I was writing this introduction I was reminded of the music of Scriabin.  A radio announcer had mentioned Scriabin's name, and later that day I started feeling a strong desire to hear Scriabin's short piano pieces again.  An old love had become reawakened.  Now I cannot stop listening to this fascinating, haunting, and at times terrifying music.  Perhaps I will consider the prospects of doing yet another series of photographs inspired by music.  Scriabin is a possibility, perhaps Erik Satie.

My experience of babysitting was transformed by the act of photographing in those sustained moments of silence when my grand daughter slept with the grace-filled lullaby-like sounds of the Siddha Yoga mantra playing softly in the background.  The sounds of the mantra seemed to pervade everything I was seeing in the house as I photographed.  ~  There has been a merging of my creative process in photography and my practices of Siddha Yoga meditation.  Together they have helped me to see, to experience all the things of my life with a more fully opened heart.  

Once the photographs are made, another way of going deeper into the image and into one's heart is through the process of contemplation.  In the next, third part of this project I will present four-fold symmetrical transformations of selected photographs from parts one and two of the Babysitting project.  The ritual-like act of transforming a photograph in this way is (for me) a form of contemplation; I will write more about this in the next part's introduction.

Babysitting Photographs
Part II 
On the Ground Floor

Babysitting Photographs     Part 2    "On the Ground Floor"     Image #1      Toys With Eyes

Babysitting Photographs     Part 2    "On the Ground Floor"    Image #2      Glowing Light On the Blackboard

Babysitting Photographs     Part 2    "On the Ground Floor"     Image #3      Green Balloon

Babysitting Photographs     Part 2    "On the Ground Floor"    Image #4      Claire's Leftover Banana_

Babysitting Photographs     Part 2    "On the Ground Floor"    Image #5      A Pot of Tofu Miso Soup 

Babysitting Photographs     Part 2    "On the Ground Floor"    Image #6     Pack'N Play (Claire's stroller is in the background) 

Babysitting Photographs     Part 2    "On the Ground Floor"     Image #7      Looking Inside the Pack'N Play

Babysitting Photographs     Part 2    "On the Ground Floor"    Image #8      Mirror In A Corner

Babysitting Photographs     Part 2    "On the Ground Floor"    Image #9      Chinese Chair In A Corner 

Babysitting Photographs     Part 2    "On the Ground Floor"    Image #10      Couch Pillows

Babysitting Photographs     Part 2    "On the Ground Floor"    Image #11      Claire's Handsudges On the Surface of a Mirror

Babysitting Photographs     Part 2    "On the Ground Floor"    Image #12      The Birthday Balloon's Ribbon

Babysitting Photographs     Part 2    "On the Ground Floor"    Image #13      Hallway Light Switch

Babysitting Photographs     Part 2    "On the Ground Floor"     Leaning Table Lamp and Shadow

Babysitting Photographs     Part 2    "On the Ground Floor"    Image #15      Separator Screen Leaning Against the Wall

Babysitting Photographs     Part 2    "On the Ground Floor"     Image #16      Artificial Flowers On Top of the Electric Piano

Babysitting Photographs     Part 2    "On the Ground Floor"    Image #17      Electric Piano Keyboard and the Red Light

Babysitting Photographs     Part 2    "On the Ground Floor"    Image #18      Looking Under the Electric Piano Keyboard

Babysitting Photographs     Part 2    "On the Ground Floor"     Image #19      Swivel Chair and Shadow

Babysitting Photographs   Part 2   "On the Ground Floor"   Image #20    
Felt Marker Board (detail), with "Claire!" written on it, and Light
Reflections, and Drawings of Stars, Hearts, Squares & Circles 


This project page was completed and posted 
on my Welcome Page in the 
"Recently Added" section
May, 2016


Click on images to enlarge
Part I : Sleepy Baby Stroller Views and Dreamscapes
Part II : On the Ground Floor Babysitting Photographs 
Part III : Symmetrical Babysitting Photographs
Part IV : Commentaries & Epilogue

The Studies Projects     
Here is the list of projects that belong together under the Studies category.  The projects are listed from the earliest originating project to the present.

Studies 1994-2000
Studies II : Monk's Quirky Music 1994-2000
Studies III: Color Photographs 2006 - June 2013
Still Life Studies IV 2013
The Creative Process Studies V 2014
The Space Between Color and Black&white Studies VI 2014
The Babysitting Photographs Studies VII 2016

Welcome Page  to The Departing Landscape website which includes the complete hyperlinked listing of my online photography projects dating back to the 1960's, my resume, contact information, and more.