My documentary photo project “Father to Son” – says Kristen Schmid – explores the intense, complex and evolving relationship between my husband and our oldest son. I am interested in what it feels like to be the parent, and in what it feels like to be the child. I am trying to distill what I know is important about how they interact with each other, and how that changes over time.
Just as my husband learns about being a father through the act of parenting, I learn about this relationship through the act of taking pictures. Frequently I am surprised by what I notice with a camera that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. The pictures are a testament to what I think is true, and also a method of discovery. Experience and time deepen my understanding. But people and their relationships are ever-changing, creating more layers to explore.
Parenting is a mix of simultaneous and intense opposites: love and frustration, joy and duty, play and discipline, closeness and separation. Togetherness and opposition can happen at the same time.
My husband and son have their own unique thoughts and emotions. They may have different experiences of the same situation. They are not always aware of each other’s perspective, or how their actions affect each other. Sometimes they don’t see how similar they are.
Other photographers have mined the domestic landscape, creating interesting and relevant work: Elinor Carucci, Sally Mann, Julie Blackmon and Jessica Todd Harper, to name a few. What I want to bring to the conversation is an examination of how the father-son relationship takes shape. Everyday parent-child interactions are more meaningful and influential than even the participants realize.
I am a documentary fine art photographer based in Springfield, Illinois.
Currently I am working on long-term personal projects about family, childhood, parenting and gender. I also enjoy taking storytelling photographs and portraits for a variety of national publications and organizations. I strive for beautiful photos that are thoughtful and caring — and sometimes funny.
I have received awards from American Photography 27, CENTER in Santa Fe, FRESH/Klompching Gallery and the National Press Photographers Association. Previously I was a staff photographer at The State Journal-Register. I have a master’s degree from the Missouri School of Journalism and a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and Art from Stanford University. I am originally from California, and am now at home in the Midwest with my husband, Ted, and our sons, Sam and Eli.