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Photographing A Good News Story

Posted by Jacob Hawthorne on

Here’s two friends of mine that I’d have to say are just about the nicest couple you could hope to meet. They’re highly intelligent, extremely studious, hard working and open minded. It was a pleasure to photograph Cooshe and Moussa just before the arrival of their first child.

The brief for the portrait was to show mum’s tummy and, therefore, document this very important time of their life together. You’ll notice that I’ve directed each of them to place their hands on Cooshe’s tummy. This idea was very much a two sided sword. I wanted to use the hands to draw attention to the shape of the tummy and the life contained therein, but I also wanted to make a more subtle statement about understanding, harmony and, ultimately, hope.

Message And Meaning

As well as a lovely portrait of my two friends some folks might read into this photo the message of harmony between races. I well remember a photograph of an African American playing chess in, I think, Central Park by Tod Papageorge. It seemed to me that the photo pointed, subtlety, to the racial divide in the USA during the sixties. I saw the photo as a student of photography in Melbourne in 1986. It affected me profoundly. It’s humorous, but biting in its honesty. I feel I understood it straight away and, though I may have only looked at it once or twice over all these years, that it’s influenced the way I made this particular photograph.

In fact Cooshe’s background is Jewish, while Moussa is a muslim man. She’s was born in Australia, from an Israeli background, and he’s a migrant from West Africa. So many differences, so much to keep them apart. But the seemingly intractable politics associated with race, religion, land, water and the like cannot stand in the face of love.

An unexpected meeting, in the hospital where Moussa was helping to care for Cooshe's grandmother, and some common ground (i.e., the French language) and it was only a matter of time. Those French: not only do they have the city of love, they also have the language of love. In the meantime I continue to stumble along with Aussie English.

I fulfilled my brief and had a lot of fun doing so. I also feel that, in the process, I made an image that is of value beyond the family album, which is why I've shared it here. And that’s what we should all aim to do, at least every now and again.

A message of hope for our future. Now that’s a good news story, I’m sure you’ll agree.


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