All photos by Seb Agnew. Used with Creative Commons permission.
Childhood is one of the most fascinating topics to explore through conceptual photography, as evidenced by many of the projects we featured. Joining our roster of favorite bodies of work on childhood is a thought-provoking portrait series by Hamburg-based photo artist and fine art photographer Seb Agnew, whose interest in the subject was sparked by a question: “What becomes of early dreams, hopes, and fears once we grow up?”
Titled Grown, the series is a visual exploration that seeks to answer this inquiry. In Agnew’s words, it explores “the border between childhood and adulthood — if there is any.” It plays on the idea that while some of us get to keep a part of our childlike wonder and inquisitiveness, all of us get the feeling of wanting to go back to our carefree, childhood days. To achieve this, the conceptual portraits all depict adults — or physically grown individuals, as the photographer described them — in “sudden subconscious, almost apathetic reflection.” They serve as allegorical characters set against or interacting with typical childhood objects to drive the idea across.
Most of the photos in the series are done with a simple and clean setup, the settings made to be easily relatable. They could easily be anyone’s home, and that makes it easy for viewers to imagine themselves in place of the characters. The entire series seems to be designed to get us to reflect on our childhood, what we loved and feel nostalgic about it, and where we stand at present.
The strength of this series lies in how it appeals to our emotions and memories to stir various responses and thoughts that relate to childhood. The characters all look pensive and somewhat wistful, as if remembering their own childhood with longing, prompted by the toys and items they were interacting with.