Few would disagree that a really beautiful image of a mother and her newborn child, properly made, is one of the most significant and wonderful pictures in the lives of all involved. My grandfather, Richard Batten, after whom I am named, made such a photograph of my mother and me in the late summer of 1963. I thought of this image as I worked today on some of the hundreds of images Abby and I made in Baltimore last week of Abby’s daughter Chele and her husband Tom, and their infant son Paul. Although I am not biologically related to him, Paul is in practice my grandson, and one of the things I wanted to accomplish in Baltimore was to make as many wonderful images of him as I was able.
At my fingertips is a phalanx of technology 47 years newer than when my grandfather used his Kodak Bantam 828 folding camera to shoot beautiful Kodachrome color slides, but it’s obvious to anyone with an artist’s soul and a grandparent’s love that technology is mere convenience, and that it takes an eye and a spirit to make images like these, images that are meaningful to generations of family to come. Hopefully we will have many more such opportunities.
So I am returning the favor to Richard Batten, not just for the act of taking those photos all those years, but also for passing to me, either through the exemplary legacy of his handsome collection of color slides or through the complexity of genetics, my own photographic talents.