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A Photographer Shoots His Autistic Son’s Universe for a Photography Project

The photographer Thimothy Archibald shares with us his interesting and moving project. In his series ‘Echolilia’, Archibald explores his relationship with his autistic son Elijah.

He started to photograph Elijah when he was only 5. However, back then, Archibald’s goal was nothing but sheer documentation. Elijah, who suffers from autism, was socially withdrawn, obsessed with mechanical objects, and had a ritual need for repetition. Archibald photographed his son and showed the pictures to different behavioral specialists who confirmed that he was on the autistic spectrum.

Nevertheless, Archibald did not want this photographic father-son relationship to only be mere documentation and Echolilia became a three-year collaboration. The term describes the repetition of phrases common among those with autism. Archibald’s intention is to capture the very essence of his son’s repetitive rituals with his photos.

He started by capturing some of Elijah’s rituals which used to drive Archibald crazy. As Archibald explains, Elijah did things with his body and they just could not make him stop. For instance, he would teeter on the edge of the sofa, or lie down on the grass in the garden to listen to music every day. He would also curl up inside a plastic toy container, a ritual that resulted in one of the most moving photos of the series.

Once he started shooting these moments, their roles shifted. Elijah not only wanted to be the subject, but also enjoyed participating. When Archibald showed him a photo of one of his behaviors, Elijah suggested doing it in another way or another place. Both father and son were very interested in the process through which they could get a good photo. ‘We had this mutual sense of discovery,’ Archibald says.

According to Archibald, his project Echolilia helped him understand the situation, his role as father, but most importantly, to accept his own son’s differences. Those habits that first drove him nuts completely changed through his photos. In Echolilia, father and son create their own visual language, thanks to which they can communicate with each other even when there are no words they both can understand. In fact, Elijah receives positive attention for his rituals, can share something with his dad, and has even started to take his own photos.

The information for this article has been taken from Juventud Fotográfica (in Spanish).

I try not to use articles from other sites, but this one really moved me. Hope you like it.

written by kscaramouche and translated by bisilala

4 comments

  1. blueskyandhardrock

    blueskyandhardrock

    Very intimate and affecting portraits. I love them.

    5 months ago · report as spam
  2. ideajet

    ideajet

    very moving!

    5 months ago · report as spam
  3. saidseni

    saidseni

    Very nice article and project.

    5 months ago · report as spam
  4. markvnathan

    markvnathan

    Very strong photos! :)

    5 months ago · report as spam

Read this article in another language

The original version of this article is written in: Spanish. It is also available in: 中文(简体版), Nederlands, Deutsch, 中文(繁體版), 中文(繁體版), Italiano, Türkçe & Français.