After his son Atlas was born, Chris Anderson’s world changed. In a literal “not dodging bullets anymore” kind of way.
“First of all, I miss the friendships, the camaraderie, the relationships with sort of this roving band of other writers and photographers who do that kind of work,” Anderson, formerly a war photographer, said, “I miss the clarity that you get. . . . I never believed in saving the planet, but you get a more clear sense of purpose. And I miss the excitement. I can’t deny that.”
A Magnum photographer who has been honored by Pictures of the Year International and World Press Photo for his international reportage, Anderson has completely quit war photography. “I found [clarity] ten times over in the birth of my son. That’s what I was put on this planet to do,” he said.
Anderson considers his upcoming book, “Son,” his most important work. Full of textural emotion, the photos are an edit of the loveliest and toughest slices of family life. But each wrinkle of clothing and skin are not a sign of Anderson’s desire to dig his heels deep into the dirt while being propelled into the future. They tell the difficult story about the sweet but inevitable passage of time.
The process, however, has not been easy. The title of Anderson’s book refers not only to the birth of his son but also his own role as a son. About the same time when Atlas was born, Anderson’s father told him that he had lung cancer.
“You see me looking at my father in a way that I don’t want to look at him, “ Anderson said.
Even more gripping than seeing Anderson’s father undergoing radiation treatments, you see him in a crumpled state. Although his father is now in remission, Anderson has not yet talked to his father about the photos.
Still, Anderson never stopped to consider whether he should photograph his family. “The act of photographing was always about explaining the world to myself rather than explaining the world to anyone else,” he said.
Anderson’s book, “Son,” will be published in 2013.