In her project “Tharin” (formerly This is Boy), Tytia Habing – a self-taught photographer living and working in Watson, Illinois – documents the life of her son as he grows up in close association with nature. The series began back in 2011 as a simple and personal record of a child’s development through the eyes of his mother. It evolved over time into something bigger and acquired wider cultural and social meanings.
Tytia explains: “When my son was three and a half, my family was living in the Cayman Islands. Because of rising costs, an uptick in crime and the fact that we had no family nearby, my husband and I decided to pick up and move back to southern Illinois among sprawling corn and bean fields and near my family. I was back to where I started, and only a quarter mile down the road from where I grew up and where my parents still live on the family farm. Immediately upon our arrival, I began photographing this series of images of my son living the ‘mid-west dream’ and I continue to photograph for this project today.”
Through these images, Tytia now intends to not only document her son’s childhood, but to highlight a lifestyle that seems to be fading away all too quickly. She hopes to encourage parents and their children to get out and connect with nature and the great outdoors no matter where they live.
“Only fifteen percent of children in the United States now live in rural areas,” she points out, “and my son is one of these declining numbers. Not only that, but even rural children are staying indoors much more than children did in the past. Having wide-open spaces to explore, living close to nature and being afforded a modicum of independence as a young child was the norm for me growing up, so not only am I photographing my son’s present, I am photographing my past. As a child I played on the same land, swam in the same river, and walked the same dirt roads as he does now.”
In “Tharin”, the little boy roams the dusty fields, swims in lakes, lies in the middle of bushes, looking up at the sky. Life is surely harsh and tough, but it is relaxed and free and endlessly adventurous. There is a very strong cinematic quality to the monochromatic shots. On a compositional level, the project resembles the cinematography of Andrei Tarkovsky’s Ivan’s Childhood (1962) and also Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life (2011).
Tytia Habing holds degrees in horticulture and landscape architecture. Her work has been exhibited internationally and featured in Lenscratch, Black + White Magazine, The Sun, Shots Magazine, National Geographic and on CNN. Family, friends and nature are Tytia’s greatest inspirations.
Below is a selection from “Tharin”, check out the entire gorgeous collection here.
Images used with permission.