The Birthday Project: Judith / by Mike Dawson

Since I was a child, I've had an obsession with birthdays. In the last year I've been asked to shoot some close friends' birthday celebrations and started to wonder what would happen if we treat an event that happens once a year as though it was a wedding, graduation, or any other once in a lifetime event. I've been spending the weekend shooting my friend Will's birthday festivities, and this has sent me back in time to Judith's amazing 40th. These pictures were from a flash-free period and slightly more... impressionistic, which in some ways it enhances the memories of this event and begs the question: Should a picture represent what we see or what we remember?


w, downtown manhattan

Back in my early twenties there was a Saturday night where I traveled to three boroughs in order to avoid missing any of my friend's birthdays. I arrived at the last in Queens around 2:30 in the morning exhausted as people were streaming out the door and awkwardly stayed for about fifteen minutes before realizing that as much as the birthday boy appreciated the tribute, he'd appreciate being left alone to go to bed much more. I think that was about the time I realized quality might trump quantity and that "important obligations" are often in your head. This is underlined by the fact that ten years later,  I don't remember who ANY of these parties were for.

please let me take pictures when you renew your vows?

please let me take pictures when you renew your vows?

I found the flash.

I'm not sure where this project is going to go. A birthday portrait a day for 365 days? It's NYC, and I think I know enough people to pull this off. Birthday suits? A vague business venture? I know there's something here I want to work on, and I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes. 

... and yes, there are approximately three months left to shop for my gift. I'm not picky.