IT is a fascinating project which seeks to explore the transitory nature of childhood and time while simultaneously capturing a generation of Sheffield youngsters growing up. If it all goes well, it should eventually result in a book and exhibition thought to be unlike anything done anywhere in the world before.
David Chang’s only problem right now? Finding an acceptable way of asking parents if he can borrow their newborn babies.
“It’s a strange thing to request,” muses the 41-year-old professional photographer. “I’ve had some odd looks – but when I explain what it’s for almost everyone agrees.”
That explanation then?
David is aiming to take 50 photos of 50 city babies throughout 2012. He will then take their picture on or around the same day for the next 18 years. In each new shot, the child will be holding the snap taken the previous year.
The results, he hopes, will be a unique collection capturing a city’s children turning into young adults.
And a pilot version – started six years ago with Niamh Boulding, the daughter of a good friend – is proof he might be on to something.
“Everyone who’s seen the pictures is fascinated,” says David, of Bramwell Drive, Netherthorpe. “I studied architecture when I was young and I love seeing historic picture of places compared with how they look now. Same applies with people. I like the idea of capturing those changes you don’t notice at the time, and making them come alive.
“Like with Niamh, you don’t just see her physically change, you see her personality grow too. She’s an extrovert little girl and I hope that comes out.”
Certainly, Niamh’s mum, Leanne thinks it does.
“It’s absolutely brilliant,” says the nurse, of Broad Lane, city centre. “As a parent you see them every day so you don’t notice these changes. I was sceptical at first but I’m so glad I agreed – and Niamh loves it. It’s a record of her growing up.”
And now David, whose professional work includes commissions for corporate clients such as Forgemasters International and Alchemy Fireworks, is hoping to do the same with 50 new Sheffield babies of different races and sexes.
If it sounds a lot he’s already got 20 signed up.
He and wife Fresa had their first child YangYang (“it means OceanOcean” in Chinese) in April, and the parents group they joined has provided plenty of subjects.
“When I explained what I was doing, they all wanted to be a part,” said David, who originally comes from Taiwan but moved to the UK to study in 1993 and has lived in Sheffield since 1995. “They’re getting a free professional photo of their child every year into the bargain so I think it’s a good deal.”
To volunteer a newborn baby for David’s Me Project visit www.erhudavestudio.co.uk/themeproject