As a mom of three, photographer Anna Ream is no stranger to the concept of “comfort objects” — the blankets, stuffed animals, dolls and other items that children latch on to for emotional release and support.
In the fall of 2012, she decided to make those very comfort objects the subject of a stunning photo series of the same name. “I was pondering objects representative of childhood and wanted to focus a body of work on the 2-to-6-year-old age range,” she told The Huffington Post in an email, adding, “It is one of my favorite developmental stages because children are becoming more independent, their language skills are developing rapidly and they are becoming more aware of the world around them.”
To date, Ream has photographed over 70 children with their comfort objects. She started with her own kids and family, as well as children from their preschool. From there, the project snowballed as she photographed other children through community connections and even reached out to strangers.
“Childhood comfort objects seem to me like a very real and authentic example of how tangible things can provide emotional comfort,” the photographer said.
Ream’s children are 13, 8, and 3 years old, and they have all had comfort objects at some point in their lives. When Ream began the project, her middle child Eowyn had decided she was too old for her stuffed dog named Ginger. Eowyn handed the dog down to her younger brother, but a few months later, she found herself crying in the middle of a difficult day. “I need Ginger,” she told her mom.
“For me, this story illustrates both the intense emotional connection children have with their object, but also how the object is a part of what gets left behind in the process of normal childhood development,” Ream said. “As a parent, there is some sadness and loss associated with those transitions.”
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