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Christopher Anderson’s Pia: an Ode to Fatherhood

Christopher Anderson’s Pia: an Ode to Fatherhood

Magnum Photographer Christopher Anderson just released a new book published by Stanley Barker. Countless wonderful photos of his daughter Pia show the intimate relationship between father and child, and a privileged one between photographer and subject.

Pia © Christopher Anderson / Magnum Photos

Christopher Anderson may well be a seasoned photographer, with countless social reports, magazine covers, and celebrity portraits to his name, yet he takes family photos with undiminished zeal. This is a trait common to those who have left their mark on the history of photography: their capacity for self-effacement and surrender to the simple pleasure of looking. 

Pia © Christopher Anderson / Magnum Photos

We discover touching images of his daughter Pia in the eponymous book released last September. Intimacy has always been Christopher Anderson’s trademark; here, it seems to be a timeless quality: Pia in the city, Pia by the seaside, Pia at the window, Pia in the arms of her mother Marion, Pia in bed, Pia eating, Pia in disguise. It’s like a series of children’s books, where every photograph announces a new volume. We also inevitably think of Jacques-Henri Lartigue or Albert Lamorisse.

Pia © Christopher Anderson / Magnum Photos

Here we have a delicate fragrance, a romantic atmosphere, a bundle of joy. Christopher Anderson touched these images with his eyes, and we are tempted to reach out and touch them with our hands. The photographs are characterized by the perfection of the composition and a delightful combination of colors. They abound with little touches of humor, small details that lend images their beauty and transcend the banality of life. Or yet, what is extraordinary about life. Decide for yourself.

Pia © Christopher Anderson / Magnum Photos

Blind spoke to Christopher Anderson on the occasion of his book’s release. He tells us about his photos, the relationship with his daughter and his point of view as a photographer.

Do you know roughly how many pictures you took of your daughter Pia?

Not even roughly. Thousands. More.

How old is she now?

She will soon be 8.

Pia © Christopher Anderson / Magnum Photos

Any particular scene(s) you like the most, and why?

I don’t know why, but her eating the watermelon always gets me. It is her at her most self aware. She is giving me a deadpan silly face. It is a complex humor.

She appears very free and loved. Does she like to be photographed?

She loves it. Often she is the one asking to be photographed.

Pia © Christopher Anderson / Magnum Photos

If you could add words about Pia on your photos, what would they be?

You know the old saying? Something about if I could use words I wouldn’t need to photograph…

Marion, your wife, appears here and there in beautiful photos too. Why is she important next to so many images of Pia?

One of the threads in this book is the relationship between photographer and subject… not only father and daughter. Marion’s presence is part of that dynamic. Excluding her would feel labored. Not the other way around.

Pia © Christopher Anderson / Magnum Photos

At the moment you photograph Pia, do you think of the image as a simple family memory or something else?

I am not equipped to answer this question. The act of photographing is for me many things. Part compulsion, part memory preservation, part excuse to just watch. Many things.

As a photographer, how do you feel about publishing your intimacy? As a father?

All of my images are related to intimacy. They are windows into my life. Even my “work” pictures. It is all about degree. Obviously there is a degree to which something might become too intimate. I don’t show those pictures.

Pia © Christopher Anderson / Magnum Photos

By Jonas Cuénin

Jonas Cuénin is an editor and journalist specializing in photography. A former editor of Camera and L’Oeil de la Photographie, his writings have also appeared in Photograph, ICP Perspective and Polka.

Christopher Anderson, Pia

Published by Stanley Barker


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