“Rock, Paper, Scissors”
One morning, walking behind you through the misty sandy lanes of our local woods, I had a realisation. I suddenly, for the first time in my life, remembered being your age and my dad mine … Days fast turning into months and into years. How much longer would you be “little boys” and be happy to spend all your time with us? These photographs should not exist. I was supposed to continue climbing the corporate ladder, earning the pension and putting money aside for your education. That’s what two Masters degrees are for, aren’t they? That’s what the “sensible man” would do. I was doing well by most standards but deep inside I was frustrated. I was spending all my time commuting and working long hours at the office, hoping and living for those few hours a week that we would spend together. I was doing what I thought was expected of me and I was doing it well. But I felt hypocritical when I told you that in life you could do anything you wanted as long as it’s what you love and you give it your best. I truly believed that but how could I convince you when I, myself, was not doing what I preached.
Secretly, I had wanted to be a photographer for a long time but I was scared to do what it takes. A few timely events at work and the all important encouragement from your mum changed everything. It was decided. I would become a “professional” photographer. I had no idea how to do it and I knew it wouldn’t be easy but I would figure it out.
Hugo, you told me one day on one of our walks “Dad, when I am your age, will I remember all of this?” This showed me that even you, my 7 year old, realised the uniqueness and preciousness of this time … this convinced me … The moment was NOW. I was going to take an active part in your education by homeschooling you and you would become my first and most important photographic subject. What else could be more important? What subject could I treat with more love and passion?
Little did I know at the time that by doing so, I would also get to know you better and delve deeper into your relationship with each other. Two boys, fourteen months apart, I understood that your love for one another was matched only by your rivalry. I understood that you have to become your own self DESPITE the other and to do so you turn everything into a competition. We need a winner at all cost. “Rock, Paper, Scissors” as a last resort! Constantly competing for our love and attention … jealousy seems to consume you at times.
Edward, we tried to tell you that our love was like a river in which you and Hugo are constantly both standing, no matter what. “Yes, but HIS river is bigger than mine” was your very serious reply. I had to smile. You probably won’t understand until much later. Maybe until you have your own children. Then hopefully you will look at these pictures for what they are … a glimpse of your story, a memory of unique and fleeting time, the last moments of your boyhood. A testament of your uniqueness and that your relationship with each other will define who you are, who you become. A reminder you will always have this special relationship to go back to when you need it.
I hope that the landscape, more than a backdrop in the photographs, will be a reminder that we are all part of nature and not the other way around. We are just passing on this planet, so we cannot take ourselves to seriously. Just make sure you become good and kind men. Pursue what you believe in, nurture what gives you a fire in your belly. Become the best version of yourself. Don’t live the lives of somebody else, even if it is the life I have dreamt up for you.
These pictures … and their meaning … are my main teaching to you.
Mathieu was born in 1982 in Burgundy, France. After growing up in Lyon and studying law for 6 years split between Lyon and London, he started working in the banking industry first in Paris and then in London. During this time, he met his wife and became the father of his two sons Edward and Hugo, now aged 9 and 8 respectively. A little under two years ago, he left behind his career in banking to dedicate himself fully to photography and to his family. Mathieu is currently homeschooling his boys and working on his first photography book entitled “Rock, Paper, Scissors” and about his two boys growing side by side in rural UK. It is a story of love and brotherly competition where the landscape plays a key role.