San Francisco photographer Melissa Kaseman found herself interested in the objects that accumulated in the pockets of her son, Calder, after he came home from preschool. Soon after, she started laying them out and taking photos for a series she titled Preschool Pocket Treasures.
"I've always been interested in photography's capacity to suspend and document moments of transition and change," Kaseman told A Plus in an email. "The magic of childhood is so fleeting, and these objects I kept finding in Calder's pockets represent a chapter of boyhood, his imagination, and the magic of .. finding a 'treasure.' I like the idea of the photographs being a taxonomy report of a child's imagination, specifically Calder's. The project was born out of a desire to capture these magical moments of his boyhood, and his development."
Some of the things she found in Calder's pockets included feathers, pipe cleaners, toys, sticks, and flowers. One look at Kaseman's photos in the series and you'll notice Calder has an eye for color schemes. "I started to notice his aesthetic choices seemed very deliberate," Kaseman said. "Both his dad and myself are creatives, and much of our house is curated and organized by color. To see this transfer to his subconscious is interesting to me. Makes me wonder how much is nature versus nurture."
Once Calder caught on to the fact that his mom was photographing his stuff at the end of the day, he was able to appreciate his contributions to her work. "He's very proud of this project, he calls it 'ours,'" Kaseman said.
The project won an award from a photography organization in Santa Fe and Kaseman was invited to speak about the project. Calder got to go along. "He was in the audience of the lecture and afterwards, during the Q&A, people started to ask him questions. It was a special moment to share with him, and teach him that using your creativity is a good way to connect with people," she said.
Calder eventually moved on from collecting things, but luckily, Kaseman has this photography series to remember that time in his life. "This series really became a signifier of how quickly children grow and absorb the world. He is now focused on drawing and writing letters, and isn't into collecting objects," she said.
While the series focuses on the things she found in her preschool-aged son's pockets, Kaseman believes anyone can relate to the photos. "I think this work resonates with humans, no matter how young or old. We are all little collectors throughout our lives in some way. I hope this specific collection of images and objects brings back a moment of imagination in their childhood," she said.
Preschool Pocket Treasures will be shown in Santa Fe at the Marion Center for Photographic Arts February 3—April 7, 2017, but you can check out some photos from the series below: