2021 Shortlisted

Matthew O’Donnell – An Excerpt from the Old House

By June 16, 2021 No Comments

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31 Laurel Bank is a story of discovery.

Of discovering photography.

Of discovering fatherhood.

Of discovering purpose and meaning and love and beauty and, through it all, myself.

In 2012, before my wife was my wife, I moved in with her. Hayley was a single mother of four children. Her friend gave me a Pentax and a bag full of unidentified 400-speed bulk-rolled film.

I had never used a camera before.

I had never been a step-father before either.

Over the next few years I documented our lives at 31 Laurel Bank Parade. The house that came to be referred to as “The Old House”.

This story–our story–begins with introductions and culminates in the birth of mine and Hayley’s son: Lucky. At which point we outgrew The Old House.

These photographs aren’t perfect. In fact some are technically bad. I was, after all, still learning to use a camera. Still, photographing the kids and our early days together, playing and getting to know each other is arguably the most important work I’ve ever made.

I hope you can see the discovery through my lens, of how beautiful and pure the children were and how lucky I felt to be invited into their home, their lives.

This series is my ode to them, my thank-you card. For letting me in and choosing to love me back.

Most people only get to meet the girl or guy of their dreams–I got to meet the family of mine.

Thank you Ryshi, Alaskah, Nash, Occy and Lucky.

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