“My memories are of running barefoot, building tree huts, and raiding our veggie garden,” says New Zealand-based Niki Boon of her early years coming of age on her parents’ farm. Now a mother herself, she makes her home along the a rolling ten acres of bucolic hinterland, through which her children dance in tandem with the steady flow of nearby rivers.
Childhood in the Raw is her testament to the coming of age of her four children— two sons and two daughters. She tutors them from home, eschewing conventional modes of education and giving them the precious liberty of discovering the world for themselves.
Play is as much for them a way of learning as studying the textbooks, and for the past three years, they have lived without the confines of modern technology and devices, with the one exception being their mother’s camera.
The boys and girls, she explains, don’t spend much time pondering the past and the future, and she has “much to learn from them.” But even with a life devoted to relishing the everyday, Boon couldn’t let her children’s youth pass by without some means of preserving it for many years to come. She isn’t interested in the rosy, sentimental moments, but those that are candid, exposed, and as vulnerable as an open wound.
For the most part, the kids don’t interact much with the pictures, since their access to the tools of her trade kept to a minimum, at least for now. For their birthdays, each year, however, they are gifted with a special present from their mother: a selection of prints, sometimes bound into a book. When they grow up, she hopes they’ll return to them, flipping through the well-worn pages: “They will hold a piece of me and my love for everything they are and everything they do.”
All images © Niki Boon