Meet Sian Davey, the Psychotherapist Turned Photographer Shooting Touching Portraits of Her Children

The British photographer documents the ups and downs of childhood through an intimate and, well, therapeutic lens.

British photographer Sian Davey hasn’t had the typical photographer’s life. She didn’t always take photos, nor did she receive her first camera at the age of thirteen. With an academic background in Fine Art and Social Policy, she spent the past fifteen years working as a private psychotherapist; she only recently left that world behind to dedicate herself to take candid and intimate photographs. Yet it’s her extensive experience with psychotherapy that ended up defining her work in the end: her personal portraits are categorized by a potent combination of vulnerability and power, focusing on the themes of family, domestic life, childhood and love.

Through her most recent series about her teenage stepdaughter Martha, entitled “Martha”, we see a two-year-long documentation of a teenager’s growing pains in the rural town of Devon.  Davey was given full access to Martha’s life—something that’s rather startling to see, since teenagers usually keep their distance from their parents during these arduous years of their lives. That wasn’t the case with Davey: her photographs unveil what it means to be a teenager, capturing the highs and lows of the rough steps we all climb from teenagehood to adulthood and the doubt, drama, happiness and sadness that go with them. “The camera has turned onto my stepdaughter Martha as I think about my relationship with my own mother,” Davey writes on her website. “It’s an attempt to understand who I have become.”

Aside from “Martha”, Davey’s most acclaimed work to date is the photography series “Looking For Alice”. This expansive series invites the audience to peer into the life of Sian’s daughter, Alice, who was born with Down’s Syndrome. Sian’s intent was to show that Alice is “no different to any other human being” and explains, “I wonder how it might be for Alice to be valued without distinction, without exception and without second glance.” The series was so well regarded that it was published into a photography book—and put Sian Davey on the map as one of the promising photographers to keep an eye on over the coming years.

If you’re as much of a fan as we are, follow Sian’s work on her Instagram or website.