I think everyone that has siblings remembers screaming "You started it!" at their brother or sister as a parent is informed of the infraction. There is a twist to this statement and most photographers know it very well, the photograph that starts a project.
Years ago I had the most fantastic family as neighbors. Their two kids with twisted golden curls, cherubim cheeks and mischievous eyes offered hours of entertainment while we sat on the stoop together. I quickly became enthralled by how angelic these kids looked and how much destruction they could cause, especially to their most loved things.
Watching this interaction between child and toy I kept being drawn back to the words of the Skin Horse in Velveteen Rabbit.
"You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."
Since I was being dogged by inspiration I put up a set one day and photographed the kids and their toys. At one point during shooting Alora's mom got her to sing and I snapped this frame. When I started to edit the images I noticed how Alora's mouth in song resembled her baby doll's. I couldn't stop looking at them side by side, so that's how they remain. A little girl and her most loved baby doll. That is how the Velveteen Rabbit project began and Alora started it!
Along the way I showed the project around and someone said "You'll never get an image as good as that one for this project.".
I do love a good challenge.
You can see more at KaylinnGilstrap.com/velveteen .