Looking at these photographs by San Francisco-based photographer Timothy Archibald, I am struck by a sense of stillness. Is it because the boy has his eyes closed or shielded in most of the pictures? Or perhaps because the scenes seem to portray quiet moments of introspection? The portrait project Echolilia was born out of the necessity for Archibald to gain a better understanding of his autistic son Eli, who was five at the time. By taking the time to really see his son and pay attention to his behavior, Archibald was able to get much closer to Eli. It became a collaboration between father and son.

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TA: “The word ECHOLILIA references the medical term Echolalia, a habit of repeating phrases and copying speech patterns common in children on the Autistic Spectrum. I chose the name because it sounded like the word “Echo”, the repetition of sound caused by the bouncing of sound waves, and the word “Lily”, which essentially is a pretty flower. And this repetition of sounds and phrases echoed through our home and had become part of our every day. I thought it was the perfect word for the thread that connected the photographs.”

timothy-archibald-photos-son-echolilia2Echolilia-Timothy Archibald-photographyEcholilia-Timothy Archibald-photographyTA: “A collection of photographs I worked on collaboratively with my son and all shot in our home, these simple photographs were raw and primitive. They reminded me of a beginning student’s photo project: simple props, window lighting, just a suburban dad making photographs with his son in this quiet child mindset. The results seemed to be photographs made out of nothing except the ability to pay attention and listen to someone else.”

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The project is now finished. TA: I thought we both felt like we were digging and mining this situation together to try to figure it out or figure something out. And in the end, we didn’t get any tangible answers…but amidst it all, we built a bridge. Now we’ve met at the middle of the bridge and there is just no need to make these images anymore.

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The Echolilia project is also a book. Buy it here:

All images © Timothy Archibald
For more on the project: