Copyright © Robert Dickes Photography. All rights reserved.

A few years ago, I drove past a park and noticed that there were no children playing on the playground. After that day, I observed more abandoned playgrounds. As a result of this observation, I decided to take a closer look and found remnants of childhood that once inhabited these places.  

As I went to these playgrounds, I took my camera to document the remnant belongings of these children whom once filled these playgrounds. What caught my eye was every playground that I went to had some toy or article of clothing left behind and waiting for its owner to return and reclaim it. The more I engaged myself in this project, the more I realized that children were no longer playing on these playgrounds. I began to see empty car seats, strollers, playgrounds, and backyards as if children were being erased completely. My only explanation to this phenomenon was that it must be part of my psyche letting go of the desire to father a child.

This work is not about cute, colorful children’s belongings. It is about the pain of living without something that is so deeply desired that you feel separated and alone from the rest of society. This work is for all of those want-to-be parents that struggle with loss that most do not even think of until it has already happened.  

The playground is where a dad takes his son or daughter to push on a swing, to learn how to throw a ball or ride a merry-go-round. Right now, this home for child recreation has become a place of loneliness, depression, and mourning for what has not happened and may never happen. To me, this place reminds me that my life is being lived “Without.”

Without Children