Sink Fly, 2011Rachel Hulin
Sink Fly, 2011
Rachel Hulin
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The Flying Baby

Feb 21, 2012

Henry first flew last summer.

Exhausted and bored on an assignment, photographer Rachel Hulin, Henry’s mother, thought it would be fun to make her baby fly. So Henry flew.

“The photo was sort of magical in an unexpected way and I wanted to make more,” Hulin said. She posted the photograph on Facebook and soon there was a flurry of comments. “Some people like the cute ones, some people like the spooky ones,” she said. “It’s an interesting litmus test.”

Hovering above a bed in a hotel, through a barn and into a shower, the flying baby photographs transcend cute and slip into the surreal. “I felt like the pictures could show the world that babies inhabit that is all their own,” Hulin said.

While she wouldn’t divulge the exact details of how Henry flies, Hulin did admit that it was more subtraction than addition. “I wanted the flights to feel genuine,” she said. “These are places we are really in everyday, it’s not a cut-and-paste job on random interiors and landscapes.”

Speaking to some of the unusual body positions of her flying offspring, Hulin said, “I never throw him, and I never move him into a place in the frame that he wasn't in to begin with. I like Henry to fly the way he feels like it, I never pose him in a specific way. Sometimes he’s graceful and sometimes he’s a little hunchback. I think telling you more would ruin it.”

She plans on continuing the series with hopes of showcasing the images in a book or exhibition some day. “I do feel compelled to keep making them," Hulin says. "It’s funny, I already feel nostalgic seeing how little he was in his first flights.”

Rachel Hulin is a photographer based in Providence, Rhode Island. You can see more of her work here.

Patrick Witty is the international picture editor at TIME. Follow him on twitter @patrickwitty.

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