I’ve been struggling with this exercise for several days, unable to decide how to go ahead with it, and have now decided I must simply get on with it in order to move on. After all, it is not an assignment. That being the case, I have put together a group of images which show my partner in various situations around the home, along side other images of items that express something about who he is.
I am aware that these do not really fit the remit of the exercise, but feel that the end result gives a similar effect to that of the instructions. Having looked at the work of Harry Callahan, Julian Germain and Kaylynn Deveney (about which I will write separately), I feel that a mixture of artefacts and portraits is a valid way of approaching the remit. However, what is missing is much in the way of information about the place in which my partner lives. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, in his own field he is quite well know and I felt that personal privacy was an issue. Secondly, and more practically, he spends most of his time at home, and therefore any truthful portrait of him should include that fact. I intend to focus on place over person in the next exercise, which I plan to undertake while at the Brighton Biennale this weekend.
There are several ways in which I could take this project forward, unifying objects with images of him going about his daily life and which hint at different aspects of his personality. One which I think has some potential is about his selection of hats for various activities, (he is a great hat lover), but I will save this project for another day.
Overall, I find that I feel uncomfortable taking portraits of my close family. Partly it is because I don’t want to bother them, but also I know so much about them that it is difficult to see the wood for the trees. Also, they tend to be hypercritical about how they look in images, and are not afraid to tell me when they are not happy with the result, while I am more interested in whether the images I take are honest representations. So much easier to work with people I know less well, but I do need to be aware that subjects’ sensitivities need to be borne in mind. (Here, I am thinking in particular of an image I took earlier this year of a heavily overweight colleague running across a car park, and then published on the internet. I can honestly say that the thought that she might find this a problem never occurred to me at the time – I was simply recording a moment which featured her in it. However, in retrospect, I suspect she was horrified at what I had done; no picture she posts of herself refers in any way to her size, and her images are exclusively headshots.)