During this visit, I showed Dinara some of the images I had already taken, and rephotographed some family album snapshots. We also photographed the embroidery work that Dinara was preparing for her upcoming exhibition. I took the opportunity to make some shots of Dinara at work – both at her computer and doing embroidery, but the embroidery shots were not as strong as the previous session.
I was much happier with the way the computer images worked – she is wearing something different and the background is different since she had the computer plugged into a different socket.
I’m not sure whether I’ll show all of these works, but I was asked to photograph them all since they’ll be needed for the promotional materials. They need a lot of cleaning up, but this was the last chance I had to photograph them before they are framed under glass. Some of the most important images are the ones showing mother/child combinations, since Dinara has already told me that she wants to have a child some when in the future – preferably while her parents are still of an age to help her raise it. Another image that is important is the one that shows her feet and an embroidery needle, since this she views as her personal logo. A second view of the embroidery images reveals that there are actually some quite good shots:
Once again, it may come down to looking at the pictures with fresh eyes, or seeing how they fit in with the other images I decide to show. I have also been considering asking Dinara to allow me to film her feet – but would that look a little odd, in a presentation made up of entirely still images the only moving images would be of her feet?! Hmmm…
Snapshots taken from family photo albums add an entirely new vernacular dimension to a narrative. I have never used other people’s images in my work before, so this is new territory for me. According to Marianne Hirsch, in contrast to public images that are published in newspapers and TV, family photos have a tendency to “diminish distance, bridge separation, and facilitate identification and affiliation” (2008, p 116). Indeed, since my aim is to present the ‘normality’ of my subjects, this kind of image not only bridges the separation between disabled and non-disabled, but also geographical distance between subject and audience:
A lot of the family photographs are seriously creased and damaged, even drawn over in felt-tip and ballpoint pen! Never mind, that adds to their quality in fact! Not sure how many of these I’ll use, I really don’t know how rephotographed images will go down with the assessment team! Now I’ve caught myself thinking about my assessment rather than the work in hand, which can’t be a good thing. Anyway, I don’t want to go overboard with this kind of image, especially if I’m asking others to let me see theirs as well, it’ll get too samey. Definitely want to use the black and white images, and possibly the one with the cuddly Tweety toy. I tried photographing the snapshots in a pile, as they were presented to me, but it just looked like a mess visually:
In all this was a really productive session and I have a lot of material to be working with.