Family matters – Behind the scenes

The story of how I created a family photography album with a twist.

Already aware of Sally Mann and Richard Billingham at the time, I was very keen to explore the world of unorthodox family portraiture first hand. I admired the gritty unfiltered truth in Billingham´s work, a poignant testament to his rough childhood.
Growing up, Richard felt the constant weight of an unfortunate economical situation, which eventually lead his father into a drunken depression, and his mother to be a bitter chain-smoker. Little more can be said about the deteriorating council flat he spent it in. He describes taking the photographs as a coping mechanism to release that tension, or
capture it.

Billingham’s regular use of flash only adds to the unflattering appeal, sharing Bruce Gilden’s rawness. In your face, and almost too close for comfort. There appears to be an uncomfortable humor in his work. Making commentary on the situation he grew up in, whilst capturing strangely comical moments.

Sally Mann

Mann´s underlying themes include; Nature, nurture, memories and existence. Her best known work surrounds family life, challenging many of these aforementioned concepts through portraits of her children. Published in 1992, Immediate family is a collection of 65 duotone portraits of the artists three children growing up.

Despite capturing deeply intimate and poetic snippets of her children, ultimately conveying a very sensitive and sensual quality. The series also carries slight undertones of violence, sexuality and distress. As Mann refutes the Cliches of childhood, in favor of an arguably unsettling portrayal. Critics were quick to accuse Mann of sexualising her offspring, as thirteen of the images contain nudity, while three others feature minor injuries. Subsequently, thrusting the project into the limelight, where it would continue to receive negative attention. One organisation (Save the Children) even organized a book burning and reflected on the series in a pornography trial. According to Mann, her children played a huge role in the selection and photographic process, granting them power over how they were to be depicted. Her controversial work has since gone on to inspire younger generations of artists and photographers.

Although her portraits tackle very delicate topics, such as nudity and motherhood. There is an angelic quality to her monochromatic photographs. The roles are almost reversed, Sally imposes her artistic curiosity on her children, whilst I’m imposing my photographic interest on my parents. A cross between Mann’s performativity and Billingham’s candidness, while Billingham centers around a squalid reality, Mann gently bends it to paint a squalidly pastoral reality.
Billingham documents his alcoholic, smoke infested parents, while Mann pictorially suggests a similar life for her daughters.
Both of them exploit their family artistically

The two artists fall into an alternative category of family portraiture, drawn in by their refusal to abide by a typical representation of family life.

The project originated from the desire to shoot family portraits, without conforming to the cliche happy family aesthetic. I wanted to create an antithesis of sorts to the typical family photo album. The objective was to find the polar opposite, using the stockings to distance, distort and discomfort. In essence, replacing white smiles and T-shirts with stockings and a frown.

The first few images centered around the notion of a family vacation, starting with my Nan’s house in Portugal, 2018. I proceeded to photograph family members in-situe (as one would when taking holiday snaps), in an attempt to capture the tropes of a family gathering.

I didn’t have a definitive concept at the time, I was simply striving to find a style to work with. Allowing the aesthetic value of the image to guide me. I concentrated on lighting and composition, without giving any thought to a meaning.

The next family gathering was Christmas, 2018 With my Mother, Father, Sister and her boyfriend at the time. I started leaning towards the big family events, such as; Weddings, Birthdays and Christmases, seeing as this is the predominant theme in many family albums, and when family is most present.

Although the images may appear heavily constructed, there is very little direction on my part. Once the stockings are on, the theatrics follow very shortly. I occasionally remind someone to pull a stern face, or move something in frame. Other than that, the subjects are somewhat out of my control, free to perform as they will.

The decision to use flash in the previous images was purely driven by poor lighting conditions.
I have since come to enjoy its appeal, evoking a strong emotional connection to the wind up camera flashes of my childhood. In addition, it makes me think of Billingham´s garish flash. With a little timing there is little need for creating a set and setting, as these naturally occur through the roles and rituals of family events. These were taken directly after Christmas dinner, as I didn’t want to set the table again for the shoot and I felt it was more authentic. Upon re-examination, an image of myself in pajamas with a few presents at the bottom of the bed would have been a nice addition to the series. Insinuating the childlike wonder of Christmas.

The summer of 2019 was fruitful, providing plenty of chances to coordinate the bizarre family photos. Continuing to pursue situational content, such as Beach days and Pool parties.

Up to recently the project had been a personal venture outside of University work, driven by the genuine desire to create and explore, rather than fulfilling tedious module criteria. Given the circumstances, I am extremely fortunate to be able to continue pursuing the project, allowing me to temporarily tie everything together and visualize what the final piece may look like in the future. I see this as an ongoing sequence which will span far beyond the hand-in. Hopefully, culminating in the form of a published photo-book.

Staying with my cousin and uncle

I was fortunate enough to isolate with my Uncle and Cousin for a week in Oxford. So naturally, I took the opportunity to progress my family project. Unfortunately, there were no stockings readily available. Therefore, this session consisted of substituting the pair of nylons with a plastic bag. The objective was to try using other forms of distorting facial features, until I had access to some stockings. I was curious to see if a similar deadpan aesthetic could be achieved through other mediums, also keen to develop some self-portraits within the photo-series.

It was at this time when I started thinking about the suffocation many feel within their families, and how it could feed into the project, especially given the circumstances. I eventually came to the conclusion that; The asphyxiation caused by the bag was a very lazy way to convey being smothered in a family environment. It´s just too direct and clean cut as a visual metaphor, yet I believe the stockings could also carry this underlying meaning, without being so `in your face´. I also had to take consistency and continuity into consideration, meaning these images would inevitably stand out in a sea of stockings.

Whilst attempting this style of portraiture, I recall being very aware of my stance and attitude. Forcing me to think heavily about body language, posture and gestures. Although these are unlikely to make the final cut, I thoroughly enjoyed adhering to an awkwardly deadpan appeal. I also tried poking the bag into my mouth to accentuate the suffocating theme and sense of
unease. plus it contoured the bag to my face, showing facial features which where previously concealed, such as the eyes and nose.

As with typical family portraiture, the photographic process is out of your immediate control. Therefore, I have no issues with handing the camera to a family member, adjusting the camera settings beforehand, so all they must do is point and shoot.
If necessary, I will direct and instruct a few compositions, occasionally checking the photographs to be sure.

As with typical family portraiture, the photographic process is out of your immediate control. Therefore, I have no issues with handing the camera to a family member, adjusting the camera settings beforehand, so all they must do is point and shoot. If necessary, I will direct and instruct a few compositions, occasionally checking the photographs to be sure. I thought the juxtaposition between natural and artificial was distinctly noticeable here, the blossom creates a fairly neutral backdrop for the plastic to sit against. Once again, awkward hand gestures and uncomfortable body language playing a key role.

Hendrik Kersten

Upon reflection, I find the previous shoot to be very reminiscent of Hendrik Kersten´s work, mostly due to his use of a plastic bag as a headpiece. Not only an aesthetic resemblance, both of us lean heavily towards a very deadpan, expressionless appearance. Kersten also using a family member to conduct his practice. His daughter, Paula.
I can relate to Hendrik´s stylistic motivation, allowing an aesthetic to drive the project rather than following a predetermined concept. “Initially, Kersten’s photographs were created out of a genuine desire to capture his daughter’s fleeting childhood. However, one day he realized that he is now inadvertently projecting on her his interest in the Dutch painters of the seventh century.”(Koones, 2019). Equally, I admire his attention to lighting and color grading. Nearly completely desaturated, without harming the natural skin tones. (Almost certainly achieved through editing the face separately).

Unfortunately, the theme has little to no relevancy to my project, merely concerning itself with the appropriation of classic paintings, such as; Jan van Eyck´s Turban or Johannes Vermeer´s Girl with a pearl earring.

I´m especially drawn to this image, due to the expressive gesture. Insinuating a sense of power and elegance, as she silences her subjects with the wave of a hand. The signal is ambiguous and perhaps unfinished. I believe our work shares this theatrical aspect, yet remains extremely deadpan, due to the expressionless figures. Paola’s lack of facial expressions
comes across as cold and reserved, wheres-if I can still read a lot from the blank faces below. Whether it is an emotional tie to the subjects, or my instructions to look stern rather than emotionless.

Looking back, I also find a lot in common with my earlier pieces in the series and Kersten’s work. Both taking a relatively formulaic approach, both featuring the upper body against a dark backdrop.
I have found this method to be too systematic for portraiture, repeatedly obtaining the same shot with minor variants.

I bought some stockings

Luckily, I managed to obtain a variety of stockings in different colors from Sainsburys clothing section. When reviewing previous work from the series, I came to the realization that; I favor the situational content far more. Not only is there a lot more flexibility in terms of composition, but it also gives the subjects an environment and props to interact with.

I thought my uncle’s washing line would provide an interesting setting, especially with the leading lines and dappled light. Unfortunately, I was only able to get about 50 frames before my uncle got tired, and in retrospect a lower composition would have been preferable. If I had the chance to revisit this shoot, I would have positioned myself much closer to the camera (In front of the first sheet). Not to mention, changing the composition so that my head sits against the blue sky.

The next location which caught my attention happened to be my Uncle’s greenhouse, with plenty of props around and being a generally dynamic space to work in. I particularly enjoyed Richards resourceful use of the pressure washer, employing it as an air guitar or gun by simply changing his posture.

I also tried using a missing windowpane to frame him, but the sun was positioned behind the scene, meaning everything was back-light and slightly silhouetted. Fortunately, I was able to find an angle which wasn’t too distracting and am rather pleased with the final results.

At one point I asked if he would lean into the camera aggressively and grasp the window, yet I believe this may have been a step too far in terms of the aesthetic. I much prefer the inquisitive stare or playful use of the washer. Nonetheless, better to have them and not need them than need them and not have them.

That same day I also managed to convince my cousin to participate, which I am extremely grateful for, seeing as it was especially out of his comfort zone to wear them in public. That being said, once in the car he seemed to fill the role perfectly and only worried about the occasional passerby.

I would also like to add; the creative process involved is not one of meticulous research and implementation, rather an instinctual desire to explore this anti-aesthetic. I do not claim to have a predetermined concept, nor do I consciously reflect on similar work to influence the project. The work is a result of expression and experimentation, an investigation of artistic authenticity.

In post-production, I’m always drawn to the photographs which hold somewhat of a candid aspect. Although the scenes are heavily constructed, some of the portraits appear to catch the subject with their guard down. (A slightly open mouth aids this effect).

Because Josh had parked in the shade, I decided to raise the flash in order to have the backdrop correctly exposed, this also helped make the stockings more translucent. Not only did the flash fill in dark areas, but it also reminded me of the abusive use of flash in
our family photo albums, the perfect recipe for red eye and burnt retinas. Once again, I have chosen to pursue an in-situ look. Permitting both the location and subject to guide me compositionally, using the open window or door to find frames within the frame, in a similar fashion to my uncle in the greenhouse.

I am very satisfied with the results, and there is very little I would change if given the chance. That being said… My uncle in the passenger seat could have been a nice addition, or even in the back seat, only visible in the rear-view mirror. The wing mirrors could have been an interesting feature too, if I had something in the reflection. Lastly, I am slightly disappointed I never got a photograph of Josh on his fathers lap, as it was on the agenda, but unfortunately never happened. (Something I may try with my mother otherwise) I am very pleased with the images of Josh where their house is visible in the background, this ties the whole photograph together beautifully. The color range is aesthetically pleasing too, limited to a small branch oranges and blues.

Tierney Gearon - Daddy, where are you?

Whilst researching the weird world of family portraiture, I stumbled across Tierney Gearon’s extensive projects involving familiars. A broad selection of intimate pieces which reflect on the nuances of family life. ‘Daddy, where are you’ focuses on the relationship with her mentally ill mother, whilst ‘color-shape’ is aimed at her children and pets. I find a lot in common with Gearon and Billingham, both addressing their psychologically fragile parents through film and photography.

Her use of masks and fabrics struck a chord, in keeping with my notion of an anti-aesthetic. The child depicted above appears to be extremely uncomfortable, raising similar issues to the accusations against Mann.
Heavily influenced by color, Gearon’s photography oscillates between warm flesh tones and hyper-real shades of blue & green. Guiding the viewer through a stimulating visual trajectory.

Comparable to my work, Gearon employs a variety of implied narratives. Constructed scenes which superficially have a spontaneous appearance. A hybrid between a family snapshot and a constructed tableaux. I found the image of a child using a machete in the snow to be particularly relatable, sharing a likeness with my gun portrait.

Strangers on a train

Due to the nature of this project, I have found it very difficult to advance when not with family. Therefore, I have branched out into the self-portrait genre, in order to reflect on the nuances surrounding family life. I thoroughly enjoyed the performative aspect, taking slight inspiration from the poetic poses accentuated in the renaissance, which placed in a contemporary setting appear to be overly eccentric, flamboyant and plain weird.

On the way back from my uncles I was greeted by an eerily empty train, due to the current situation. I saw this as an opportunity to get a few self portraits, which under normal circumstances may have been a little awkward. So armed with just my camera and a remote trigger on my phone I proceeded to find an interesting composition, this proved to be a lot easier said than done and after a few attempts at framing the scene without a tripod, I eventually used one of the tables to rest my camera on.
In the first few frames I focused on how empty the train was, featuring the rows of empty seats behind me. The framing was still lacking somehow, even with the repetition from the chairs. I had to use my phone as a remote trigger, which I decided to incorporate in the first few frames.

After a losing battle with the previous composition, my attention was particularly drawn to the windows, as the scenery it contained would change with each pose. However, this meant I had to raise the flash if I wanted the bright exterior correctly exposed without loosing details inside the carriage. (Much like the decision to flash Josh in his car). Only a few of the photos without flash were readable, most of the others adopted a Silhouetted appearance, due to the extremely bright window behind me. Luckily, I was able to pull out some details in the editing stage.

Without Flash

With Flash

Notice the excess light bleeding over the top of my head. Adjusting the camera focus was also a pain, resulting in half of the images being out of focus. This being said, I am very pleased with the outcome and feel as though I have achieved a highly thought provoking shoot.

The only disadvantage with using flash is the distracting glare on the glass. Nonetheless, a very easy fix in Photoshop. I´m very tempted to square up the window too. I eventually chose not to include the phone, hence one hand being under the table. 

I have found the post production to be rather challenging throughout this project, particularly in terms of consistency. This means painstakingly matching a massive variety of ambient lighting conditions and skin tones. Achieving a fairly natural aesthetic has also been fairly complicated, as any adjustments to the overall image, subsequently affect the sitters complexion.



Tweaking the colors individually lets me manage the color balance, making slight adjustments until theres no dominant overtones or noticeable tints. Then I will raise the luminance of specific hues, such as the oranges or yellows in this case, to retain some detail in the face. Even muting certain colors when necessary. The window called for some straightening, which also led me to crop with even spacing either side and remove the glare.

Cleeve Hill

Having decided not to use the plastic bag images, I set out to recreate a similar piece, on the summit of Cleeve hill.
It was the contrast between natural and artificial which caught my attention last time, whilst comparing the temporary beauty of a tree blossoming to the industrial indestructibility of a carrier bag.
Although this element appears to be lacking, there is still some tension between the freedom and openness of the sky and flora, against the restrictive suffocation of a tight nylon. Additionally, I find a lot of visual satisfaction in the complimentary colors, warm tones wrapping around the bottom, with a cooler palette washing over the sky, almost splitting the frame in two.

A big thank you to Adreana for lending a helping hand with shooting this sequence, obtaining the same content would have been very tiresome using a tripod and trigger. I prefer the topless photographs, as I feel a sense of rawness and emotion which isn´t
present in the fully clothed images. Moreover, I am very fond of my head positioned in the clouds, the perfect analogy.

I was keen to try a few different posses and a variety of garments, changing the composition accordingly. This gave me a lot more freedom in the selection process, and as previously mentioned, a little more control when the camera´s not in my hands. Overall I am very pleased with the outcome and wouldn’t change much. The next location was a forest at the base of Cleeve hill.
Eager to explore the innocence of dressing up as a child, I borrowed a feminine nighting gown/dress, in the hopes that it would evoke the idea of playing fancy dress in your mum’s clothes.

The fallen log served as a lovely playground to test these ideas on, whimsically swaying from one position to the next. Imitating the playful aspect of childish role-play. I cant help but notice the balance between masculine and feminine in each frame, rolling
up the sleeves to reveal tattoos, whilst experimenting with more gentle and delicate postures. Still paying close attention to hand gestures. Nudity was also a constant as a child, raw comfortable nudity. Needless to say, an expression of freedom rather than arousal.

The only alteration I would make is; Capturing the scene from the other side. Unfortunately, the sun was positioned behind me, meaning the whole composition is back-lit. Not only does this completely blow the highlights, it also flattens the darker areas, consequently loosing precious details. I was able to pull out some of my facial structure through the fabric with a radial filter, whilst
warming the skin tones. Then I adjusted the greens to be a lot dirtier and whitened the dress a bit.

At sunset I sought to capture myself against the city Id been living in for the past 3 years, using the same flash technique as Josh’s car and the train. Although there is great potential here, I believe the two previous locations held more value
and resulted in stronger photographs.

Coming Home

I was presented with an empty platform on the journey back to my uncles, before returning to Spain the following day. Seeing as I had an hour to wait for my connection, I utilized the time to further develop my self portrait section of the series.
In a similar league to the train content, but perhaps a little less striking. Disappointingly, most of the contact sheet is out of focus too, even though I was very mindful of the composition. Fortunately, the very few that are in focus still feature the three central elements- Mind the step, the digital timetable and the train tracks. Furthermore, I eventually incorporated my satchel to assist this travel theme.

Travel has always played a key role in visiting family, whether its hearing about their rickety plane ride over, or experiencing the arduous journey first hand. Either way, the journey remains a sacred part of the ritual. The choice to use flash has become somewhat of a staple in the series at this point, both for practical and stylistic purposes.
I have grown a fondness for the aesthetic and deeply appreciate its connection with the disposable camera flash I remember as a child. When shooting these portraits, I usually frame a wide angle, mid and close-up, then do the selection process in post. So to have that variety of framing, I would distance myself from the camera to occupy more or less of the composition.

Such a shame the sunset was the point of focus here… At first glance the background being in focus isn’t too distracting. However, my intentions are to display the final series at a moderate size, therefore it may be an issue further down the line. Had I been shooting at a lower aperture, maybe it wouldn’t be as noticeable.

Still, I was surprised at how much detail could be pulled out from an underexposed, unfocused, RAW photograph. Especially concerning facial features.

Trish Morrissey

There are many comparisons to be made between Morrissey’s work and my current ventures, in retrospect I find a lot of similarities between Trish Morrissey’s family substitutions and the manner in which I have replaced family members with ominous figures. Instead of imposing and imprinting my presence in other families, I’m detaching from this family aesthetic in favor of a deadpan appeal. Trish recreates the family setting whilst I attempt to deconstruct it. Both of us have exchanged family members with an imposter, an intruder of sorts. Not only do we share this similarity, but we achieve this through an improvised item of clothing; In
Trish’s case this is most likely a piece borrowed from the female figure she replaces. We also share the fact that both families appear to be in discomfort, Although this may be achieved through very different methods, I firmly believe it adds to the appeal and intrigue.

There is a resemblance between Morrisey´s female figures and the role of a father. This ever evolving role, which can be encompassed by another man. As with my door to door project “These highly performative photographs are shaped by
chance encounters with strangers, and by what happens when physical and psychological boundaries are crossed. Ideas around the mythological creature the ‘shape shifter’ and the cuckoo are evoked.” (Morrisey, 2009)

Seven Years

Morrissey also comments on the ‘tropes of the traditional family album’ as with her other project Seven Years. Rejecting the idealised version of reality these staged moments convey, she claims that when we pause and smile for a snap it detaches us from the truth. Similarly, the likes of Nikki S Lee reminds me of Trish Morrissey’s photography, closely resembling the manner in which she naturally assumes the role. Less relevant to my series, yet still vaguely related through this notion of comfortably fitting into a foreign social circle Admittedly these occur to me as afterthoughts, none the less they are bound to influence the future development of this project.

The Mexican Godfather

In keeping with the stranger theme, I thought it could be interesting to include one of the newer members of the family. Joining roughly 6 months ago, Carlos Morriseys interpretation of a mother figure could also be applied here. The father figure is also a very transitory role which is often filled or substituted by others. My parents have had what some may call – a very dis-functional relationship. Dad fell in love with a sex worker over 12 years ago, while still managing to fulfill his role as a father. He built houses as a profession and would usually spend the night there. Whenever he did stay at home, they would always sleep in separate rooms.
So the figure was scarce, but still an extremely loving father figure nonetheless. And my mother, sheltered me from the whole affair and provided me with the most wonderful childhood. Eventually explaining the whole situation to me when I wad 18. They divorced shortly after and remain good friends to this day. Needless to say, Carlos is not taking that role as my father, far from it. But he does fill that place in the household. Blending seamlessly into the part, just as Morrisey merges into her scenes.

Pets also play a huge part in a family environment.
Puss, depicted above, has been in the family for over 20 years. The oldest living member (in cat years). I wanted to embellish on the idea of dressing up in mother´s clothes as a child, advancing from a borrowed white gown to my mum´s actual dress.

That same night, I was blessed with a terrific lighting storm. It started around 4 a.m, when I grabbed my camera to capture the event. Not having a tripod, I sat my camera on the window sill, and set it to a long exposure along with a narrow aperture. I would wait for the lightning to strike various times, before closing the shutter.

The storm progressively got closer and began to strike more often, yet there was no rain. Simply entertaining the idea of trying to incorporate myself into the image made me extremely nervous, to the point where I was trembling as I prepared to climb out of the window. I could feel a tangible static in the air, it was almost hissing in my ears, whispering this is a once in a lifetime opportunity

The flash was raised to fill in foreground details, and camera set to bulb mode so I can keep the shutter open until the lightning strikes. I also set the backround in focus with a relatively narrow aperture, in the hopes that the resulting depth of field would blur the foreground less. I used my phone to trigger the camera and flash, then moved to the side until the lightning flashed. Remotely triggering it again to close the shutter and thus securing the image. After a few attempts my shirt was eventually removed for a rawer appeal, if anything only adding to the surreal aspect. Once again paying close attention to postures and gestures, trying something different each frame.

As with the train self portraits, you’ll notice my right hand is concealed in every stance. Not only does this hide my phone, it also forces me to think outside the box in terms of posture. The image on the left suggests the flamboyance of flamenco, which might have been otherwise lost, had my right hand not been behind my back.

Fueled by adrenaline and the overwhelming desire to review the contents, I stayed up past sunrise just editing. The first step usually involves cropping and correcting the exposure in Lightroom. Then I proceed to do a bit of color treatment. In this case, I darkened and cooled the magentas in the sky, whilst muting the greens in the bottom left. In addition to a gradual filter over the clouds
Once a very basic edit is applied, I can judge the parameters of the image and how far they could be pushed if needed. (How much I had to crop, compensate the exposure, raise the shadows… All playing a role). I then move on to the selection process, typically narrowing the shoot down to the strongest few. This process is very automatic and conducted fairly effortlessly. For instance, any photos without lightning were immediately disregarded from the final cut, as were the images with a shirt on. Instantly halving the selection. Lastly, I closely compare the remaining images. Like a game of spot the difference, picking out tiny details. The key variables are lightning formation, facial expression and posture.

I found it especially difficult to choose between the final two contenders, Both with equally impressive bolts and both containing somewhat confrontational body language.. I came to the conclusion that; although the image on the left is more striking, unfortunately my foot is cropped out and overall it reminded me too much of a heavy-metal album cover. While the other image looks rather primordial, reaching for the heavens with a bareback and ape-like posture. Also, the fork arrangements are spectacular! One nestled at my fingertips, as though I had summoned the storm.

I use Photoshop for the final stage, further tweaking the levels, re-treating the colors and tidying up imperfections. Often using layer masks to brighten or soften certain areas, such as the face. When the image is to my liking, I tend to reduce any noise and sharpen a little, before exporting.

In this case, I had to edit the sky, the mountains and myself in three separate layers. Carefully adjusting them individually, to draw out separate features. I only raised the shadows in the mountain section to highlight the skyline, and little was done with the clouds. Seeing as the background was in focus, I applied a shake reduction filter to the foreground layer

My head had faded a little, from such a long exposure after the momentary flash I was in frame. There was also a rip in the tights which created two bright lines along my face. So, extensive reconstruction was performed on the hands and face. Last of all, I removed any distracting lights in the distance, and stitched everything back together for the finishing touches.

Final Evaluation

I envision a large scale display, with very minimal framing. For the final cut, I have decided to pair the formulaic sets with situational content. Therefore, there will be 22 images total, arranged into 14 frames. A thin black metallic frame, with an equally thin white mount. (Not included in rendition) Firstly the audience will be greeted with an artist statement, a brief body of text to introduce the theme.
The bottom row of images then serves as a visual introduction of sorts, featuring a situational shot of each individual, paired with a dark background image. These should sit somewhere between A5 and A4. Hung above are 6 of what I consider to be the strongest images. Printed at an A2-A1 scale, allowing the viewer to take a step back and appreciate the series as a whole. In the middle stands a pedestal with my book proudly propped open (should anyone desire to delve deeper). As for the printing process, a satin finish is most likely, seeing as many images contain deep blacks. (This would prevent unnecessary glare and provide a richer aesthetic.)

Critical Evaluation

I felt extremely compelled to conduct a visual exploration of an anti-aesthetic. Essentially attempting to define somewhat of an opposite to the idealized family photo album. The photographic venture has since allowed me to reflect on the nuances of family life, the tropes of my childhood, and the family members I am yet to meet. By no means is this a conclusion to the project, the series will undoubtedly continue to evolve and unravel. I see it as an opportunity to temporarily tie the collection together, in order to clearly identify its purpose and future trajectory. In a perfect world, I would have experimented with book layouts and design. Which, ideally could have been self published and printed on demand through Amazon or Lulu. In terms of the aesthetic, there is very little I would change. The stockings are my stamp on family portraiture, serving to detach and discomfort. As for the theme at hand; I believe there is plenty room for further development, with the prospect of including actual photographs from our family albums. For the next chapter of this project Id like to reach out to some of these other family members, which I am yet to meet, and branch out into an entirely new segment of the family tree. I’m sure the results would be drastically varied, as these are not people I am acquainted with. There is the possibility that they are entirely unresponsive to the idea. I am also aware of possible difficulties regarding minors, seeing as many of my cousins and nephews are under age. (Hopefully it shouldn’t be a problem with the parents consent).

1 thought on “Family matters – Behind the scenes”

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