Putting yourself in the picture – Project 2: Masquerades – Exercise 2

Exercise

Recreate a childhood memory in a photograph. Think carefully about the memory you choose and how you’ll recreate it. You’re free to approach this task in any way you wish.

• Does the memory involve you directly or is it something you witnessed?

• Will you include your adult self in the image (for example, to ‘stand in’ for your childhood self) or will you ask a model to represent you? Or will you be absent from the image altogether? (You’ll look at the work of some artists who have chosen to depict some aspect of their life without including themselves in the image in the next project.)

• Will you try and recreate the memory literally or will you represent it in a more metaphorical way, as you did in Part Two?

• Will you accompany your image with some text?

In your learning log, reflect on the final outcome. How does the photograph resemble your memory? Is it different from what you expected? What does it communicate to the viewer? How? It might be interesting to show your photograph to friends or family members –perhaps someone who was there at the time and someone who wasn’t – and see what the image conveys to them.

I deliberated over this exercise for a considerable time and in the end, couldn’t limit myself to the notion of recreating a specific literal memory. I can be very sentimental and I love nostalgia. For me, childhood memories are all about the Places I grew-up/visited, and the People I knew growing up. I now live at the other side of the country and with the exception of social media, don’t really keep in touch with childhood friends. So, any notions of re-creating a memory based on places or childhood friends were out of the question if I wanted any authenticity. Instead, I opted to recreate a memory based partly on literal events and partly on how I like to remember myself at that time.

Right from the off, I had every intention of using my Son to stand in for my childhood self. Not only because I have a ready-made model in him, but because I like to explore our relationship through photography. Like most fathers, I see a lot of myself in my Son, and I try to raise him on the ideals and values that I was raised on. In essence, our childhoods will be linked by this, despite the technological advances and changing times that define the differences in our childhoods.

Memories: 1986-2015

In the summer of 1986, my Nanna and Grandad gave me my first camera. It was a cheap 110 Film Camera that was very simple to operate. Although I wasn’t immediately enamoured by the act of taking photographs, when I got my first prints back from the lab, I was completely captivated by the results. “I took that!” From that point on, photography has always been an interest. Although the camera only really came out on day-trips or holidays, I remember the feeling of using it. Inevitably, they are fond memories, reminiscent of those last hazy days of the summer holidays when I was full of childhood naivety. Whenever I was on the hunt for subject matter, everything and everyone else seemed non-existent. I was genuinely in a world of my own. After each and every ‘click’ I couldn’t wait to see how the photo would turn out.

Last month my Son turned 3, and at my request, my mum bought him a disposable 35mm camera. My Son is always trying to emulate and copy me, so this was designed as a cheap way to keep his hands off of my rather expensive DSLR. It didn’t last, and I soon had to get him a cheap digital camera to satisfy him. Watching him using that first disposable camera made me nostalgic. He is younger than I was when I got my first camera, but his awe in exploring the environment for subjects, followed by his excitement at seeing the results reminded me of those early days.

Memories: 1986-2015

Memories: 1986-2015

 Concept.

Like all fond memories, I wanted the image to be minimalistic and without unnecessary clutter. I also wanted to capture the nostalgia and thought it important that it not be posed, but caught as a genuine moment in a reportage style. I was keen to capture my Son using his camera without any prompting, but I also wanted to exclude his subject. This is because the subject of my photography when I was young was not really of any significance, it was the act of taking photographs that I wanted to capture. In order to communicate the image as a memory of times gone by, I wanted to create a ‘dreamy’ feel with blown highlights and soft focus. I also wanted a vintage feel to the photo with faded colours, some light leakage and a warm tone. I felt that I could anchor and reinforce the fact that this is essentially a self-absented self-portrait with my title, but decided against this. Instead, the simple title is hopefully enough to generate thought in relay with the image to communicate meaning to the viewer without insulting their intelligence. The wellies, believe it or not, were quite an important element. When I was a kid, I wore wellies everywhere.

I think that the photograph communicates fond memories to the viewer. I also think that it communicates innocence, wonder and intrigue. I believe that the photograph says a lot more about me than I initially intended, as it reveals aspects about my relationship with my son and with photography. It tells the viewer how I use photography to see and explore the world.

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