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Friday, 8 April 2011

Presenting work

The Father

I have put together a film which starts off with the definitions of Postnatal Depression from the health Professionals point of view. This then goes into the film of the James,the husband of the lady with PND. It is quite uncomfortable viewing at times as he is brutally honest. This then moves into audio of James which is illustrated by a number of abstract photographs and finally moves on to a conclusion interview with James.

Postnatal Depression - The Facts.

This presentation is aimed more at prenatal , postnatal women and their partners and health staff. I would envisage this being used more as a teaching video.

Photographic Album

The photographic album is synonymous with recording pivotal events in our lives. They often record symbolic family times and relationship bonds. The images we put into the album are images that we wish to recall as they are usually happy ones. We wish to hold on to these images emotionally as well as visually. An album  is normally organised to create a chronological  archive of our lives and therefore the narrative.
I am going to randomly spread a number of the abstract photographs on a table and then have an album of happy memories actually inside the photo album as normal. We tend to unconsciously edit out parts of our lives that we would rather not remember, like the bad hairdo or the disasterous nightout, We tend to leave out  the mundane events or the taboos.  Photoalbums can also be used   detect any undercurrents that may have been present that we were not aware of at the time. I am sure many a divorced person has gone back over albums trying to place when things went wrong.

By leaving the abstract photographs depicting the PND consequences on the table there is an indication that this event will not be one that the family will wish to remember. The happy family of the album cannot relate to the  anonymous bodies on the table.

Jo Spence narratives

If we include visual narratives with the usual oral and textual accounts of illness we can improve our social science understanding of illness itself. The visual is often more accessible to people and helps them to have more empathy.

'I Framed My Breast for Posterity'

The collection of photographs by Spencer criticised the way cancer  was not talked about openly and publicised that fact. I believe that this attitude has shifted slightly, but that may be partly due to the work of people like Spence. In the photograph 'Mammogram' and 'I Framed My Breast' there were issues with authenticity as both of these images were staged even though the actual event has indeed taken place. The question then rose, 'what is documentary'.

Documentary photography has always been considered certifiably honest and truthful. The word was first used in 1926 to describe Robert Flaherty's films to distinguish them from Hollywood fiction. In this respect documentary is considered to be truth. Is re-staging an event that has actually happened in order to record it still to be considered to be genuine? In newspapers and TV news stations this would be considered  totally unethical and false reporting, but should  social documentary photography be classified as something that records events to show the social world as it is? Documentary work is now often seen to be between the realms of traditional photographic document and the traditional art photograph. Often the viewer is left to determine their own narrative.

In this project on PND I have had issues with what is permissible or not. I had originally wished to do a piece that was based on fact, a 'true documentary project'. In the end I had to compromise and use a combination of factual - the video pieces, and the staged - some of he photographs that accompany the audio. This came about partly because of my main subjects relapse and therefore lack of true subject. I have tried to use the photographs purely as a way of evoking the feeling from the authentic soundtrack and I hope in this way I have not undermined the project.

As Susan Bright comments
'Contemporary photography has not lost its power to convey information as it did in the past; it has just moved on. Images are now more open to interpretation from the viewer, using ambiguity as their strength rather than an authorial voice dictating meaning.

Jo Spence

Jo Spence makes a very interesting comment about whatever she is about to photograph isn't actually what is going to happen to her.


'It is only the tip of the iceberg because of censorship and self-censorship'.

 I have been conscious through this project of just touching on the outer edges of the problem of PND. This has been for a number of reasons. Firstly the whole taboo aspect of the  condition has made it difficult to get people to talk about  their problems because of a feeling of shame, and also the fact that I am trying to illustrate a condition that I personally have not experienced.
Jo Spence documents her own journey through breast cancer and treatment. She had a desire to represent what was happening to herself and to others by using her camera. Ultimately she wanted to make this experience, the physical and emotional visible to others.
Jo became involved with Rosy Martin and the pair worked on Photo therapy. Jo  often recorded her observations of what was happening to her and around her, and found this very therapeutic. It allowed 
her to feel more involved and in  control as she shows her growing dissatisfaction with conventionally medicine and the NHS. The photographs she has taken are brutally honest and it takes a huge amount of courage to take such photographs, but due to this her photographs are enormously successful. Normally we take photographs of ourselves and edit them down to represent us in the best of lights or to fit into some group that we would like to think of ourselves being part of. H