John comes to the ‘Echoes Group’ with his wife and as a full time carer. He seemed particularly keen when he found out that the project was going to be about photography – he was an active photographer and still has a Nikon FE which he was keen to bring in. The first ‘memory’ he worked on was of his wife – and very touching I think it will be, but I decided to buy him a roll of XP2 so that he could ‘remember’ what it was like to take pictures with an old camera and I asked him to make a self portrait. I had little or no idea what he would photograph, I thought maybe his house, some memorabilia, but I was a little shocked when he came in with thirty photographs of books:
It is important not to portray John from this small selection, not to decide that these few books represent him as I took the images from Lightroom at random not being able to see the titles. As I said there are about thirty three photographs all of different books. John had asked if I knew a painting by Picasso that showed half of the artist, as the artist, and the other half as a montage of his paintings – I said I didn’t, but he asked if I could portray him in that way – ‘to do something in photoshop that would reveal him through a notional portrait and his books.
I started to think about this as a representation of a person, I had asked for a portrait, well I think that these books portray John, who would I be to judge him differently? His ‘self-portrait’ through the titles of books, a representation of himself through the written word, but associated through an integration of an actual image of him and those books.
Of course, like so many others would do, was to look at those titles and see which title I could recognise, which I had read and which I knew I would never read. There were lots in each category, but I then began to think about what John had done in representing himself in this way – what he hoped to reveal and what he had hoped to conceal. Books to me are special, I have an attachment to almost every book I have read, I can’t abide throwing them away – I always feel as if I will need them, read them again, pass them down – something! To throw them out would be to devalue them, make worthless those words that have meant so much to me; so I feel some affinity to John already.
I needed a portrait and John brought me a choice a print and a negative (with a contact set including the image on the negative strip)
John wanted to to use the above image as the base image from which to make the photo montage, but he expected that I would use the print from the contact set. He realised that this print was small so he brought this very formal shot – below – as an alternative.
Here are two impressions of the book collections:
I’ll now spend some time integrating a composite of John and his books to complete a ‘self portrait’ as he sees himself. An expression of his identity