Where are we?

The backgrounds of our lives are not simply brightly-lit backdrops or catwalks to highlight us, the subjects; rather, they inform and direct us – positively or negatively – and become part of the fabric of our lives. Our backgrounds say a lot about who we are and being aware of our environment is important in understanding our identity.

Do you feel at one with the land and belong in the countryside? What does an urban landscape tell us about its inhabitants? How can the spaces between buildings speak of identity? Your ‘place’ may be more psychological or mental than physical. Perhaps you are an introvert.

What does this mean about how you move through physical places? Or perhaps you have a disability. How does this impact your day-to-day life? Does it help or hinder your position in your current environment? These are questions we will think about as we consider the work of many photographers during this course but you might like to reflect upon them now in your learning log.”

Boothroyd, S. and Roberts, K. 2019. Indentity and Place, Barnsley, OCA

I answered some of this in my previous post about constructing an honest portrait of myself. However, it’s a really interesting thought.

For me I think my sense of place is internal, the words from ‘A Million Dreams’ kind of sum it up for me:

I close my eyes and I can see,
The world that’s waiting up for me,
That I call my own,
Through the dark, through the door,
Through where no one’s been before,
But it feels like home

A Million Dreams, from The Greatest Showman

I do like to either be somewhere familiar and safe like my home, or I love being alone in the countryside. This is probably why I enjoy motorhoming so much. I have my own safe place to travel around in and explore.

I don’t like crowds or city urban settings but I do enjoy watching people from a distance. Conversely I really enjoy one to one conversations with people and am inherently interested in other people, culture and what makes them tick.

I’ve always thought of myself as a ‘happy’ photographer, portraying bright happy stories. However, I’ve recently realised that alot of my photography is quite dark and that I enjoy low light. Perhaps I’m looking for the light in dark places, watching from the shadows?

These couple of exercises have been a bit like therapy! I’m not used to laying my innermost feelings out on a page like this. It is, in fact, quite liberating.

Exercise 1: Constructing a Portrait

● If you have a social media profile picture, write a paragraph describing the ‘you’ it portrays. What aspects of yourself remain hidden?

This the picture I’m currently using as my Profile picture on FaceBook. I really don’t know what it says about me to be honest:

I’m a woman of a certain age, I’m very pale, I wear glasses, I’m not smiling, my hair’s a bit of a mess and it’s not a particularly good photo taken with a phone app that blurs the background.

I might ask what others think?

● If you were to construct a more ‘accurate’ portrait of yourself, including various aspects of who you are, what would you choose to include? How might you visualise these things?

I don’t like to smile in photos because having suffered from a condition call ‘Bells palsy’ many years ago, whilst I was pregnant, I have a wonky smile which I don’t like in photos. Of course someone who doesn’t know me, wouldn’t know that and those that do, probably wouldn’t notice because they know how I smile! Does this make me look grumpy? Perhaps I am!

To try and construct a more accurate portrait, I think it would have to include so many things, I work for the NHS as Quality Manager, have been married, divorced and married again, I have 3 children, 7 step-children, 8 grandchildren and am passionate about photography, motorhoming and bullet journalling. I am a creative introvert who lives a lot of her life in her head. I am doing a degree in photography because I want to prove to myself that I am intelligent and can create good art. I use my art to express my ideas an opinions because I’m not confident enough to express them myself publicly. How on earth can I depict all of that in one image?

Having learnt in the last course that everything in an image matters, I’m definitely going to have think about this and explore a few ideas before creating my new image.

● Try creating a new, more honest, self-portrait.

will add my new image here when I’ve created it

Research Task – Identity

What does it mean for me, to be myself.

I have and have had many identities through out my life so far:

  • Female
  • Daughter
  • Sister
  • Mother
  • Nana
  • Wife
  • Divorcee
  • Single Mum
  • Married
  • Step Mother
  • Secretary
  • Charity Worker
  • Business Owner
  • GP Practice Manager
  • NHS Project Manager
  • NHS Quality Manager
  • Photographer
  • Camper
  • Motor Homer
  • Home owner
  • Renter
  • British
  • English
  • Student
  • Driver

I’m pretty sure there are many more that I’ve forgotten as well. I deliberately haven’t added any of my physical attributes with the exception of being female. It seems that we do like to put labels on people, Why?

The first ever identity I was given was that of “it’s a girl”. This is something, that for me, I’m ok with, and am happy to identify as, but that very first identity bestowed upon you, has and does cause a life long problem for some people. Not only does it influence the name you’re given, but also the clothes you wear, the toys you play with, your position in the family. It must be so difficult if you don’t identify with that defining identity.

I feel that I have a good sense of self within my personal life, but sometimes find that within my professional life, once people have decided who they think you are, that persona is very difficult to shift. This has led to me having to move jobs to reaffirm myself. I currently work with a number of clinicians who struggle with the fact I am not a clinician doing the same job as them. This I think, is more of a challenge to their own sense of identity, than it is to mine.

Saying Hello to my Tutor

Started as I mean to go on, by having a ‘hangout’ conversation with my new tutor. I immediately felt comfortable with him, which is a great positive start to the new course.

He had already had a look through my flickr feed which was a bit daunting, but at least he could see the breadth of my photography work and realise that I’m happy to have a go at all genre’s.

I gave him an outline of my initial ideas for the first assignment and was encouraged by the fact that he thought this could be interesting, he also suggested some ideas for enhancing the concept. This is great, I’m definitely going to work through this idea and see if I take it forward.

In the meantime, I need to keep working through the coursework, don’t run before you can walk!