11 March: Update on the project

7 March:  I called into Catching Lives to see if any more disposable cameras had been handed in, but there have been no more so far.  As the weather has now taken a turn for the better, it is to be hoped that the clients have now taken some pictures and will return their cameras in time for the next Photo Day on 19 March.    If they do then hopefully I can include some of their work in my photo book which will accompany this project.

  • During the week I have been looking very closely at the images which I have taken so far to decide what to include in the book.  This has helped towards planning the layout of the sections of the book e.g one for portraits etc.
  • Initially I wanted to put a portrait, piece of writing, an image of their possessions and a photograph which they had taken themselves  together for each person. However each time I visit the centre some more of the clients that I had met previously have either moved on or are now in accommodation which emphasises the fragile, transitory nature of the lives they are living.  So  I have decide I will include a selection of the best images even if I only have one item about that person.
  • I have spent some time looking closely at individual images to see if any minor adjustments are needed.  This in turn has led me to decide that the portraits are more powerful in black and white but the possessions in turn are better in colour. There also needs to be uniformity within each section to provide coherence.
  • I also spent some time making sure the image sizes were correct and all are 300dpi.  I have had some problems with sizing in the past so spent some time seeing where I had gone wrong so that when I send them off to be printed they will come back exactly as I have requested.
  • I also realized that as I have now about six weeks before the submission date I have time to get some printed to see if I am happy with the result .
  • Looking at the work had also given me the opportunity to think carefully about what I may wish to exhibit in the Graduate Show in June.  So when the final copy prints are ordered I merely need to double the order to perhaps save having to repeat the exercise.

To return to 5 April: Final Statement  & Evaluation – CLICK HERE

28 February: Thinking about the project so far

As the project is progressing it is now time to reassess what has transpired so far.  It is interesting to see how things have developed and gone in slightly different directions than was originally envisaged.  This has been helped particularly by looking at the work of other photographers in similar fields, together with suggestions and invaluable guidance from tutors at Uni.

Whilst I was pleased with some of the resulting images from the last ‘Photo Day’ looking at Possessions, some of the images could have been improved.  For example the following image by ‘Robert’  would have been better if it had not been placed on glass  and the fold in the card was not visible at the back of the image.

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Whilst I may be able to rectify this in Photoshop I want the images to be as true to how they were originally taken with minimal adjustments having been made.  Also if I tried to crop out the fold it would cut off the top of the fruit.

So today I contacted Catching Lives to arrange to hold another Photo Day to develop the ‘Possessions’ theme further.  This time rather than set up whatever items they wanted to include even if they weren’t possessions, we will concentrate on what they carry around in their pockets which I am sure will be interesting.  So I have prepared a flyer and ‘sign in’ list and hopefully this will generate a  good response.

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To improve the images I will use a very pale grey card and leave out the glass so that there are no edges visible and the possibility of any unwanted shadows being created. If I set up in the same area as last time, there is good natural light which comes from a window high up to the right and together with a with a reflector  should enable me to control the amount of light.  Utilising the same area is useful as I know what will be needed as regards equipment and should be able to travel a bit lighter than last time.

To return to 5 April: Final Statement & Evaluation –  CLICK HERE  

 

14 February: Follow up at Catching Lives

I called today to give copies of the images to all the clients who had taken part on Wednesday, and also to give Robert a disposable camera as I ran out of them at the time.  They were all really pleased to receive the prints, and felt it was important to deliver them as soon as I could after the event, whilst the experience was fresh in their minds.

I spoke to James and he said how pleased they all were as to how the day had gone, and the fact that so many had taken part and really enjoyed it.  I was too, particularly as initially I did not know how they would feel about photographing their possessions. However once they realised what was happening and that their things were only precious to them, they were very keen to participate.

James also suggested that I might like to do a regular photography slot with the clients, so I said that after Easter once my work was handed in, I would give it some thought and call in to discuss this further then.  It also gives me time to think about possible ways of doing this to give the clients lots of variety.  Otherwise I will keep regular contact with the Centre and pop in whenever I can.  I also need to check if any of the clients return their disposable cameras so that I can get the films developed for them.

To return to 5 April: Final Statement & Evaluation – CLICK HERE

12 February: ‘Photo Day 2’ at Catching Lives

After a pre ‘Photo Day’ visit to check with James yesterday about moving furniture and plugs etc. I arrived early and was able to set up before the doors opened for the clients.

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Once breakfast was finished and I had a chance to chat to some of the clients and although it took a while to get going, once I had shown them what others had done they approached me to take part.

The corner worked well as there was not too much natural light, it being an overcast day.  I decided not to set up the mini studio as it would have been too restrictive.  So instead I used some black fabric to cover the table so as to emphasise the shooting area and some grey card as the background.  On to this I placed an A3 sized shape of 4mm glass on which to place the objects which would give some reflection.  A 24-105mm lens was used with the Canon 5D MkII camera together with a 580EXII speedlite and diffuser which softened the light source.  This was placed so as to look down on the objects, and using as small an aperture of f22 that the camera would allow  it meant that all the objects photographed were in focus.

It was a successful day as the clients and I worked together.  They decided what they wanted to exhibit and set up their own displays on the glass panel with a little encouragement in some cases.  Once they had looked through the camera viewer, they often decided to move some of the items or add or subtract others until they were happy with the result.   It was also very interesting to see what items were important to them or were representative of them as individuals.  One client included a mug as he drinks a lot of coffee and another included earplugs, a book and an orange because as he told me he always carries them with him wherever he may be .

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I also asked some of the clients to write a ‘Wish List’ for me – where would you like to be in say, a year’s time?  If you could change things what would you like to do?  It was interesting as to what was important to them, such as ‘getting new teeth’.  These pieces of writing, together with some of the images I hope to compile into a photo book and give a copy to Catching Lives.  I will also print out a copy of the images that were taken today for the clients to keep.  They were given a disposable camera for them to take some of their own shots which I will arrange to be developed it they are returned.

To return to 5 April: Final Statement & Evaluation – CLICK HERE

9 February: Volunteering session

My session today lasted from 11.00 – 3.00 pm and apart from helping staff when needed, was an opportunity to plan how best to organise my ‘Photo Day’ on Wednesday next.  I checked various areas thinking about where to site a table and felt that the following area would be best, as it is tucked away and will not prevent any of the other activities that take place from happening.  It is ideal also as there is a natural light source if I decide to use it in preference to my Mini Studio kit.  I do however need to insure that all kit is kept well away from the wall heater nearby.

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I was also able to check things like plug sockets and will need to bring an extension cable and a multi plug attachment, so as to be able to plug in the laptop and the lighting etc. for my mini studio kit. I need to ensure beforehand that all batteries are charged and ready to go and to have a ‘dummy run’ at home beforehand so that no bits of kit and things like gaffa tape etc. are forgotten on the day.

I was also able to take some pictures of what is currently in Room 101 where the clients are able to store their belongings.  It is hoped that on Wednesday they will let me photograph some of the things which are meaningful to them.

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I made contact with two new clients today Jim and Hardy, and as it was a quiet day was able to take some images together with asking them to do some writing for me (and sign model release forms!).

I decided that the best way to approach this was to ask them to do a ‘wish list’, rather than asking them how they were feeling.  It kept everything more ‘low key’ and they were more than willing to participate.  The results, like the previous pieces of writing were most revealing,  and I hope to incorporate some of these in my proposed photo book about the project.

31 January: Canterbury Cameras

Previously I had left in the disposable camera containing a colour film taken by James into Canterbury cameras to be developed.  Whilst we now have a colour darkroom at Uni I have only used it on two occasions, so to save time thought it would be easier to let someone else do it for me.

I called to collect the results today, only to find that there was only the trace of one image on the developed film that had turned out.  So as James has now moved on I cannot find out what may have happened, and it is to be hoped that any other films which have not yet been returned do not end up the same.  There are instructions on their use printed on the back, so I thought this would make things easier for those who were not used to using a camera.  So far however, James was the only person to return theirs out of the 10 which I distributed at the Photo Day so I am hoping that more will materialise over time.

26 January: Sunday volunteering

The Centre has been given some funding from a local church to cover Sunday openings during the period when the Winter Shelter Scheme is in operation.  So when they asked for volunteers I signed up to help staff for three Sundays from 11-3 pm.

I arrived at 10.48 and did not realise that it was not open for clients until 11.30.  So I ended up helping to tidy-up, empty bins and brush through etc. as there are no cleaners employed there.  Whilst four hours seemed quite a long time to be relatively inactive as I am so used to juggling various plates at one time.  It did however give me a chance to update what had been going on and to reconnect with some clients I had met before and meet some new ones.

I have had my last poster for the Photo Day printed on thin card as I felt the last one was too thin just on paper, I soon realised why Terry had said that paper was ok as two of the corners had already been torn off presumably to be used as ends for roll-up cigarettes.

Things that the clients came to reception to ask for when they first arrived were generally shower gel, deodorant, shampoo and items of clothing, including underwear and socks.  Many of them spent time on the internet and although it is intended to be used for such things as to search job sites, one of the Romanian clients was on Facebook and showed me pictures of his family, including his sister who is a singer, and is obviously proud of her.

Most of the time the clients were there they were either having a meal or involved in some activity.  So it did not seem the right time to sit down with many of them as I had hoped and try to get their life stories, or at least how they had come to be in the Centre in Canterbury.  However I was able to sit with Ioannis, who I had taken some pictures of at one of the night shelters; and he was more than happy to tell me about his life so far for my project.

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13 January: Pre ‘Photo Day 2’ visit to Catching Lives

Today I dropped off the flyers to the Centre so that the clients will have time to think about what they may like to have photographed and to sign up for the Photo Day.  The objects will be a valuable insight into their lives and what is of importance to them.

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To return to 5 April: Final Statement & Evaluation – CLICK HERE

10 January: More research

Nearly Invisible Photographs by Moyra Peralta, Writings by John Berger and Alan Bennett (2001) London: Lansdowne Press

During 70s – 90s Moyra Peralta made portraits of people she met who were living on the streets of London.  The website http://spitalfieldslife.com/2013/07/24/moyra-peraltas-street-portraits states that –

She “tried to show the human face , rather than the problem of homelessness itself because those termed ‘homeless’ are not an alien grouping; they are people of all ages and backgrounds, many of whom have met with crippling misfortunes.”

She goes on to state that “I want my photographs to rescue people from oblivion and celebrate their lives lived in a climate of disregard.”

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This links in with my project in that I want to tell the story of the clients who use the Centre.  One thing that does come across ids the relationship she was able to engender with the people she met was very different as it developed over a long period of time.  Mine is so much shorter in comparison but this does not mean that my work will be any less valuable as a result – I hope!

Looking at her images I wonder if anything much has changed over time and many of the problems are still the same.  The people she photographed could be those seen today.  Above all what comes across is despite the tremendous challenges the clients face, there is friendliness and evidence of humour.

Looking at Personal Possessions

I am interested in investigating this further through the forthcoming Photo Day as looking at belongings reveal personality and some of the interests of the owner.  As the life of the client is often so transient, perhaps one or several items hold special meaning or significance for him or her.  Perhaps their special item is too important to them to be shared with someone else or they may feel proud to do so.

André Kértesz took this image of Mondrian’s spectacles and pipe in 1926, which were obviously items of great importance to him.

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Moyra Peralta asked people on the streets to empty their pockets and pouches for her.  She sates in her book that, “They are identity kits… There is a mixture of physical necessities, with gear for keeping in touch with others in this world and the next”. “They answer the questions: who am I, and do I still exist?”

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This is why my taking images of the items which are precious to the clients, will afford real insight into their lives.  I am also hoping it will be an opportunity for them to tell me their stories.