It seems ironic, but a not unusual fact that a great deal of photographers that I know are deeply uncomfortable in front of the camera. And because I am always behind the camera, I am absent from our record of photos of our family's history, despite being the primary carer of our two kids. It's something that has niggled at me for a long time, and no amount of needling Neil to take photos... well, he just doesn't work like that, so I think I'd thought I would just be the force behind the photos but never in the frame.
Our memories are so shaped by what is in the pictures - one of the reasons I believe in the importance of photography so much - shaping memories our heads can't possibly hold on to. All those photos my dad took back in the 80's of hiking in the Drakensburg in South Africa- knee high socks and short shorts(!!), big sunglasses, the clear blue skies and sand coloured grass extending into mountains in the distance. So evocative of the adventures we all had. In photos there are details that our memories seldom hang onto but once seen, we recall everything about the time... the way we felt and what has shaped us. Personal history making.
So. Coming back to my first point- I am deeply uncomfortable in front of the camera. Well, you shouldn't shy away from illogical things, right? So I've begun a Self Portrait project- with the aim of generating two portraits a week for six months... the theory being I'll get used to being in front of the camera- knowing what it's like to be you- my subjects, who I ask to let me in to your lives, and not mind this big black lens. I'll also get to play in an utterly inconsequential way. My camera, pockets of light, different compositions and slowed shutter speeds. All creative principles which I can bring in to my 'proper' work.
But an unexpected side-effect of beginning this project... with my children around... is that they find this whole thing hilarious and love to crash the party. These 'outtake' photos that are coming out of it are making me smile so much - suddenly I'm back in our history. The history of their quirky childhood where their mum chases squares of light around the house.