“Picture you, Picture me”

 

Picture You, Picture Me is a collaborative and explorative portrait project with my daughter Laoisha. Born in Galway Ireland in 2002, Laoisha has Downs Syndrome. As a consistent subject in my work, this series has naturally evolved from her curiosity and urge to stand on the other side of the camera, taking more control over me as the subject, and of the images taken.  By directing each other through role-play and instruction, we decide how the other stands, which direction to face and even facial expressions, creating a playful environment where the camera becomes more than an artistic tool, but an instrument of amusement. The images are almost secondary to the experience, a fortunate by-product of the session shared.

By ceding a certain amount of authorial control, the resulting work creates an environment in which to explore the themes of collaborative creativity, child autonomy, trust and the relationship between subject and photographer. Is technical ability a prerequisite for creative control? Does the photographer’s participation as a subject influence the narrative? Can a reciprocal experience empower one to become a more trusting and genuine subject? These are just a few of the possible considerations this series instigates.

Picture You, Picture Me began as a curious journey for me and my daughter, starting in 2008 when she was six, and still continues today. This is our family album, one where I can see Laoisha grow as well as take ownership of her life and the camera. The project will continue to evolve as Laoisha’s visual language naturally develops, and will continue on until she either loses the desire to be the subject, or no longer wants me in the picture.

Photography, by its nature as a visual medium, only shows the surface of what are complex relationships and subjective realities. There is a desire to examine and document subtle relationships in contemporary, re-envisioned family life.  As a participant-observer, these images are my own examination of appearance and existence, perception and thought through the visual exploration of my modern family.