Choose a community that you are already part of and create a photographic response to how this group informs who you are as a person.
My initial ideas for Assignment 3, which although not fully formed, had to change when lockdown occurred in March. It quickly became obvious that some form of remote image capture would be needed as nobody had access to people as subjects.
My initial idea regarding remote image capture was, whilst taking part in a WhatsApp video call, to use the other person’s phone camera to show their location thereby enabling me to capture selected images. In other words, I would effectively use their camera as a means of capturing images. But I couldn’t think how to portray a group that sufficiently represented a personal community.
My family then organised a zoom conference call to celebrate my brother-in-law’s birthday. This seemed like the perfect opportunity. In fact, it was decided to theme the evening meeting as a birthday quiz. the participants, all family members, were based in Portsmouth, Fareham, London, Oxford, Salisbury, and Southampton. The age range on the call spanned almost 85 years.
How do these images reflect on myself?
The most obvious way these images reflect me is the importance I attach to the idea of family. These ultra long-term relationships will have offered so many of us the stability we needed during the period of lockdown. The inclusivity, support and consistent shared values inform how we operate within the family context.
On a more fundamental level, the photographs signify that I am a down-to-earth, friendly, caring type of person albeit that I and the rest of my family are independent and self-sufficient. Despite our family closeness, we are nevertheless a competitive bunch. Hence the birthday quiz!
The human geographer, Yi-Fu Tuan notes that modern men and women are not rooted like ‘old-time farmers’. He suggests that mobility and individualism are features of modern times. This is obviously true for me and my family as we have set up homes throughout southern England. But as Tuan notes:
A feature of modern life is the range of technical means that link us instantly to distant parts of the world. We can always be elsewhere (1)
Although each of us were physically in our homes during the quiz, using modern technology we were, from a mental viewpoint, back together in our temporary Zoom abode.
A final interesting thought from Yi-Fu Tuan
In a fascinating University of California lecture given by Tuan in 2011 called ‘Home as Elsewhere’, Tuan offers this thought – so very prescient given our recent lockdown experience:
As for human relations, home is customarily remembered as a cove of mental support and comfort, forgetting that it can also be a prison in which feelings that stew in a confined space turn into hatred and despair (1).
(1)Tuan, Y., 2011. Home As Elsewhere. Available at: <https://www.youtube.com/c/uctv/search?query=Yi-Fu> [Accessed 28 July 2020].