Project Update

My project is seeking to explore the experience of living with someone who is chronically ill. My wife has Multiple Sclerosis at an advanced stage. I have cared for her through the disease’s progressive decline over the last 15 years. At first the project felt real and visceral as I used my own pain to determine what I should shoot. This took me to images of my wife and her situation as an illustration of what I saw and what impacted me.

As I progressed with the work I found it increasingly difficult as it made me look at things I did not want to look at. I went through a phase of feeling it was too difficult. However, as I looked at alternatives for a project they all seemed light in comparison to this subject. As McCullen says

‘Photography for me is not looking, it is feeling.  If you can’t feel what you’re looking at, then you are never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures’ and ‘seeing, looking at what others cannot bear to see is what my life is all about’ Source

I am feeling something acute so it can be a source of creative exploration for my project. I began to think about what I am feeling and realised that needs to be the focus of my work. Instead of pointing my camera at Karen and all the things that are happening to her what can I do to point the camera at myself to discover what is evident from my experience within images of me?

These three images of me are all taken when I am in a pretty terrible state. In the first I am seeking to illustrate my internal state by placing myself against an abandoned building. In the second I took my camera out after a day of dealing with many problems with my wife’s situation. In the third I also had problems but formed a smile on my face.

There is an element of repeat photography here with me being the main subject. My plan is to take my own emotional state as a signal to take a photograph. As I do so I plan to record in words what my state is and what brought it on (to the extent I can understand that). As the body of work develops I will be interested to see if the pictures alone can tell a story or if a written narrative needs to be provided.

I studied Gestalt Psychology and wish to bring something from the Gestalt approach to my project.

The Gestalt approach has the basic premise that life happens in the present—not in the past or the future—and that when we are dwelling on the past or fantasizing about the future we are not living fully.  Through living in the present we are able to take responsibility for our responses and actions.  To be fully present in the here and now offers us more excitement, energy, and courage to live life directly. Source

Taking this as a premise says that everything visible about my current state is present in an image of me. I don’t know where this is going to go but two ideas arise. One is to find metaphors to illustrate something about my state as in the first image above. Another is to say my face or body alone is sufficient data for a viewer to work with.

I will now go in to action seeking to notice when strong emotion is present within me. At this point take an image and make notes. Then we will see where this goes.

Categories: Project Development, Surfaces and Strategies


I am a Photographer. As well as taking many photographs I am currently studying for an MA in Photography at Falmouth University. I will direct my attention through the lens of my camera for the next couple of years and see what shows up. I see a photograph as a little bit of magic capturing a moment in time. If successful it surprises and engages your emotions. It tells a story about the wonders of being alive or tells us what we need to change to make it a better world to live in. That is enough for me to get going and then like walking a 1000 miles, which I did across the UK in 2010, or walking 200 miles across Cyprus, which I did in November last year, it is one step at a time.

I was a writer. The title of my unpublished book was ‘You Would Have Done The Same.' It is about a successful guy in love with his wife who lets her die when he discovers her in the process of committing suicide. The title gives a clue as to what I think you would have done. The book is 200 pages long. I found it cathartic to write it but after two years of work and reviewing with agents decided it probably needed another 2000 hours to get the whole book up to the standard of some of the pages. Writing is great but it is a lot of sitting down so I decided to get out and walk, play tennis, play bridge, go birding, watch football at Nottingham Forest, Arsenal and Valencia and anywhere else if I can, meditate, cook and eat. I was a writer who has so far failed to become an author.
I was a young man who loved Mathematics and thoroughly enjoyed getting a BSc at Liverpool University. While there I went often to Anfield and the Philharmonic Hall. I was all set on doing a PhD until I went for interview practice at BP and got seduced by the excitement of an International business career. BP was a great adventure building trading teams and businesses in London, Antwerp, Cleveland Ohio and Singapore. Fabulous people and some great challenges and also very hard work, constant jet lag and lots of fun along the way. I married Karen, my stunning wife, and had the most amazing time with her and our three boys Alex, Tom and Dan. She has multiple sclerosis and we have taken on many challenges together but somehow keep creating a new normal against the horrors thrown our way. She is the love of my life.

After BP I decided to coach senior executives and quickly realized I had a lot to learn
about what makes people tick. I had a fantastic 18 months on the International Programme of the Cleveland Gestalt Institute. A great faculty and a
wonderful group of people on the programme. We studied and worked in Dingle, Singapore, Holland, Cape Town and
Lisbon. This also got me interested in the way we think and make decisions so I studied for an MSc in Psychology atUniversity College London in 2010. The
Masters was in Cognitive and Decision Sciences and I found it fascinating what
we do know but also how much we don’t know about how we think and make

I loved coaching and making a difference. I got a number of people to hear themselves, remove some of their own chains and free up the way they thought about the world. I remain fascinated by how people react to and engage with the world. My Masters thesis was why do two people given the same information make different decisions? Put simply, it is because each of us are unique in the way we are constructed.

Since returning from Singapore I found English winters tough so moved to Spain where I now live. The people are lovely, the scenery amazing, food delicious and the sun shines all the time. Almost.

All of these experiences will feed in to my time now as a Photographer. Three motivations I am lucky to have are enthusiasm, curiosity and a continuous interest in learning. All the time I look forward to meeting old friends and making new friends and experiencing this wonderful life together.