WIP Portfolio – The Final Cut

7 days to go before submitting the WIP portfolio so decisions have to be made. The first step is to engage help. Instructions. Which ones fit together in some sort of sequence as a story from one image to the next. Then how do they all come together?

I can’t ignore that this is the weirdest time of my life. I know why my wife, Karen, is going to Switzerland in January to end her suffering but logical thinking does not help with the torrent of emotions I am living through. We are having a beautiful time together but it is really hard to just take one day at a time. The project continues to help.

I took a look at the portfolio I entered at the end of Surfaces and Strategies.

In that portfolio there is a stronger sense of introspection, a lot of sadness and seeking to go closer with the lens to the visceral idea of a truth and beauty of me. In this module I have become aware of a more complete idea of me and my current state. The project has enabled me to see the full range of what I am at a moment rather than just trying to scream about the misery and frustration of living with Karen’s chronic illness.

I now see that I am in a tension that does have sadness but at the same time I am experiencing love, connection and support from others. I am sad but also holding myself together. I am strong and I am weak. I can cry and smile in the same day. This awareness has been a very helpful therapeutic process for me to see beyond the deep emotional schism within me.

As a work in progress portfolio I propose to hand it in with just a title and no other words. I want the images to create a visual story for the viewer. My intention is to raise questions, be thought provoking and to challenge the viewers curiosity and interest.What story they come up with is ok but I hope there is curiosity and an attempt to answer questions that the images raise. I have shown the images singly and as a collection to more than 30 different viewers. Reactions have been strong and positive with words like brave, powerful, emotional and moving used. It always interests me to know which images people like the most or would remove. It shows the subjective nature of considering images with the range of opinions often being so strong and so wide.

I have given thought to groups of images that might create narrative. In the following three images my thought is the question raised in the first image may have answers in the second image. The third image connects to the dancer in the second and the shadow across the face may also connect to my wife’s illness. The blue running through the pictures on the wall connects with the blue in the image of me dancing. Getting away from the logic of these three images I want my viewer to feel something from viewing them.

Another sequence that caught my eye was the following. A question is raised by the first image. Something about connection in the second and then it falls in to place with the third explaining the connection and possibly giving a reason for the first image. Again I am seeking to create an emotional experience for the viewer.

I have my starting images. The theme of hands throughout the portfolio starts with the embrace and is followed by a question. Why have I turned away and what does the redness in the hat signify? What does the body posture suggest?

And my ending image. Mornings are very tough as I start each day fighting dark thoughts. In this image I can feel my thoughts from that moment. The dancers legs in the background painted by Karen are poignant with the legs diagonally in line with the blue of my dressing gown. Hands again appear at the end in a protective posture. This image appears to make a strong emotional impression on viewers.

For this portfolio I have included images of those around me. So Ella my 8 year old granddaughter wanted to copy a pose my oldest son Alex and youngest son Daniel were making fun of.

This is her version of this image.

It took a €10 bribe but I eventually got Leo to participate also. The participation of those around me has brought smiles and connection and some thought provoking images.

There is a lot more work to do in this project bringing ‘me and other’ and ‘me and the world’ in to my visual narrative. I want to explore further what others have done but see this as an important step to creating a body of work that fully gets across who and how I am being. By this I have an idea that we never ‘are’ in a stable finished state but are in a continuous flow of change. The insight from the project has been understanding I am not just sad but am so many other positive things as well..

The bird image has been in and out. It stays in as it has created so much energy in discussions about it. Is it beautiful and a celebration of life now returning to the earth or a sad and depressing statement of something ending? I have my answer, which is not the right answer, because there isn’t one but I include it because of the questions it raises. Emotionally I have bowed down to those who could not face it as the final image in the portfolio.

Lots of images have gone since the start of this module. This one is ok as a separate title but is an example of an image I would like to use but does not fit with the rest. Hundreds of other images have come and gone in week after week of webinars, tutorials and peer reviews.

This work in progress portfolio will be the jumping off point for progressing the work in the next module. I have done early experimentation on sizing and placement on the page and can see there will be effects to play with these parameters. For the moment I want each image to be looked at on its own, have a lead in to the next image while raising further insight on the previous image. At the end I want the viewer to leave with a thought provoking and challenging visual narrative of The Truth & Beauty of Me.

I have to give big thanks for the generous inputs and challenge to my work to Clare Bottomley, Cemre Yesil, Laura Hynd, Gary McCleod, Paul Clements, Hilde Maassen, Nick Hodgson, Chris Jerry, Clodagh Moreland and James Bellorini.

Categories: Project Development SP, Sustainable Prospects

LEN

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
decisions.

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.