Regarding Family: Creating Powerful Relationships Through The Lens

Regarding Family

“Regarding Family” is a documentary photography project developing the themes explored during my previous “With Your Milk Mother” project.

Photographing my mother for my previous project caused me to reflect on my own family relationships.  As a result, I considered my relationship with my extended family.  My father remarried after my parents divorced.  Therefore, I inherited a huge stepfamily because my step-mother had six children of her own.

My step-family all live close to my father in Belfast.  I realised that this meant that my father saw his stepchildren on a daily basis.  I left Belfast many years ago and subsequently, all of my siblings followed.  We all live in southern England.  Consequently, my father has a closer relationship with his stepchildren than with his own children.

Project Motivation

I had met my stepsiblings many times on special occasions, however, I didn’t feel that I really knew them.  There are now numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren, many of whom I had never met.  Because of this, I made an extended trip to Ireland to spend some quality time with my extended family.

In many ways, this trip sent me on a voyage of self-discovery.  Firstly,  the forging of new relationships with my step-siblings gave me a new insight into myself.  Most importantly, I believe I found myself as a photographer. Furthermore, I developed an understanding of the work I want to produce in the future.

As a result, I gained a better understanding of a city, a heritage, and a culture that I had rejected and left behind nearly 45 years ago.  Consequently, I was able to better understand my own place in the world.  Likewise, I learned more about how people form their way of thinking and, as a result, their political outlook.

Similarly, it was fascinating to capture, what has become, a strange environment to me.

I think it is important to remember that documentary photography projects can involve a lot of time and travel.  Some aspects of the project can be beyond your control.  After all, you can’t control subjects who have to cancel at the last moment.

Despite its challenges, documentary photography is uniquely rewarding.  This is especially so when you are passionate about the subject.  Consequently, I am passionate about my project work.

Whilst I have chosen a totally different aesthetic much of the Regarding Family Project was inspired by Sally Mann.