Photographing the Unseen
When I first read about this assignment, I was apprehensive. I took me a while to come up with some ideas for what could be unseen. Eventually I made a list of ideas, which comprised of stress, memories, emotions, time, space, weather, disability, global warming and history. I narrowed the list down and decided to photograph disability/illness. I choose this theme as my mother is disabled, she also has fibromyalgia, which is an ‘unseen’ illness. I wanted to show the effect it has and what the problems she experiences are, for example walking. I did struggle about how to go about this, as I would be photographing something that cannot be seen. So I made a list of the symptoms that she experiences, and what adaptions had to be make and how I could photograph them. I want to show the effect it can have on day-to-day life.
For these photographs I used my Nikon D610 with a Nikon 24-85mm lens. I used aperture priority to achieve the effect I wanted. For the majority of the images I wanted the focus to be on one particular section and the rest out of focus. I found this worked well in the image of the tablets, as one is in focus whilst the small piles off to the right is out of focus, but the viewer can still see what it is. I also decided to use black and white images. I compared each image in colour and then in black and white, and I felt the black and white ones were more suitable for the theme. I found they reflected the emotion that I wanted to convey. It also drew the viewer’s attention without the distraction of colour.
Overall, despite my earlier apprehension I felt more comfortable with the theme I choose as it was personal and I wanted to convey the struggles people face with disabilities and illness that people cannot see. I feel the images work well as a series.
One of the main symptoms my mother experiences is pain, and she has to use an electronic recliner to help her get in and out of her chair. I experiment with different angles, showing the chair risen up, it down, and showing the control. But I found this one simple but on the remote it shows that the chair rises up.
Due to the pain and the stiffness caused by the fibromyalgia, she has to walk with a walking stick. Again I wanted to keep the images as simple as possible, just showing my mother holding the stick.
Other days to get around the house easy, she has to use a walking frame. For this picture I wanted the bit of the frame closest to the camera in focus whilst the rest was out of focus, and by using a wide aperture I was able to achieve this.
As I said previously one of the main symptoms is pain. I wanted to show the medication she has to take, but I didn’t want to show just a pile of tablets or the packets. So I choose to have the picture focus on one particular on with the rest in the background. This is one of the photos that I feel may have been better in colour, as most of the tablets were colourful, but I wanted to keep all the photographs in black and white.
This is a photo of the railings that had to be installed outside of our house; again due to the pain and stiffness caused she has difficulty just walking in and out of the house.
Due to her disability she has a disabled blue badge, which gives access to the disabled parking spaces so it is easier to get to the shops and in and out of the car. This is another image, which I feel may have worked better in colour as the badge is blue, but for consistency I choose to stick to black and white images.
This is a common symptom of fibromyalgia, but one I struggle to photograph. I experimented with different images, but this worked the best.
Forgetfulness, also known as Fibro-Fog is a symptom my mother struggles with. It has a huge effect on her day-to-day abilities. But again I found it hard to convey this through photography. I also found it difficult to get the camera to focus on one particular word.
For this image I asked my mother to write down all her symptoms and how she feels on one page in a notebook and I decided to photograph it as I feel this sums up the problems people face with a ‘hidden’ illness, No One Understands.