Picturing You, Picturing Me
Picture You, Picture Me is a collaborative and explorative portrait project with my daughter Laoisha. Born in Galway Ireland in 2002, Laoisha has Downs Syndrome. As a consistent subject in my work, this series has naturally evolved from her curiosity and urge to stand on the other side of the camera, taking more control over me as the subject, and of the images taken. By directing each other through role-play and instruction, we decide how the other stands, which direction to face and even facial expressions, creating a playful environment where the camera becomes more than an artistic tool, but an instrument of amusement. The images are almost secondary to the experience, a fortunate by-product of the session shared.
By ceding a certain amount of authorial control, the resulting work creates an environment in which to explore the themes of collaborative creativity, child autonomy, trust and the relationship between subject and photographer. Is technical ability a prerequisite for creative control? Does the photographers participation as a subject influence the narrative? Can a reciprocal experience empower one to become a more trusting and genuine subject? These are just a few of the possible considerations this series instigates.
Picture You, Picture Me began as a curious journey for me and my daughter, and over the past five years has become a very personal documentation of our growth as individuals and as a family. This is our family album, one where I can see Laoisha grow as well as take ownership of her life and the camera. The project will continue to evolve as Laoisha’s visual language naturally develops, and will continue on until she either loses the desire to be the subject, or no longer wants me in the picture.
Emer Gillespie (b. 1980, Cork) is an Irish artist, currently living in Brighton in the UK. Graduating with an MA in Photography from the London College in Communication in 2009, her work is personal in nature, examining issues around motherhood, alternative family structures and the role that the subject and photographer play in creative collaborations. Her work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally including Family Narratives, RUA RED gallery Dublin, FFWE, Photographers Gallery, London, Altered States, Foley Gallery, New York, Shifting Perspectives, OXO tower, Southbank London and most recently The Space Between at the V&A Museum of Childhood, London. Gillespie is currently working as a photography lecturer in the UK.