Misrepresentation and Ethics of my Subject

I have talked previously about the issues with misrepresentation within photography, but not specifically about my subject. My project, although not directly, is very much focused around the British Military, specifically the Royal Air Force. The fact Jo’s husband has asked to remain physically anonymous throughout the whole project is therefore significant. His wishes not to be photographed suggests that it could be a risk if he did. He still currently works for the military and I would not want to be responsible for publishing images of him that could present him in a way he does not want to be viewed. In the same way, Jo is the subject of my project and although her husbands role in the military is a significant part of the project I do not want this to overshadow her. Jo’s husbands job is a section of the narrative but it is Jo who is the centre of the story.
My original title of this project was simply ‘The Military Wife’. However, I now realise this objectify’s Jo – it makes her sound like she is only the wife and does not show her as the individual she is. I therefore changed it to ‘Jo – Life as a Military Wife’. It gives her her name and personality rather than referring to her through her husbands role.

Through using images that Jo has taken herself, or her archive family photos, I think this helps to prevent misrepresentation. Any photos of hers that I use are taken by her and therefore I know that she is happy with how the subject is being presented. She would not give me images that she would not be happy for me to use. For example, I feel more comfortable about using the images of her husband in his uniform because they are taken by her. They know between them what they are happy with being shown and what they’re not.
Working collaboratively with Jo has overcome any problems with misrepresentation, as after every stage I have shown her and only used images and text that she is completely happy with. I would not, and will not publish or post anything without Jo’s permission as this can lead to misrepresentation.

In comparison to some of the narratives I know that my peers are exploring, I am not focusing on on such a hard hitting and emotional story of migration. While some are looking at the migration of those who have come to the UK to flee their own country, or in search for a better life here in the UK, I am looking at quite the comfortable life of a British military family. Although I do not face the same ethical issues as others, I still need to respect the wishes and views of my subject Jo, and her family. This is still her life, and I do not want to portray it in a way that she is not 100% happy and comfortable with.


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