When I first started this project, I had no idea how to begin the task of finding a subject. The only thing I knew was that I did not want to focus on the arguably cliché way of looking at migration. As a class, I know a few of us where initially put off the theme of migration as we thought it would mean we all had very similar stories. I think what immediately came to mind for many, including myself, was refugees and migrants fleeing their country and coming to the UK for a new life and safety. This is a current issue and very fresh, but it has also been done a lot. After one of the first lectures where we talked through ideas and and what the title ‘Migration’ can actually mean, I felt much more inspired by this project. I knew from then on I wanted to try and find a project a bit different from the rest, one that focused on internal migration within the UK rather than looking at stories of people migrating to the UK from other countries. Despite deciding this, I had no idea what exactly I could focus on. I felt that I needed to get people to come to me rather than me trying to seek and find interesting stories. I attempted sending emails out, putting up signs in shop windows and on online notice boards but all of these methods proved unsuccessful. Only 2 places in town accepted my notice, and I did not get any response from them. I then had the idea of posting on a Cheltenham based Facebook group. I am part of one for my local town that people are constantly commenting on and posting in, so I thought this would be the perfect platform to reach out to people. This proved successful as almost immediately I had people liking and commenting on the post. Only two people came forward to actually get involved however, but the second person, ended up being Jo – who my project is based around. When I messaged her to find out more, her story of migrating around the UK due to her husbands job in the RAF seemed like exactly the type of story I was looking for. I am really pleased that I managed to find a story this way, I think I managed to reach out to people who I may not have managed to if I had not done it this way. I also think this project is very different to the rest of my peers which I am also pleased about. I was excited about the prospect of the whole project then.
Initially meeting Jo was a bit daunting at first, I was going to a strangers home, and although we had spoken online and I knew she was trustworthy I was still nervous. When I first went to her home I did not bring my camera so I could just chat and get to know her and properly talk through the ideas I had for my project. Over time I have felt like I have really got to know Jo, and even after that first visit I felt much calmer and at ease. She is an incredibly friendly and welcoming woman and we got along really well. Over the course of this whole project, I have been in frequent contact with Jo, mainly speaking over Facebook. I have built a relationship with her over these few months and we have both got to know each other and each others lives fairly well. I feel glad that she trusts me with photos, and information about her whole life. I definitely can see how working collaboratively creates a much stronger relationship with your subjects, you are encouraged to get to know each other more and you have to share ideas and thoughts before you make final decisions. I took all my photos over the course of three shoots, the only subject I was shooting was Jo in her home and in her little village, so I do not think I needed any more than these three shoots. The other images I have obtained from Jo provide further context for the narrative. I am pleased with the images I have taken from this project, but I regret not spending more time on taking some portraits. I think I could have spent some more time on getting a range of beautiful portraits of her.
I have really enjoyed using collaborative and participatory methods during this project, and as I have said before, it has helped me create a greater relationship with my subject. I think as Jo’s story hasn’t been enormously difficult or emotional, I have not faced difficulties that others may have. The only major thing I have faced is keeping her husband out of the imagery, he is very much a part of the story but his role in the Military means he does not want to be pictured. I do not think this has been a set back however, and I think it has improved the narrative and kept the focus solely on Jo. Jo has been so helpful during this process, giving me archive photos, writing captions and text and allowing me to use her social media photos. She has also been very useful in helping me with choosing images, there has not been any points where Jo has had much of a problem and she is very welcoming and happy with the ideas I have brought forward. She also was very engaged with putting forward ideas herself.
Creating the book was an initial struggle as I did not know how to structure it. I had so many sorts of images that I did not know how to begin. I had my own photography, Jo’s photography, her husbands photos, her archive photos and her social media shots. I decided to focus the narrative around her archive shots and then slotted in my own imagery in between, once I had this plan sorted, the book design seemed to come together fairly easily. I did however face some struggles with a couple of images and captions that I could just not get the best quality of. These two images decreased the whole effect of the book so I therefore decided to just get rid of them. It was a shame as it meant my structure had been broken slightly, however the amount of time I had left was not enough to properly sort these issues.
I have decided that I do want to be marked on the quality of the images in the book, as a selection of them will be my own work. Overall I am really pleased and proud with the book I have created. It is a shame I did not have the time to physically print it, but it is something I may consider doing for myself and Jo in the future. I feel like it would be nice to print and give it to Jo as a thank you for her help. I think the whole project has come together really well and it is what I had hoped for when I imagined it at the beginning of starting this module.