I began working on this story in 2018, but it started as an interview project through videoing conversations between Dad and our family, capturing how his short-term memory affects his daily life. These were really the foundation of this current project, as it led me to realise the importance of humour in understanding how we deal with illness as a family, and everyone who watched the videos came away loving my Dad for it. Therefore, I decided to restart this project as a photographic collaboration. I feel as though it wasn’t a question of if, but of when I’d begin photographing Dad. He exudes personality and has no ego in his presence, it’s like he was always meant to be in front of a camera in this way.
What are the difficulties of photographing immediate family?
There are certain difficulties in photographing your parent. Sometimes I felt there was a sense of urgency to create work every time I saw Dad, which wasn't realistic and could sometimes taint the times we spent together at the beginning. But once I let that pressure go, I realised that the times to photograph came more organically and didn't overwhelm our relationship. Another challenge we’ve found is when we organise to shoot, we can’t guarantee Dad will be feeling up for it, as some days are more difficult than others. It had been tough for the last 3 months, as both Dad and I are high risk and had isolated separately to begin with, which made making images near impossible. But now we're back together, we've been able to make new work.
How does your relationship come through?
I think the most prominent parts of the images that show our relationship, is the notion of care and intimacy that comes across in the project. Dad and I are both very sensitive people, and I believe that shows in the imagery we create. Also, the sense of humour that comes across is definitely a reflection of our relationship, and how we interact with each other in daily life too.
Has photography changed your relationship in any way?
In some ways, yes. I'm definitely more aware of the nuances of Dad's memory loss. So even when we're spending time together, without taking photographs, I'll start spotting things I would like to photograph such as the Post-It notes, or all of his hats. But our relationship doesn't feel as though it has changed, more that we just have an extra thing we do together now.
What is the dark side of your father's condition? Have you and can you photograph that?
Physically, Dad suffers from severe migraines and gets very tired throughout the day. Mentally, it can be very damaging to his self-confidence at times. Dad often describes how frustrating it can be when he forgets something important, and how he can find it hard to trust his memory. I have got audio from conversations, but I'm yet to photograph these moments. I do believe in the future that we'll start to document the tougher times too, but as a daughter, I put the photographer in me to the side at the moment.
How will the project progress?