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 and 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 resulting diptychs are almost secondary to the experience, a fortunate by-product of the session shared.
Starting over five years ago, this project is still on-going, and we are still shooting together to this day. The project and image content will evolve naturally in relation to Laoisha’s ability to control the camera and the development of her visual language. 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 photographer’s 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.
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.