I’m having a slightly frustrating few weeks. The engagement part of my Open Eye Gallery Reflections project with Traveller women is very stop start, due to poor health/general life events on their side and school holidays etc on mine. It was picking up before the Easter holidays – I had a little run of a couple of weeks where I made several portraits that I felt happy with and did audio recording etc. I hoped to be straight back in when the kids went back to tie up loose ends with the women I’ve been working with – before finding one or two more. The idea being that now I have a general structure for what I’m aiming for, these should be quicker.
I even had access to a car much of last week as my other half has been away. But it wasn’t to be – I’ve had someone cancel on me almost every day and it’s all become a bit frustrating. In my heart I know this is just part of the process and I have to go with it – the project rollercoaster, as a photography pal and I used to call it. But I do find this stop-startyness (not a word) mentally gruelling, I find myself getting quite down in the dumps about it at times and I can’t always motivate myself to get stuck into other things. I just want to keep going, get stuck into work. But of course when you’re dealing with other humans – particularly people in poor health or with other more important things going on in their lives, it doesn’t always work out the way you want.
It will happen when it happens, it’s just a matter of keeping the faith. These things were easier to deal with in the past when I wasn’t working around family commitments and had more flexibility in my own time. Now it’s harder as I only have a few days a week when I have later pick ups for my kids. Not to mention the small matter of two school strike days and three Monday bank holidays over the coming weeks (Monday is one of my project days when I normally don’t collect my children until 5.30pm. Gah).
In the meantime though, all I can do is think through other bits of the project. I have edited some audio interviews with four participants and I have four portraits done – with one in the pipeline (although she’s going on holiday next week which is another blip in the calendar!) I’ve also been playing around with collage – not sure this really sits well within the socially engaged ethos of the project so I don’t actually know whether it will end up in the final output, whatever that may be. Sometimes ideas come easily but sometimes it’s really hard work. I’m trying to find approaches which work here. I find working in this way with my own images harder than using found materials as there is more consideration for the person in the image, with whom I have a relationship and am working collaboratively. These images are just practice runs using 6×4 prints but I’m going to now play around with larger sizes and see if they work. I’m not sure why but I feel quite drawn to playing around with the portraits in this way.