Photo interviewing

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I have been experimenting with the anthropological fieldwork technique of photo-elicitation as I work on my Roma project. My initial attempts with Lida, a couple of which I put up on my blog, involved her writing down a few sentences in response to images – so far only photos from her own family album and photos she has taken for me (see a couple here and here). I’ll be continuing to play with this approach as I decide which of my own photos I’ll be using. Last week I had an initial stab at this with Ramona, again with images she has been taking for me with a camera I gave her. In this case it turned out slightly differently – Ramona is new to writing and very under-confident so after a brief aborted attempt I changed tack and recorded what she said. Doing it in this way has both pros and cons in my view. I quite liked the idea of using a little bit of hand-writing next to a select number of photos in my final layout, thinking it would give the project an extra something, so I’m a little disappointed that’s not really going to work. On the upside though, recording certainly results in far more thoughtful and insightful responses. The idea of this part of my project is that it is collaborative so I’m a bit loathe to jumping in and editing down responses for length. I’m realising though that my final layout is going to be pretty text-heavy, which is fine in some senses, I just need to find a way to put it together which doesn’t detract from the images.

And back…

I’m back from my Romania trip today in body, if not quite yet in spirit. After a week-and-a-half somewhat marred for me by illness and culminating with the 19-hour return journey from hell, it’s going to take my weary brain some time to process the huge amount I have seen and learned. I had a brilliant time and was made to feel extremely welcome by the family I was staying with, who let me shoot freely. Whether or not that freedom has translated into images which support the narrative which emerged before my eyes while I was there is another question, one which will take me a little while to work out. This part of my project is not over – I have a few things to do over the coming weeks to tie up loose ends with Ramona, while also ramping up the work with my other subject Lida, with whom I will travel to the Czech Republic in just over a month’s time. I’m not sure how both halves of this project will sit together in the end, or if they even will…in fact I’m still not entirely sure how the work will be presented. I’d be surprised if the second part measures up to the first in terms of its strength but I’m keeping an open mind, while trying not to feel overwhelmed at the very great but exciting task ahead.