Elvira and Me – final

So. It’s over. I’ve submitted all my MA work and now just need to physically hand my book in on Monday. Most importantly for me though, this afternoon I’ve given Ramona her hardback copy – which I wanted to do before I shared it online. The reaction was very positive and I am so glad I had the project translated into Romanian (cu multe mulţumiri Daniel şi Dorothea!) because members of her family were immediately able to check it out for themselves…who knows, maybe they will learn something about her.
But now I’m doing that thing which I so often do with my own work – I’m mentally over it before I’ve even showed it to anyone. The dissemination part is something I am fairly weak at, since if I’m honest I shoot/cover stories primarily to indulge my own curiosity. I stick things on my blog and show them to the few colleagues I know well but beyond that am never quite sure what to do with my personal work. Anyway I think this is actually the first time that I’ve been truly proud of a body of work, and I finally feel I’m really saying something worthwhile – no doubt because this project is a collaboration – all I’ve done in this case is act as facilitator, supporting someone else to represent themselves. I intend this to be the start of a larger body of work on the UK’s new Roma communities.

Please check out my book layout.

If viewing on Issuu is a problem, you can download the low-res pdf from here.

A couple of short clips of Ramona talking can be seen below – she has such an amazing voice that it seems criminal not to share her words. These are not part of my MA submission….


Romania outtake 2

I’m gradually separating the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, and working out a sequence and narrative for the Romanian section of my project. It’s certainly not easy, and the fact that everyone I speak to seems to have a different opinion about how I should go about it only makes it more confusing. As far as possible I’m going to go with my original gut instinct – one of my main issues being that I really want to make sure the tone is right, because the project is very personal. So many things to stress about in the meantime – the essay we have to write to go with it, all the various bits of interview and text I want to include, book design (my main fear at this point) and various other things.

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.

So it’s happening…

Today I’m going to travel to Luton by coach and then fly to small-town Romania, arriving early tomorrow morning. We’re going to Urziceni, a town of 17,000 people about 60km from Bucharest. What I’ll see and learn there I don’t know but at the moment I’m keeping everything crossed that people will be ok with the camera. I doubt I’ll have internet while I’m away so back in 10 days or so… ciao.