I tend to greet everyone like a long lost friend. In case they are. I have over-compensated my whole life for my seemingly sketchy memory for faces with an enthusiastic greeting to all. Everybody wins. I had never given it much thought and I seemed to be getting away with it.
At a party a few months ago in unfamiliar surroundings, I was greeted by Rachel. ‘Hi Rachel, good to meet you!’ I said. She replied, ‘you have met me several times, and you never remember my face. I am a psychologist. You have Prosopagnosia’ she demanded. Vague? Maybe. ‘Arty’ possibly, but Pro-so what? I thought. Someone said to me that night of the conversation, ‘maybe that is why you take photographs? To remember.’
Well, that was it. It was on. I dusted off an old Hasselblad camera and started shooting portraits. No friend was safe. I love portraiture photography. The most simple of ingredients. It is intimate and needs to be so. There needs to be a shared element of trust. As a musician may describe a song as ‘three chords and the truth’, the same thought process may be assimilated to black and white portrait photography. I introduced elements of obscurity into the portraits to reference the challenge of recognition related to the Prosopagnosia condition.
In history, photographic portraiture has served not only as an artistic depiction but also a method of identification in the form of the mug shot or passport photograph. ‘No smiling, please. Straight into the lens’. It was my intension to blur the lines between these two portraiture genres. The project was an excuse to document the people in my life.
I look forward to printing the Prosopagnosia show in its physical form and walking through a gallery again with you all! See you on the other side. x
Prosopagnosia is part of Head On Photo Festival 2020 that is running from 2nd May - 7th May.