Project 1 – Telling A Story

Exercise

  • How does Bryony Campbell’s The Dad Project compare with Country Doctor?
  • What do you think she means by ‘an ending without an ending’?Make some notes in your learning log.

When I view Country Doctor (1), I am instantly drawn by the way the photos look like still from a movie. The story of the Country Doctor’s life and struggle is evident and the photos compliment each other but each is different from the last. They flow together very well. Other than the Title, words are not needed in my opinion. The photographs are very strong and the struggles that lie within the position of a Country Doctor was very evident. However, there is no connection with the personal story of the doctor, he merely represents a character in the story of a wider subject. You can see the struggle, but from the outside. You understand that Country Doctors in remote areas are struggling and overworked. You can empathise, but you are (probably) not affected by this struggle personally. It highlights a story and makes you aware but does not necessarily resonate on a deeper level than that.

The Dad Project was different (2), not only was it the words that went alongside the pictures which gave the photographs their power but the power of personal experience. I found myself drawn in by the words with the photos serving to compliment them, the photographs alone did not tell the whole story, one reason being, it that this story has more complexities to it. Describing grief, even with words, is a very hard thing to do.

With The Dad Project, the photographer is personally involved. She is experiencing something difficult and exploring herself as well as the situation through the medium of photography as it happens and I understood why she explained that there really was no plan as she began to shoot. How could there possibly be? It’s not really something with which you can predict the ending.

Campbell has also chosen a subject with which the majority of people will experience in one way or another in their own lives. People can therefore relate, connect and re-experience their own grief as they discover hers. This creates an emotive power within the series for the viewer, it is touching and raw.

When Campbell describes her story as an ending without an ending (3), I believe she is describing herself. Whilst one part of her story has ended, her story has continued, life continues. There is an ending within, the series has ended, but there is never an ending overall.

References:

1. Smith, E. Country Doctor https://www.magnumphotos.com/newsroom/society/w-eugene-smith-country-doctor/

2. Campbell, B. The Dad Project 2011. https://www.brionycampbell.com/projects/the-dad-project/?overview

3. Campbell, B. The Dad Project 2009 http://www.brionycampbell.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/The_Dad_Project_Briony_Campbell.pdf