This project aims to provoke conversation about what it is to be a man in 2017 through the medium of self portraiture and to further the discussion about what is needed to promote a sense of purpose and self worth in men of all ages. I lost one of my best friends in my early 20’s when he took his own life. There were warning signs but I was not equipped with a deep enough understanding of where he was at to be able to help him.
Suicide is now the largest cause of death in men under the age of 45 in the UK and is on the rise. I want to bring awareness to the need for men to come together and share their experiences and concerns and this lead me to connect with A Band of Brothers. They are an organisation that creates a network of male mentors to support young men in crisis and their ongoing discussion of manhood and masculinity makes them ideal participants.
I wanted to create a photographic process that would engage the sitter directly and enable them to really take part in the act of capturing their portrait. To do this, I felt that the person needed to be able to see the image that is about to be captured so I came up with the idea of shooting through a two-way mirror (the camera is invisible behind the mirror) while they can see their reflection.
Furthermore, they trigger the camera via a cable release under their feet, giving them control of when the image would be taken. Once I explained how it worked, I would leave the room and allow the sitter to take as much time as they wanted before triggering the camera. This gives space and time for them to look at themselves and engage with their reflection and how they appear, encouraging an interaction with their identity. This means that I do not have any idea what has taken place until the films are later developed in the darkroom. The 10×8 negatives are hand processed by me in my darkroom and then printed onto silver gelatin fibre based paper. Finally the prints are gold and selenium toned for maximum tonal range and archival qualities. I chose to shoot 10×8 large format as I wanted there to be as much of the integrity of the person present in the final print as possible and I reversed the negatives so that we only see the exact image that the subjects saw in the mirror; their mirror image.