My Mam and the Richard Avedon connection.

This is what a pair of black and white 6 x7 contact sheets look like. The subject is my Mam and the pics are from about 8 years ago. I sold the camera I took them on yesterday to a very nice man and last night, feeling a bit nostalgic, went rooting through old boxes to find any old negatives or transparencies shot on the camera. I was a big fan of Richard Avedon at the time, especially his work ‘In The American West’ where he travelled across the US photographing anyone he met in small towns on a large format camera against clean white paper backgrounds. The result is an amazing book of photos and extraordinary stories of the lives of ordinary people.

I suppose I was trying to copy that stark monochrome look when I photographed my mother at home in Kerry in our back yard. My Mam was and still is a very willing subject. I think she comes from a generation where there were very few cameras and to be photographed was a sort of an honour. Being recorded also marked a special occasion. In any case the pics mean a lot to me. I’ve marked two from the time that I must get printed, a full frame where you can see all the way to her white shoes and then a profile pic where I like the detail of the wave in her hair.

I also like the the photos of her brushing her hair.We had a tiny medicine cabinet with an oval shaped mirror in our kitchen and I must have seen my mam doing that very thing a million times as I ate my weetabix, or shepherds pie or whatever before flying out the door to school.