Project Proposal


Title: Jeanie’s changing of life in Jamaica and Africa


Description of subject to be investigated:

For my final major project I will be producing a documentary story piece on Jean, an amazing woman who moved initially to Jamaica and then to Africa, changing her way of living from her life in England.  When she first visited Jamaica she began to meet people living in squalid conditions and these people she had met hit her soul.  Arriving back in England she could not settle or remain living the way she was living. She sold everything she owned to move from England to live a new life in Jamaica and, subsequently, Africa.  Jean lived the same way the poor people lived and built her house from pieces of wood, with no doors or windows.  She had been accepted by the local people as she lived how they did. During her time in Jamaica she raised thirty eight street boys who she had met in a rehabilitation centre; many of these boys were abused by police and she stood up to the police if she could, putting her own life at risk.  After moving to Africa at the time of the Ethiopian War, she walked the streets, during the curfew in the early mornings, putting her life in danger. After changing her lifestyle to the way people were living in Jamaica and Africa she had to come back to England due to falling ill.  Living in England again was like a new way of living for her as she had to adapt to everything.

In my final major project I am going to capture a series of photographs of Jean.  These photographs will include her current home environment in England. I am going to photograph her in a location that is now her hometown, in a Birmingham location that is obvious, making close up portraits of Jean.  I am going to photograph her as if I am not there, just as she is talking to me and her doing her daily tasks like drawing or  looking at photographs, hoping that she gets to go back one more time before she ‘closes her eyes’.  To finish off I am going to photograph her outside her home

I am planning to record Jean on audio and the edited piece of Jean’s story will be part of the exhibition piece.  The audio piece will enable the viewers to look at the photographs and engage with the character that is portrayed in the prints on the wall, so they can find out more about her and the life that she has lived.



From the research I have looked in-to Nan Goldin’s work and the way she had presented Ballad of Sexual Dependency.  She shows images with music that reflects the content of the images.  I looked at this because I am thinking of how I can present my own images and Nan Goldin’s work with the music I felt fixed to watching the photographs in the slide, and I remembered the photographs more. I am also looking at the documentary film makers Molly Dineen, and Nick Broomfield. I feel that from researching their work I can look at how they structure their documentaries and then reflect this on to my own structure and how I want to show my story of Jean and her life in Africa and Jamaica. From doing the research I can see each of the filmmaker’s techniques, from the introduction to the end of the documentaries.  What kind of audio is used in the documentary that does not contain the subject talking and what kind of background noise is used; also the way the subjects are introduced in the documentaries and how the documentaries end.  By researching and seeing each of the documentaries I can compare the three film makers and see which of their techniques of structure I like and create my own to go with the story for the audio.

In the work Figure and Ground by Richard Renaldi, he approaches strangers to have a brief encounter with the subjects he portrays, these subjects open his or her life to him and consequently to the viewer. Figure and ground presents portraits of people and their landscape which embraces not only the individual subjects but also the environment in which they live. Each person that he captures has a different look to each other and the landscape also changes with the character of each person.  I am going to research in to this photography work as I want to show Jean in her home environment, Birmingham, and I feel Richard Renaldi’s photography figure and ground would really relate to this photo shoot.

Stuart Manley and Shaun Mallen are Wolverhampton based photographers; I visited their exhibition called Little Brothers that was held at Birmingham Art Gallery. They produced photographs at a drop in centre in Wolverhampton; this project explored subjects of homelessness in British Society. In their photographs they show the subjects and they are not looking directly at the camera, as if the photographer is not there and these are the kind of images that I want to create with Jean when we do the home photo shoot. At this exhibition they also had glass cabinets that held items that belonged to the homeless people and this was also where I got the idea of having a glass cabinet for the exhibition that holds items that belong to Jean that connect with her story.

The series of photographs called Persons Unknown by Tom Hunter is another piece of work that I am going to research in to. Tom Hunter produced photographs that helped to save a community from being torn down by local authorities. In the media the area was said to be rough, giving the community in Hackney, in London, a bad name. The local people were given notices but squatted in their homes. Tom showed these people for who they really are, not druggies and rough as they were made out to be.  I like how Tom looks at pre-Raphaelite paintings to get ideas on how to photograph. I am looking in to his work as he photographs them in their home as they do their daily tasks again as if the photographer is non-existent; these are the style of photographs I am aiming to create when doing the home shoot. I feel when looking at his work it gives me ideas on what kind of places I can photograph my subject in her home but in my own style.

For the portrait research I am going to look at the photographer Brett Walker. I have always enjoyed Brett’s portraits as the photographs are so prominent.  In the work I also like how the subjects are positioned and how close up Brett photographs people. Another thing I like about Brett’s work is how the subjects don’t always focus on looking in to the lens of the camera, but you can still get a feel for the emotion that is expressed from each person in the portraits.


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