Tag Archives: Edward Chambre Hardman


Much, if not all photography is a way of looking at memory. Your memory, your family’s memory, the collective memory. A memory of a person or the memory of a place. Photos taken today will become memories for the future. Photographs are one way of engaging with the past. Marianne Hirsh uses the phrase ‘points of memory’ (Hirsh, 2012) to describe this. This memory can be personal – but does not have to be. Remembering the past, before you were even born, is a way of paying homage to it. Hirsh calls that ‘postmemory’ and discusses it in her book Family Frames together with other forms of describing memory and how images can be read in the context of the family. See Marianne Hirsch – Family Frames for an extended review of the book.

Annette Kuhn in Family Secrets talks about the way photographs trigger memory, both personally – in a photograph of herself as a child and collectively – in the photograph of a burning London with St. Pauls set against the smoke.  See Annette Kuhn – Family secrets for an extended review of her book.

Keith Roberts’s work on the Hardman Portraiture Collection of images of mainly servicemen discusses how memory can be personal or collective (postmemory) and can also be direct (something you remember) or a family memory. This memory can be invoked by photographs, which Roberts’s notes can be both an act of recall and an act of mourning. It also references Boym’s work on nostalgia (Boym, 2016) which again can either be reflective (looking at personal and historical past – how the images impact on the families of the servicemen) or restorative (looking a national past – in this instance how the images evoke WWII and its effect on the national thought and memory).

A recent book Project Cleansweep by Dara McGrath (McGrath, 2010) also talks about memory, in this case how the land holds memories and how images can reveal them.  War Sand by Donald Weber (Weber and Frolicking, 2018) talks at length about the memories held by the beaches of the Normandy invasion in WWII. He uses a combination of present images, stories and microanalysis of sand samples to tell the story of the invasion and the lives lost.

Memories can also be highly personal. Lesley McIntyre, whose daughter was born with a muscular abnormality that impacted both on what she could do and how long her life was likely to be, started documenting her life in photographs from when she was born and continued until her untimely death age 14. The book – The Time of her Life is a poignant memorial to a life lived fully (McIntyre, 2004).

A quick look at my shelves warns me that this list of books about memories could become extremely extensive – enough that it reminded me of where I started thinking about memory – much, if not all photography is a way of looking at memory. Making worthwhile memories is critical, hard and important both for myself and my family.

Reference list:

Boym, S. (2016) The future of nostalgia. New York: Basic Books, A Member Of The Perseus Books Group, Dr.

Hirsch, M. and Harvard University Press (2016) Family frames : photography narrative and postmemory. Cambridge, Mass. ; London: Harvard University Press, Dr.

Kuhn, A. (2002) Family secrets : acts of memory and imagination. London ; New York: Verso.

Mcgrath, D. (2020). Dara McGrath Project Cleansweep. Beyond the Post Military Landscape of the United Kingdom. Heidelberg, Neckar Kehrer Heidelberg.‌

Mcintyre, L. (2004) The time of her life. London: Jonathan Cape.

Roberts, K. (s.d.) ‘There Then : Here Now – Photographic Archival Intervention within the Edward Chambre Hardman Portraiture Collection 1923-1963’ At: https://www.academia.edu/12049291/There_Then_Here_Now_-_Photographic_Archival_Intervention_within_the_Edward_Chambre_Hardman_Portraiture_Collection_1923-1963?auto=download (Accessed on 24 March 2020)

There Then, Here Now (s.d.) At: https://hardmanportrait.format.com/ (Accessed on 24 March 2020)

Weber, D. and Frolick, L. (2018) War sand. (s.l.): Polygon.


Exercise 1.4 – Archival intervention

The brief for this exercise is to look though your own family archives and find a series of portraits that have not been linked together before and use them to tell a story.

 Looking though my family archives was an interesting activity in itself. There are 5 sections:

  1. My own images – mostly now in a digitised format and on Lightroom. However, I was not good at sorting them until recently – so finding particular pictures still means skimming at high speed through around 80 000 images, some of which are duplicates. Luckily the human brain is very good at recognising images of faces.
  2. My husband’s early photos – in a series of albums
  3. My mother’s photo album together with several shoe boxes of completely unsorted snapshots.
  4. My father’s photo album
  5. My father-in-law’s boxes of unsorted snaps.

I almost never got onto doing the exercise!


I started by looking at the images of Hardman’s service chronotypes. I considered using my archives to replicate some of this as my father was in WWII. I have several images of him in uniform, and later images of him dressed much more informally. There is an extensive essay discussing the Hardman collection by Keith Roberts, which, along with issues about ownership of the images, and right to look at them, discusses the theories of nostalgia and how it can be evoked by looking at archival portraits. Nostalgia can be ‘reflective’ – looking at an individual history and ‘restorative’ looking at the past of a nation. (Roberts, 2015). My father died when I was young – age 8 and all I have of him are limited memories – but these are always sparked by looking at these photographs.

Lorie Novak, in her work Past Lives looks at at how images from her childhood, snapshots, bring back evocative memories and how important photographs of family members can become when the people are lost, either to death or simply missing and how we learn to understand both ourselves and the world through photographic images.

Valentin Sidorenko in Roots of the heart grow together talks about his extended family. He says ‘Family members died before I could get to know them, talk to them, love them. Years later I started meeting them separately via our family photo archive’. He collected family photographs and has collaged them together to show the links between different branches of the family. He says ‘I started with a photo album of my mom and dad, which they kept at home. I wrote letters to other relatives, and in the end, I got about a thousand pictures. It was like a detective story. I think it was one of the most exciting experiences in my life.’ (George, 2019).


I decided to concentrate on images of my mother, who is now 95 and very frail. This still left me with an impossible number of images.

So, I carried on selecting down:

  • Images including my mother (Oma)
    • Images also including other family members
      • Images spaced well over time
        • Images that told a story.

At each stage I eliminated near duplicates.

This gave me a starting point. I have a recent image of her in a pensive mood. It is a ‘snapshot’ taken while she wasn’t looking at me and is very true to how she is now, in her chair, surrounded by blankets and scarves, next to her trolley with her essential items (pills, glasses, phone). I imagined her thinking back over time about important events in her life. I do not have pictures of all of these, for instance, I don’t have any pictures taken at either of her weddings. I don’t have a picture of her with my father, or with my stepfather. I don’t have any pictures of my grandparents – although I might be able to get these from my cousin.

Final Images:

I have a very early image, sepia toned, and poorly focused (probably because it is a photo of a scanned image of the original) of her age 4 and her two brothers (aged 3 and 2). It is composed with the 3 children standing in a line – although the youngest clearly was not co-operating. It was taken in 1928 in Germany – and this seemed a good starting point. I then chose an image of her holding myself at my christening. A formal image, with my mother in a suit and hat. The original image is small, black and white and there are several copies of it. Clearly it was an important day. Next comes an image of her holding her oldest grandchild (Alice) just after she was born. We have now moved on to colour. The picture was originally taken on colour film and has been scanned. The final image was taken in colour on a camera phone. The 4 images cross 91 years, a continent and 3 generations. I considered changing all the images to either black and white or sepia to reflect on the fact that they are memories – but decided to leave them in their original colours to both show the change of styles of photography over the time and also to imply  the more recent memories with the increasingly clear images.


Oma's Family (4 of 4)-2


It is difficult to imagine my mother as a child. My memories centre around her playing with her grandchildren. In a longer exercise, with far more images, it would be interesting to include pictures of myself and Alice at much the same age as Oma, as she is known, as a child. I have printed the images and will take them to show my mother and ask her what she remembers about them.

Contact sheets of initial family images:

Reference list

http://lenscratch.com/author/daniel-george (2019). Valentin Sidorenko: Roots of the heart grow together. [online] LENSCRATCH. Available at: http://lenscratch.com/2019/07/valentin-sidorenko-roots-of-the-heart-grow-together/ [Accessed 6 Aug. 2019].

Novak, L. (2005). Fragments and Past Lives – Gender and Culture in the 1950s. [online] Available at: https://lorienovak.com/pdfs/Novak_Fragments_PastLives.pdf [Accessed 6 Aug. 2019].

Roberts, K. (2015). There/Then: Here/Now Photographic Archival Intervention within the Edward Chambre Hardman Portraiture Collection (1923-63).

There Then: Here Now. (2015). Servicemen – There Then: Here Now. [online] Available at: https://hardmanportrait.format.com/untitled-gallery [Accessed 6 Aug. 2019].