Tag Archives: Lesley McIntyre

Assignment 2 – Anything You Can Do


The objective of this assignment is to provide you with an opportunity to explore the themes covered in Part Two with regard to the use of both studio and location for the creation of portraits.

This assignment is about taking what has worked from the above exercises and then trying to develop this further in terms of interchanging the use of portraits taken on location (street) with portraits taken inside (studio).

You need to develop a series of five final images to present to the viewer as a themed body of work. Pay close attention to the look and feel of each image and think of how they will work together as a series. The theme is up to you to choose; you could take a series of images of a single subject or a series of subjects in a themed environment. There is no right answer, so experiment.

One of the possibilities I thought about for assignment 2 was to take images of people within their own house, using artificial lighting. My final choice of subject involves this. The room has become the studio. This contrasts with my earlier images for this section which were almost all taken outside with natural light.


I looked at several photographers portrait work for this including Martin Parr, Christophe Agou, Paul Graham, and Walker Evans and also researched work done taking images of people with disabilities such as Louis Quail  in ‘Big Brother’,  Siân Davey with her work on her Down Syndrome daughter in ‘Alice’, Polly Bradon’s work with the learning disabled and people with ASD  in  ‘Out of the Shadows ‘  and ‘Great Interactions’ and Lesley McIntyre’s photoessay on the life of her daughter ‘The Time of Her Life’.  I also looked at Diane Arbus’s somewhat controversial work where she took images in a home for learning disabled people (Diane Arbus).  There is a harrowing film series done by David Hevey on disability which uses the contrasting images of then and now, to tell a part of the story about disability: see David Hevey – The Disabled Century for more information.

Taking pictures of people who are aware of you is discussed further in Project 2 – The aware and Project 2 – The Aware – 2. Most of the work that I found about people with disabilities either involved people with a learning disability, severe mental health problems, or severe physical difficulties.

Background Information:

This series is about a couple who both have autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). This is a condition (I refuse to call it a disability) that I have worked with for many years and, if I have learned anything, I have learned that the people with ASD and their families are not defined by the label. Each person’s story is different, each family’s story is unique, just as for any other person and any other family. To tell the story properly takes time, a lifetime, both yours and theirs. This is just a snapshot.


For this series I took images of a couple with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) and their young child. Janey and Rich were kind enough to invite me into their home and give me permission to use the images.  Unlike most of the work on people with disabilities looked at above neither of them has a learning disability.  Janey is an author, rarely seen without a pencil and a notebook, and Rich works with computers. Their motto is ‘Anything you can do we can do too’ – although, as Janey went on to explain, that does not include working at a busy supermarket till ( but who would really want to do that from choice).


  • I met Janey and Rich in their home. It was the first time I had met Rich, so he was naturally somewhat guarded with me, although eventually relaxed. We spent some time talking and then I simply started taking pictures of their interactions with each other, me and their baby. One of the difficulties people with ASD have is with eye contact, especially with strangers and this is evident in all the images.
  • I used a combination of natural light, the artificial light in their flat and a flash unit.
  • I visualised these images from the start in black and white, partly because it echoed much of the earlier work I had seen and partly because it gives a softer light and timeless feel to the images.


This was a fascinating piece of work to do. It fits within a much longer work I am planning about the lives of people with ASD and that of their families. I am planning to mainly concentrate on work with adults with ASD as little has been done photographically with this group.

The difficulties were:

  • Working inside with limited light
  • Allowing enough time for the family to relax without being there so long that I risked overwhelming them

The positive aspects:

  • Building a relationship
  • Exploring a new (to me) type of way of working



Learning points:

  • Be confident that you can do things
  • Relax and the subjects will also relax
  • Take enough images to allow for problems with the light

With sincere thanks to Janey and Rich.

Reference list:

Arbus, D. et al. (1978) Diane Arbus. London: Gordon Fraser Gallery.

Braden, P. (2016) Great interactions : life with learning disabilities and autism. Stockport: Dewi Lewis Publishing.

Bradon, P. and Williams, S. (2018) Out of the Shadows. Stockport: Dewi Lewis Publishing.

Hevey, D. (s.d.) Viewing. At: http://davidhevey.com/viewing/ (Accessed on 6 April 2020)

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

Quail, L. (2018) Big brother. Stockport: Dewi Lewis Publishing.

Siân Davey (2015) Looking for Alice. Great Britain: Trolley Ltd.


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.