Extract from 'I am your Mirror' photography book by Loredana Denicola ...
Yasemin and Umit were the fifth strangers that I met.
I call them 'the family'.
One evening I found Yasemin's email on my personal account, I opened it.
My idea was to photograph myself and twelve strangers that I would find through the Internet. These strangers, unpaid, would be free to choose a time and place to be photographed.
They could express themselves as they wished, and could be anonymous, or not. I asked the strangers to look at the camera as if it were a mirror.
Then I asked them to write down a few words, something that could represent them.
Yasemin replayed to my advert on the Internet, saying that she was happy to take part in the project after talking with her husband, Umit. I was surprised at how open she was with a stranger, like me.
She talked about her husband's depression, how that depression brought darkness in her marriage, and how great was the light that the birth of their child brought into her relationship.
Maybe she needed to share her pain with someone, I do sometimes as well, and probably because I was a stranger, I was the right person for her at that moment.
It was odd that a mother, with a child, wanted to take part in my ‘I am your mirror’ photography project.
The advert she found on the Internet clearly stated that I was looking for people with obsessions, sicknesses, fears, and I wondered why she wanted to take part.
The ‘child brought light in the darkness', she said. She wanted me to represent this side of her life. I agreed, but honestly, I couldn't imagine the final result, as I didn’t know where they were living and what approach they had towards my overall project, if they were picky or open-minded.
We talked a lot through emails, about how to represent this light photographically. She came out with some ideas but I wasn’t sure if I could actually give her what she wanted. I think she thought that I had a studio.
I specified that for my documentary project, I was using natural light and photographing situations that happen in the present moment, that I didn’t have a studio, and that I would have used their flat instead.
She said that she was living in a small flat and they were in the process of moving to a new one in a couple of weeks.
I proposed some photos outside the flat, in the sun, and suggested trying some overexposure. But she didn’t like the idea. She didn't like the neighbourhood. They had some sort of 'racist attitude' towards them.
She seemed to have clear ideas on how she wanted to be represented.
When I began this project, I decided to accept anyone who wanted to take part as they are. I didn’t do any selection of people. I met them as they were. Some of them agreed, others refused, others disappeared.
I was more interested in seeking their co-operation and I wanted a true commitment. I didn’t want to convince anybody.
Everyone has a choice and they were free to do whatever they wanted, and free to show or not their faces. I thought it could be beneficial for some of them expressing themselves without any fear and judgment in front of my camera. There is a sort of magic that happens when you open up your heart.
Heart to heart communication is one of the most powerful conversations.
After a couple of days I received an email from her husband, Umit.
I got your email from Yasemin, my wife, I had a few ideas which I thought might be interesting. One idea I had for a picture documentary was perhaps the displacement. We are born and bred British people, I am brown and Muslim too so in UK I never felt like I belong and had many racism.
The country I originate from is Cyprus, its split into two, a Greek and the other Turkish.
When we go to Cyprus, they don’t like or want us back due to being British and religious now, and so we are left with no identity or place, this inspired one of my poems which I thought might go well with pictures to tell the story. In addition to this, I thought that a set of pictures to show the darkness and hopelessness that is depression which I suffer from and how it affects us in everyday, especially as mental illness is something being cut by current government. Again I have poems for this too if that would work. And my wife had an idea from darkness to light she already discussed with you, I believe. Just thought I would throw some ideas out’.
We exchanged our phone numbers.
After two weeks, Yasemin texted me, Umit was at home the day after, off from work, so I could go and visit them. They live in London, zone 6.
We arranged to meet at 2pm.
They wanted to get to know me.
I sensed a bit of skepticism, they were not entirely convinced.
I went to meet them.
It was a bit difficult find their flat.The flat was hard to reach.
I had to walk through a path in a park, and the streets were not clear.
So, I arrived late.
When I arrived, I waited a few minutes outside. There was a garden outside.
I rang the bell. Yasemin opened the door, giving me a smile.
Then she introduced me to her child.
..... to be continued ....
by Loredana Denicola
"Behind the Lens: A Photographic Journey with Strangers"
Short stories from the photography project: "I am your mirror" by Loredana Denicola © 2017/2018, All rights reserved.
I'd love to create a book! If interested email me to loredana denicola