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9.I met Steven, the Carpenter. Extract from 'I Am your Mirror' photography project

Updated: Dec 14, 2021

Extract from 'I am your Mirror' photography book by Loredana Denicola ...

Then I met Stephen. I called him the Carpenter.

Steven is my ninth stranger. I met him online.

He lives in London, not far away from where I live, in Stoke Newington.

One evening I received his mail saying:

'Hello Lore, it sounds like an interesting project, and I would be very happy to help if I am suitable to you. I live in N16 - local. I would attach a photo but I can't see how to do it with Gumtree. Let me know how I can send you a photo. Even if I am of no use to you, I am also looking for someone to take a few photos of me for my own use. So since you are local, and if you need a bit of money, then there is that possibility.' Stephen

I replayed back, saying that I would be happy to meet him for a chat.

My idea was to photograph myself and twelve strangers that I would find through the Internet.
These strangers, 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.

Steven is almost 60 years old, he has a degree in Psychology, he works as a carpenter in London and surroundings, he likes his job very much.

He is a pleasant person, well educated, quite curious about life and meaning of life. He grows tobacco on his terrace, and he likes living by himself. We decided to meet in his place and have a chat.

He gave me his address and I went to visit him.

The carpenter | I am your mirror photography project | Loredana Denicola

I remember, it was a weekday, in the afternoon. He came back home from work, everyday after 3pm. He gave me his phone number, telling me he was waiting impatiently for me.

When I arrived I called him on the phone.

He gently answered telling me to give him 5 minutes to get down. He said that the stairs were a bit difficult to deal with.

I waited for him outside, then after a while he opened the door.

'Good afternoon' he said, 'nice meeting you Loredana'

'The pleasure is all mine,' I answered, 'happy to be here.'

'Would you like to come up?' He said..

'Yes of course' I answered.

I followed him.

Now I understood why the stairs were difficult to get on and off. Because Stephen worked as a carpenter, he had accumulated all his tools around the stairs. Everything was piled up and there was no space to move. There were tools everywhere, bricks, and concrete pieces, all around.

The staircase was a spiral and I was following him climbing the stairs with difficulty.

Once up the stairs, there was another door to get in his house.

Then a small corridor and after that we went straight away in the kitchen.

There was a big table in the middle of the room, with four chairs, two big windows, a single bed, a red carpet and cushions on the floor, a guitar in the corner, some coats hanged on his guardrobe and lot’s of newspapers cuts on the wall, behind his bed, with pictures and sentences/words taken from pages of magazine, newspapers etc.

I liked his place, it looked like a movie film set.

I went around looking curiously.

On the shelves near a fireplace, there were small car's miniatures and few artworks framed.

He asked me if I wanted a nice coffee, and I said yes.

We started to talk, he asked me many questions about my life, where I come from, why I am in London, why I was doing the project, what my father's job was, he asked me if I had a boyfriend and so on.

At that time I was in a relationship with a man older 11 years than me, who was creating me a lot of annoyance. He was always blaming me for his unhappiness and I do not know why I talked about it openly to Stephen.

He was listening to me with interest, asking me more questions, and it was funny because looking at myself from outside, I found myself comfortably sat on a chair, placed in the middle of his room, while he was preparing coffee.

I felt like I was with a psychologist.

Then, I remembered that he studied psychology.

The situation made me laugh, it was nice to see someone interested in who I am. He was asking me questions and more questions when I stopped to talk and I said:

'Stephen, I know you like listening to my stories but actually I am here to know a bit about you and how you wanted to be re-presented in my project. Do you remember my photography project?' I said.

'Oh yes I remember your project.' He said.

'You have to forgive me, but it has been a long time that I have been living by himself, and sometimes when I have guests, I like to talk with them. You are a guest today aren’t you?

You are not a photographer.'

Thinking about those words, that was true. I wasn't a photographer.

I went there to visit him.

'Yes Stephen', I said , 'You are right, I am not a photographer today, I came to meet you.'

'That’s right' he answered, giving me a cup of coffee.

'Here we are, your coffee' he said.

'You know, my life is boring! Nothing happens in my life. It is always the same.

I thought about why and I think that the main reason is because I am a old man, I am getting old and it is difficult to find someone to share my life with. That is why, I want to take part in your project. It looks interesting and for me it sounds as a very new experience, I can have fun.' He said smiling.