Just One Thing
A Personal Photographic Project
The house is on fire. What would you save?
A couple of years ago I had an idea to shoot a series of portraits with a connecting theme. Last year I finally got around to starting. I had a few ideas and settle on the plan of photographing people together with their favourite and most treasured possession. I guessed (and subsequent experience with the project has borne this out) that women would have far more interesting stories than men 🙂 so I decided to focus on the ladies for my subjects for this project.
It’s the stories of course that ‘make’ the photographs. I think that every decent image should evoke a story but in the course of shooting this series of portraits I am finding the personal recollections and the reasons for choosing a particular object really interesting.
I’ve asked the subjects to choose something that means the most to them, for whatever reason. The thing you would run to save if your house burnt down. It doesn’t have to be sentimental, although perhaps naturally a lot of the choices are…it can be entirely practical. I remember asking my mum what she would choose and she replied “my car…”. To her I guess it symbolised freedom and escape. although I’m not sure what my dad made of that 🙂
If you would like to volunteer for this project, please get in touch with your details, the object you would nominate and a brief idea of the reason you would choose this thing. I would love to hear your stories and will choose the most interesting ones for inclusion in this series. The portrait session will take about 20 minutes and you will receive a complimentary hand made print for your time.
“My Grandad’s chair. Makes my sister cry, my mum smile and me feel like part of him is still with us. It’s probably worth nothing and it was a devil to get out of his house when he died and we very nearly gave up. But I’m so glad we didn’t. The last 18 months have been quite difficult for me but when I sit on it, it’s like he’s giving me one of his famous huge hugs (which his stomach always got in the way of!) and I feel wrapped in his love. There must be something magical about it as since it came into the house the cat hasn’t stopped sleeping in it…apt as he named her….maybe she is getting a hug too.”
“Grandma died when I was 12, I’m 40 this year and still miss her cuddles now. I don’t really know why it’s Grandma’s engagement ring that is so special to me as I never actually saw her wearing it she had such arthritic hands. My Mum gave the ring to me on my 16th birthday. I don’t wear it all the time but when I do it feels like a link to her, which is warm and comforting like she was. I always said I would wear it on my wedding day as my ‘something old’, but it was more than that, it was a little piece of her there with me.”
“This is Emu Mark II Lovingly bought for me by my husband Chris for my 40th Birthday to bring back childhood memories of my much loved and cherished emu in the 1970’s! I spent many a day reminiscing about my old friend, I was eight and he went everywhere with me and attacked a lot of people in true Rod Hull style. I remember my brother and I used to turn emu inside out and found him hilarious, all loose threads hanging everywhere, metal eyeballs inside out. In that form he became grandpa emu (the threads were supposed to mimic veins and wrinkles) yes i know sick but somehow perversely funny through the eyes of an eight year old. So on the morning of my 40th Birthday, when my husband presented me with a beautifully wrapped present with a pair of yellow legs hanging out the bottom, I couldn’t help but laugh and cry at the same time. My old friend was back. This may not be the original emu but when he looks at you sideways and turns up his beak you know he is up to no good.”
“This small wooden Buddha was given to me by my Aunt in South Africa almost 5 years ago to the day. She told me that it had sat proudly on my Uncle’s desk in his office for many years and that she would very much like for me to have it. My Uncle passed away when I was very young so I don’t actually have any real memories of him, just photos & stories. Sadly just before Christmas of last year my Aunt passed away and all of a sudden this small piece of wood became an even more treasured and very much loved item. It is the only thing I have that connects me to both my Uncle, Aunt and South Africa and now sits proudly on my desk, smiling down on me!”
“In May 2005 I took over the running of the local post office in Spencers Wood, not something I had ever intended, it just sort of happened. I came to the business with Dave, my husband and three young children who were very excited at the thought of living in the village and even more so in the Post Office. On our first Christmas here my eldest son Brad gave me a present that unknown to me at the time would become very special, a small figure of Mrs Goggins, ‘It reminded me of you’ he announced,as I opened the box, it was the funniest thing ever, I’m still not sure of the connection, old and grey or the fact we both run a post office, the latter I would like to think. Mrs Goggins was given pride of place in the post office on my counter, where on many occasions she has been commented on. The following Christmas, Brad gave me a another special gift, this time Postman Pat !!! (No resemblance to his Dad, I hope!) They can often be seen standing together watching the customers who come in and out of the Post Office. I still smile every time I look at them and wouldn’t part with either of them for anything.”
“The DVD of my daughters births is something that I think is so special. We had not planned to make a video but had been keeping a funny video diary whilst in the hospital ( I was in there for two weeks before Grace arrived at it was a way to amuse ourselves!) Anyway when the time came the nursing staff suggested that we take the camera to the Operating room too for the C-section which we did with some reservation.
The video is shot only at the nice end! It shows me meeting Grace for the first time and the expressions that I had, the excitement and the immediate love is written all over my face. Its so special and I love the fact that we have our first meeting captured forever. When it was Kate’s turn to join the family we filmed that too having seen how nice it was the first time and again you can see how excited I am. My husband had them made on to one DVD for me and it is so special. I cry every time I watch it and count my blessings to have been so lucky to have two such beautiful girls. I don’t look my best it has to be said but its my most special thing and the girls are fascinated too!”
“Orange was a favourite and ever-present companion of mine during my childhood years. He accompanied me on all family holidays and trips and would rarely leave my side. My nan created his jacket from a duster – hand made and stitched – when I became concerned about protecting his modesty on all our jaunts. Inevitably, I eventually grew old enough to be embarrassed to be seen with him. Orange has now faded to a pale pink and been reduced to living with my parents, which he loves all the same.”
“According to the label, the violin was made by John Sexton in 1731 in London. My mother, who was 7 or 8 at the time, was given the instrument by the family’s landlady in the 1930s. She gave it to me when I was about the same age.
I’ve played in many chamber orchestras and ensembles over the years and despite nearly losing it several times (I used to leave it on the school bus when I was a child) it’s still with me. I think the violin and I are destined to be together.”
“My dad’s brown trilby hat. He used to wear it when I was a small child and I always thought he looked very dashing in it.
He was a serving police officer with the West Mercia Force, so was often in uniform.
Sadly, dad died aged 67 when I was expecting my daughter (his first grandchild). After his death, I asked for his trilby as a reminder of him and it has come to encapsulate the memories of my childhood home and family.”