I remember last year we had a talk from Olivia Arthur where she spoke about her career and how she developed it to where she is now and it reminded me of the story telling she does within her work, the way she used narrative.
Olivia spoke about how she illustrates stories that journalists had written but she wanted to do more and make her own stories with her photographs. Olivia felt quite restricted doing this and as she explained that when we started to work on the Asian and European boarders doing her own work she felt she had ‘an amazing amount of freedom’ as she could now show her own stories. The project that Olivia done on the boarders was to photograph women of two different cultures, eastern and western. She photographed what she could on her journeys although some countries did not allow their women to be photographed and published. She was creating a large body of portraits from all the women’s houses she stayed in and was introduced too. When we were looking through these images you could see the differences between them, see the different cultures and how they all lived.
Olivia Arthur published her first book, ‘Jeddah Diary’. This book was all about women in Saudi Arabia, Olivia explained how sometimes the women would not allow themselves to be photographed as they did not want people to think badly of them. She said how some people always said ‘what would the neighbours say?. It seems as if they had to keep up this appearance not to be looked down upon. Some of the portraits are blurred, this is because some of the women let her take photos of them but then came back saying they didn’t want their faces to be shown. Olivia decided to re photograph the women but using the flash glare on their faces so it completely distorted their faces and you could barely recognised who it would be. When Olivia went back to show the women what she had done they were happy about it but also asked her if she could not blur so much so you could still see how beautiful the woman was, which this was quite a contradictory to the beginning where they didn’t want to see their face at all.
I remember Olivia saying how you have you love what you are doing, you have to love the story you are creating or else no one else will and no one will believe in it. – this really speaks to me in this project as I believe if I didn’t really love what I am working on or believe in my own project it would not be any good. How can I present and publish work that I myself am not happy with? This gives me courage to go ahead and produce a body of work that I am proud of enough to show to the public.