Affinity Portraits: When I’m Sixty-four

My first idea for this was to gather a few willing single-parent fathers to photograph, so I put some feelers out on social media.  I let it sit for a while because I’ve found there often needs to be a kind of ‘critical mass’ to get people to join in, as if they need to see that they won’t be on their own, which is perfectly reasonable I suppose.  But it never got that far, even with a shout out on the Gingerbread forum.  I had loads of encouragement from single parent mothers, oddly enough, but only three men responded and one of those was in Salisbury, some forty miles away.

I had to think of a different angle.

Somehow, to my surprise and slight alarm, I reached the age of sixty-four this year.  It all seems to have happened in a bit of a rush but I suspect it has felt the same for plenty of other blokes, so I set about gathering a group of sixty-four year olds as subjects.  Seems there are plenty of these around and at the time I didn’t feel like there was too much of a hurry to photograph them because I didn’t see the pandemic on the horizon.  I did three, but by the time I got to the fourth things had started to get panicky and he didn’t get out of his car, and the remaining volunteers understandably postponed.  I was content to photograph the only remaining willing participant (me) so I did end up with a set of five.

One of the subjects gave me an idea for another series which I’d like to do sometime – The Interesting Chap.  It’s quite bohemian in my local area, rural but funky, so I anticipate a ready supply of willing participants.

Technically these are adequate and undemanding, the only slightly involved photograph was the bus stop, where I had a beauty dish on a pole to lift the very dull, rainy Sunday morning.  I was amused to learn that after putting the picture up on his Facebook page, the subject had numerous comments asking if he was starring in some new Scandi-Noir production.

In future assignments I promise myself that I will never mix landscape and portrait orientation.

I wondered to myself whether the theme – being sixty-four – is detectable in the pictures themselves but I concluded that it isn’t.  They illustrate the idea but are themselves mute.  They offer the viewer further information, even some interesting detail, but they aren’t really capable of conveying the basic idea; they need a ‘leg-up’ before they can begin to work.