I enjoying creating my project, Lucian, because of the connection i got to build with the subject. Although it was difficult interacting with another participant, as i had never worked with someone else this closely on a project before, the outcome was much stronger.
Lucian was helpful and quick with his returns on what i asked for, including captions and reflections on the book. He was very open to ideas, but had his own path in his head of the story he wanted to tell. He didn’t want to reflect on the journey from Romania, but the emotional journey he has been on with different people and activities. I found choosing the image selection the most testing as the images don’t necessarily relate to the captions, but what they remind Lucian of. This meant I had to mainly wait for the captions to the images before making a strong narrative.
The project made me realise the emotional content that a project can bring to someone. It was difficult for Lucian to reflect back on his emotions, and had some restrictions on how far he wanted to tell his story. This made me more emotive towards my subject, as we began a process of recalling his journey together.
To reduce any misrepresentation, there are no words such as ‘migrant’ in the book. It is simply his journey as a person and not a migrant. Although it talks about his movements, without placing this word in the book it doesn’t built the link that holds stigma.
I feel the book allows the reader to learn about Lucian in a way that one wouldn’t usually access. When meeting Lucian, you wouldn’t know about his fears or long journey to get here. So the book allows you to tap in to a deeper path that he has been on, which is further emphasised when reading it in a physical form as you hold the book to get the stronger connection.
I learnt a lot from this project, including working with other people to meet deadlines, how to deal with emotional content, and how small elements can cause misrepresentation.
I am pleased with how my final book edit flows as a story of Lucians emotions. I am fond of the front cover, making a peaceful entrance to the book, whilst displaying the depth in to his thought process and artistic talent. I decided to display the book in only one language, as on an online publication the second half of the book would’ve literally been upside down, making it almost impossible for people to read. It would’ve worked in book form, which would be easy to create if desired by copying the lay out of the book. I feel the full bleed images stand out strongly on the double page spreads, as the smaller images look slightly lost on the spreads where there isn’t an accompanying caption, due the two page view which connects the white together. I feel the text works well in its position, and the singular pages with the extra information stand out against the rest of the book, encouraging people to read them.
I wanted to print my final book as I feel it completes the process. I printed two books, one for personal use and one for Lucian, as it is nice for him to have a physical copy to reflect on and thank him for his collaboration. Seeing the book physically made it much more powerful in my opinion, as you can hold and interact with the work instead of simply scrolling through it.
I bound the inside pages with hot glue in the illustration department on the book maker, before pva’ing the front cover on which had been pre-measured and printed. I learnt this technique from the workshop with Mark. Everything fit perfectly and it was a simple process.
The blank pages made much more sense in print form, as it gives you a break from the information, where as when looking online the breaks seem empty. The full bleed images look really clean on the edges of the page, and no work has fallen in to the fold.
I made the book 10x8inches as i feel this is an accessible size to hold and look at. With the majority of the images being landscape format, it made sense to have it in this orientation.
When i printed the book on test paper, i decided i didn’t like the Thankyou statement. Although it was a nice thought, i feel it ruined the aesthetic in this area. I removed it to have a plain opening page just stating ‘LUCIAN’, mirroring the front cover. I feel this subtle first page now leads you in to the book, instead of giving you something extra to read before hand. I found printing the book before finalising the design very helpful as it allowed me to evaluate it as a real book instead of a digitalised copy.
When i spent 3 days photographing in Calais Refugee Camp, i met many refugees that i spent time with and photographed. In these photographs, are some of the men i formed friendly relations with. As you form relations with a subject, the nature of them changes to be more relaxed and energetic. Obviously behind these image the refugees have been on long, life risking journeys to get them to Calais, but in these images, it captures a moment of happiness in which they appreciate what they have. It could be misinterpreted that they have abundant food, but these are just the rations that they can afford and live off. It could also be suggested they live a joyful life, which is not the whole story of their bleak living conditions.
To avoid this misrepresentation, i could’ve included text and interviews from the men to provide context around their journeys and lives. Although i don’t feel images of refugees should be shown sadly, i feel images such as these reflect them as people and not outcasts, but text is a key factor to providing the context needed to avoid misrepresentation.
When working with a large group of refugees such as this, it is harder to tell the story as there is more information coming your way, and less time with each subject. I decided to work with Lucian instead of a migrant group to get a more personal approach, as if i worked with a community it would mean limited time, one or two visits with each subject/family, which means there is no relation formed. After learning this from the camp, i wanted the text to fuel the story.
After seeing the final edit of the book, i wanted to consider if any misrepresentation could come through the book. As the majority of the book does reflect on negative feelings from Lucian, he may be seen as a negative character that doesn’t look at life positively. But this is the opposite of Lucian – a light character that looks forward to every day with new hope. He also talks about multiple girls, which could make him look unstable in relationships. When referring to his family, although the information is somewhat bare, he does say he doesn’t speak to his family and only has his brother, which could produce an empathetic approach towards him.
I don’t feel there is any information or images in the book which could cause a large misrepresentation, but small facts that could form opinions. There is no text describing him as a migrant, not defining him under this title.
In a personal chat, Lucian sent me this message. It is rewarding to know that the project has helped Lucian reflect on his life in a positive way and enjoyed working with the project.
When working with Migrants, there is a risk of bringing up bad memories for them which can cause them to struggle with the project as they go through their own emotional journey. It is often helpful to have some kind of training to deal with the emotional side of this if the subject begins to struggle, to allow them to continue with the process. Sometimes, there are areas they would not like to share, which causes a barrier between the photojournalist and the subject as the whole story can’t be told, or areas may be missing. When dealing with a sensitive subject, close relations can often form due to the sharing of the information, but it is important to keep a professional relationship so the subject doesn’t rely on you for emotional support.
I sent Lucian the final edit of the book and asked for his reflection on it. He sent me this:
I chose to include this in the book as i feel it is a very emotive and inspiring piece of text, that really places Lucian in to the book. I used it to conclude the book, to end on a positive note that people can feel influenced by after reading his story.