Photographic essay: The photograph as vehicle for mourning and remembering

This photographic essay operates as a free-standing strand, evaluating the significance of creative photography and the role it can play in the process of memorialisation. Since the invention of photography in the 1840s, the medium has revealed our changing relationship to remembering and death. The use of photography as a creative practice has become established and photography as a medium continues to be drawn upon by artists and scientists, as both a creative and documentary process.

The use of photography within the domestic setting, in family albums and personal mementos has always been present. Within the context of the growing ‘alternative’ funeral and memorial sector, and with the proliferation of mobile phone cameras, we have seen an expansion of photographs of the everyday and the autobiographical. Our study considers the effectiveness of creative photography, as both a research strategy and as an alternative or accompanying form for dissemination.

The four case studies (Heroes and Loved Ones; Countries Old and New; Who Was (S)he?; and Celebrating the Life) prompt explorations the role of the photograph in mourning, loss and remembering. From these case studies we aim to develop a series of responsive photographic essays.

The element of re-photography will be incorporated into the study as a tool to reveal and suggest the way the individual looks to elucidate meanings and memories beyond the literal – for example the camera as an autobiographical tool proliferated in contemporary society by the mobile phone; posting photos on digital sites.