I went back to Dove House Hospice to see Tania Wilson and have a look around the hospice, meet some people and hand in the volunteer application form.
Again I managed to get myself there early. I had a look through some booklets related to death and picked up a few:
Organ Donation is a bit separate from my project ideas, but I had a thought – not taking in account religion – donating organs is like providing spare parts for a different body that serves a great purpose -to live and fully execute the abilities that the body gives. Sounds strange, but I believe that our body and physical assets is just for us to get about and help others, love and live.
Getting the facts right about death and dying booklet is revealing the myths and gives an insight of how we should approach this sensitive subject.
Talk to children about dying booklet again is just there to explain the myths and gives information about how to help your children understand death. It is up to a parent how to tell the child if a family member or a friend passes away, but there should be that safe word or explanation. Also this is a subject to look into for the project Dove House Hospice have submitted for City Of Culture 2017, as I might be part of that.
Also I had a look around the hospice. Really friendly and homely vibes, I felt like I am part of an amazing place and community, great people and I can’t imagine the best place where to deal with death and share the sadness.
The garden is like a wonderland and I promised that I will photograph the garden and “photoshop” unicorns and angels, because I feel their presence there. Ha!
I also met lovely personnel and patients. It was a bit sad to realise the “end” for some, but if I am being honest – none of them looked down – all smiley, happy and full of life.
This is what makes this place special – the surroundings and people that do this amazing job of taking care of terminally ill.
BETTER LATER THAN NEVER – ANETE SOODA PHOTOGRAPHY FACEBOOK PAGE
How many times I have heard phrases: “have you got a Facebook page” “You should get a Facebook Page”
I am not someone who likes to maintain social life within social networking platforms – life is to short to be sat on the computer and phone.
But I guess Facebook page is not going to harm my photography business. Also I feel like this is the time when I have a good reason to have a official page on the worlds most popular social network – Facebook.
My postcard says: Find me on Facebook. It could be my personal profile, which by the way is decent and my timeline attends to be photographically relevant anyway, but according to some sources – not good for business.
I did a bit of a research first, more looking for profile picture and cover photograph inspirations and what photographers/artists usually combine together to make their professional “face” look attractive and interesting.
I also looked up photographers/artists that I follow on Facebook
Also I come across 7 reasons why it is suggested to have a Facebook Page for your business:
#1: Your Clients Are Not Your “Friends”
Using our personal profile requires us to be “friends” with those we wish to market to. The implications and meaning of the term “Facebook friend” cover a wide spectrum to different people, with some people reluctant to become a friend of what appears to be a business. “Friend” somehow seems too strong a relationship to some people for what is, after all, a business connection.
In contrast, the act of becoming a “fan” of a business page is generally less threatening to users; “fan” is simply less personal a connection than being a “friend”. Further down the road, if they decide they no longer wish to be a fan, it feels easier to “unlike” the page, rather than to “unfriend” someone.
#2: Don’t Hit The Ceiling!
There is a ceiling of 5000 friends for personal profiles, meaning that we’re limited to interacting with only a finite number of people. While 5000 might seem like a lot at first, it’s only about 1% of the population of a medium-sized city. I do know of several people who, having reached the 5000 friend limit, have gone to the lengths of creating a second personal profile, again something that’s in contradiction to Facebook’s terms of service, and which runs the risk of them being disabled by Facebook.
Business pages, on the other hand, don’t have any limits on the number of fans they can have.
#3: Keeping Friends, Family, And Business Separate
We really need to keep our personal family & friends separate from clients and other business associates. While we can do some of this through the use of friend lists, it can become cumbersome and prone to human error.
With a business page, your fans are just that, fans, even if some of them happen to be friends and family. As long as you maintain the good practice of always posting to and updating your Facebook page in a professional manner, your business updates will be relevant to anyone who “likes” your page.
#4: Social Plugins For Pages
Other than posting a simple link, marketing your personal profile outside of Facebook, for example on your website or blog, is difficult. There are no social plugins (as far as I know) that allow you to easily integrate your personal Facebook profile on external sites.
Pages are a different story – there is a wide selection of social plugins available to encourage people to “like” your page or comment on your content. These social plugins allow you to expand your sphere of influence far beyond that of your personal profile, increasing your reach to friends of your fans etc.
#5: Page Insights
Tracking and measuring your business performance is simply impossible when working from a personal profile, as there are no metrics or analytics available in Facebook to measure user interaction.
Pages, though, come armed with powerful insights and metrics that can really help us to understand how users are interacting and engaging with our content.
The search engines do not index personal Facebook profiles, so there is no SEO benefit to running a business from one. Having another web presence that can be included in the search index is invaluable in helping to drive traffic to your page or your website.
#7: Facebook Advertising Opportunities
We may as well face it – Facebook marketing has changed a great deal over the last few years! What started out as a great platform from which to broadcast our marketing is fast becoming a “pay to play”system, so we may as well get used to it
You may have noticed, for example, that the reach of your page posts has declined dramatically, and that not as many people are seeing your updates these days. The answer is paid advertising, something Facebook clearly has a vested interest in, but the good news is that advertising on Facebook is very effective when done correctly, something I’ll be addressing in a future course here on Zenologue.
However, since you can’t advertise a personal profile, this is yet another reason to add to the list for having a properly set up Facebook page for your photography marketing efforts.
Having all the resources, I also rang up AJR Photographs and have her wise opinion, as she is the marketing wizard.
The suggestion and actually the best advice: keep the Facebook page relevant to your current project and it will naturally grow and develop as you can change the page content according to the work and project at the time.
As I now frequently focus on Final Major Project “End Of Life” celebrations this is what I need to promote, also will work well with the exhibition and everything else going on at the moment.
I thought that the profile picture should be my precious logo. I hate white and love gray, so I combined both in creating a profile picture.
The cover page should be about the project “End Of Life” so I kept the similar concept to my postcards and other promotional elements.
The top one looked a lot more appealing, it also was suitable for the image crop available on Facebook.
It took me half a day to make it perfect and at the end I felt like I just gave birth to a child of mine.
The print samples from Ditto4Design came and I had the honours of making sure they are ready for the A0.
I was looking out for detail, correct colour, sharpness and overall quality.
Most of the prints were fine and as expected.
One print had a mysterious dot and I had to ask image owner if that is part of the image or it needs to be gone.
The darker images had some missing detail in the some parts and i had to ring up Lindsey from Ditto4Design to find out why.
It was a real problem to explain the problem, as Lindsey is not technically trained, but from what she could understand – it was the colour profile fault. If images are changed from RGB to CMYK, the colour profiles they use, it should solve the problem. As they have already done it for printing purpose, it was a big misunderstanding at the end and it appears that it is the general issue with the images. Poster effect is improvable within the original RAW file, but I had no time to test that. And to be fair, I did not mind that.
Some other prints had a similar issue, but it was to do with over saturation in editing and I left the problem to be solved by the image owner. Ditto4Design did actually show a lot of dedication and willing to go the extra mile for the client. Some students had a different experience, but as revealed later, the image that failed to print was not in the suitable standard. Unfortunately, they might have lost their patience by then, therefore some students had a different customer experience.
The postcards seemed to have no faults.
Now our job was to wait for the final prints, in the meantime write our blogs and promote the exhibition.
Dove House Hopsice visit never came easy, previously when thinking about emailing them or calling – I was petrified. There was an ongoing battle in my head of what would be the best approach.
I previously made some notes:
Don’t jump into taking photographs straight away – ease them into your project initial thoughts and thoroughly explain the reasons behind your ideas.
Give them photographic examples like Colin Gray, Sally Mann and Walter Schels to make sure they see that the end of life can be photographed in a beautiful way.
Explain that hearing people stories is important, because some could be interested in say something – wise words about life and how we should appreciate life given.
Tell them that I would like to create series of images around end of life and leave a positive legacy
Before the visit I was nervous, but was ready to earn their trust. At the end of the day – if they really don’t like my ideas, there is something wrong with y project and I better learn that lesson.
A bit about Dove House Hospice in Hull:
In 1979 the Societies of Beverley and Hull Friends decided to create a place where “greater provision should be made for the incurably sick in a loving atmosphere” and so the North Humberside Hospice Project was registered as a charity in May 1980. The first Hospital Support Nurse was appointed in 1983 and the day hospice began, run with the help of volunteers, at the building generously made available by the Sisters of Mercy at Endsleigh.
As the team grew, it was determined that there was a need for a bedded unit to provide the much needed services for the people of Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire. Unfortunately the current premises did not have the space required and so the search began to find a suitable site and the funds needed for a purpose-designed hospice.
Through the generosity of Reckitt & Coleman PLC who provided the grounds, and after many meetings, the plans for the two acre Chamberlain Road site were drawn up and work on the site began in 1987. The move from Beverley Road to the new premises on Chamberlain Road took place in May 1990, marked with sadness at leaving “an old friend” and excitement for the future.
Princess Diana Unveils PlaqueIn October 1991 the hospice opened its doors to the first bedded unit patients and on the 24th June 1992 HRH Diana, Princess of Wales, formally opened Dove House Hospice. Today the hospice is a core part of the health provision in the region, providing excellent services and support to residents of Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire. We rely heavily on the help of our volunteers and the local community for their support and generosity to ensure we raise the funds required to continue the excellent work we are known for.
The North Humberside Hospice Project Limited exists to provide a range of specialist services for people with a life-threatening illness and those who care about them, in order to maintain and enhance their quality of life.
– We will preserve the dignity of our patients and those who care about them, respecting their individuality, acting with honesty and integrity at all times;
– We will continually strive to review and improve the services we offer to ensure that they meet the changing needs of the people of North Humberside;
– We offer to share with others the knowledge and skills that are vested in our staff.
We believe that the patients, and their families and friends, are at the centre of everything we do;
We believe we should meet the individual needs of people with life-threatening illnesses and of those who care about them. These needs may be physical, emotional, spiritual and psychological;
We believe we should provide a unique and special range of services which are equally available to all residents of North Humberside;
We recognise that the service is provided by a wide range of people, all of whose contributions are important and valued;
We recognise that all our people, both paid and unpaid, can only give of their best when they are supported in their work;
We recognise the need to make the best possible use of all our resources, managing them and operating in a professional, caring and efficient way;
We believe we should provide an environment in which feelings may be openly expressed, and acknowledged with sensitivity.
Our Occupational Therapists help the patient with difficulties that affect the ability to do everyday tasks.
Here at Dove House Hospice we offer our patients the chance to have one-to-one appointments with our leading consultant who can advise patients on specific problems relating to their illness.
The Family Support Team helps our patients and their loved ones with the non-medical issues that sometimes run alongside life-limiting illnesses.
The benefits of Complementary Therapies include creating sensations of relaxation and calm, enhance d feelings of wellbeing.
Music Therapy is used at Dove House Hospice to help our patients with both their symptoms and pain as well as with emotional issues.
We have three clinics available offering one-to-one appointments to help with life-limiting illnesses.
Patrington Haven Holiday Park is set in beautiful, tranquil countryside and is an ideal location for all age groups.
Physiotherapy is used here at Dove House Hospice to help patients improve their physical abilities and promote independence using a variety of different treatments.
Dove House has taken advantage of a marvellous opportunity to purchase one of the Timber Lodges on Wycliffe Park.
The Wilberforce Unit offers 24-hour care and aims to help with symptom management.
Amy Johnson Unit
People come to the Amy Johnson Unit (AJU) specifically for the therapies and treatments.
Hornsea Day Care
Our new Day Care service supports patients who have been diagnosed with life-limiting illnesses, and their families in Hornsea and the surrounding area and is provide in partnership with Humber NHS Foundation Trust and Hornsea Cottage Hospital League of Friends.
I arrived early [as usual] and was greeted by Tania Wilson, Patient and Community Engagement Leader and Linda who also works in the marketing department.
They both were smiley and lovely ladies, interested in my project.
In fact, they were two people who completely understood me since I started the project and their response really surprised me in the best possible way.
Linda particularly loved the idea of photographing funerals, wakes and end of life. Sorry Linda, but I have tell the story about you and your ways of celebrating cats lives. Linda has picked up a habit of photographing her cats that pass away in a ceremonial way, arranging surroundings beautifully and capturing the last moment. It started when her son at young age asked if they can photograph their cat, who sadly passed away. Linda placed the cats body on to a blanket and her son brought some flowers and decors, arranged them and they both took a picture. The picture celebrates great life the cat lived, chasing mice and being part of the family.
Through out the story I could not get the smile off my face. It was beautiful and made me realise that there will be people like Linda, who will know exactly why I am into photographing “End Of Life”.
I told the story about my project, why I was in the paper and on the radio, where my Latvian heritage fits in, cultural interest and why the collaboration with Dove House Hospice could potentially be life changing for me and those who would like to say something about dying.
They both had some great ideas about how I could be part of their legacy and help people talk about death openly and without fear.
Dying Matters is an organisation that to helps people talk more openly about dying, death and bereavement, and to make plans for the end of life. This will involve a fundamental change in society in which dying, death and bereavement will be seen and accepted as the natural part of everybody’s life cycle. Changes in the way society views dying and death have impacted on the experience of people who are dying and bereaved. Our lack of openness has affected the quality and range of support and care services available to patients and families. It has also affected our ability to die where or how we would wish.
The Dying Matters Coalition is working to address this by encouraging people to talk about their wishes towards the end of their lives, including where they want to die and their funeral plans with friends, family and loved ones.
Talking about dying makes it more likely that you, or your loved one, will die as you might have wished and it will make it easier for your loved ones if they know you have had a ‘good death’.
Dove House Hospice gets involved with them as it benefits the patients and extends the experience their services provide.
So there might be photographic opportunities, stories to be build on raising awareness of the open conversation about dying.
Death Cafe is something really, really awesome.My reaction was pure happiness and I already see the future vision of how the concepts of talking about death could be changed.
What is Death Cafe?
At a Death Cafe people, often strangers, gather to eat cake, drink tea and discuss death.
Our objective is ‘to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives’.
A Death Cafe is a group directed discussion of death with no agenda, objectives or themes. It is a discussion group rather than a grief support or counselling session.
Our Death Cafes are always offered:
– On a not for profit basis
– In an accessible, respectful and confidential space
– With no intention of leading people to any conclusion, product or course of action
– Alongside refreshing drinks and nourishing food – and cake!
Dove House Hospice often visit Death Cafe or make their own based on the same concepts.
I would love to come along to something like this, because that might be the place where I could get the support and people with open minded opinion about openly discussing death.
Other events like Memorium Days, Day of the Dead and Before I Die wall are part of the Dove House Hospice legacy…a lot of interesting and project related things to get involved in.
I could see how I could collaborate with Dove House Hospice and eskimosoup regards to the “Before I Die” wall as we have recently discussed giving the access to the wall in different communities…
Also Dove House Hospice have submitted a Community Project for Hull City Of Culture 2017 where they plan to get children involved in talking openly about death, visiting schools in Hull, create workshops and creative sessions to explore what kids think about death, find out what they know about dying and also look at the cultural perspective. The end result is an exhibition that would tell the story about the project.
Dove House Hospice often organise evening events where they have different kinds of mediums in place, like films, speakers, workshops related to death and raising awareness. Or just making it easier to get the head around.
They asked if I could do a presentation and entertain Dove House Hospice patients for the evening…
All great stuff, really excited for the future collaboration.
They are “my people” and I am so happy that they even consider me to be valuable to be part of the great legacy they have been building for many years.
The next improtant step is to become a volunteer and go through the official process of becoming Tania’s volunteer.
Also I have arranged a second visit to have a look at the units, grounds and meet some people, so really exciting times ahead.
Unfortunately it is too late to hope for some imagery for Final Major Project, but it will be a great start for my “after Uni” project development and I can’t be happier about this opportunity.
The British seaside is a fantastic place, it is multipurpose entertainment and pleasure to the eye. For those who enjoy the sun-sea-sand-ice-cream-kids-dogs-beers-exposed body fat and million other things. And for those who just jump in the British culture madness and witness the beauty of it, the bizarreness of it and just wonder around absorbing the surroundings.
British famed photographers Martin Parr and Peter Dench have indulged in the British seaside for many decades. They wonder around the beach and intrude personal spaces and create a collage of British seaside scenery. Bold and saturated colours, weird angles and obvious presence is the key to success for them…what has changed now?
Last weekend I just had to get away from the duties of photographing, celebrating and writing about “end of life”.
Last weekend was the first HOT WEEKEND when I finally realized that May has sneaked up on me and summer is knocking on the door.
My mood was slightly aggressive and pissed off, as I was not getting the results from “life” as I would like. And I think that was the reason why I did not care about pointing my camera into peoples faces and their tongues sticking out to have a lick on their melting ice creams. I thought if I can sneak around bushes in grave yards, I can certainly do this…
And I loved every bite [bit] of it… so relaxing to be “that kind of a photographer”
My friend, who’s British have said to me that looking at Peter Dench Ibiza photographs makes her feel ashamed to be British. Whereas I find it revealing and funny. It is always good to be able to laugh about yourself, see the “dark side” and admit that we all have one.
Does Parr’s “Last Resort” is making British to be ashamed to be British or dead fucking proud?
I am proud to be living in Britain, be Latvian and take every bite out of this fascinating culture.
Thank you Britain for making me laugh, live, love.
Final Prints+Postcard Design+Promotional Video/Poster
The day before we had to go to Ditto4Design I had to make sure I have three final images and a postcard design.
The decision making was really difficult process, as I did not think I have reached a point where I have my final images, but time was running out.
In order to help with the selection, I created a Final Image Sheet. To have all images in one layout hopefully will help. I also sent the file to people who’s opinion I highly value and who are informed about my project, for them to pick three favourites.
Here are the final selection:
I picked them by looking on things like:
what will make an impact printed big
what will shock people
images that are reflecting the initial project idea
what could be appealing to viewers, mostly British
what sells my project
what sells my photographic skill set and “talent”
Here are the votes [red dots]:
There was a definite favourite – one the first images I took in Latvia. Funeral crashing. The main benefit was that the image would look impressive printed on A0, it also has got good composition, the editing helps to draw the eyes in to the old lady holding flowers and has a personal, important meaning to me.
Further selection was even more difficult.
I changed my mind for a few times.
But I choose the Momento Mori and Alison arranging her family belongings and early morning grave yard bench.
I tried to listen to my gut and I think the choice was genuine.
We had to prepare the prints before hand so that they are all 300px and A0 size. The quality had to be outstanding due to the A0 size.
We also had to have image selection [six each] for the promotional video. Video was to be created by Erin Ridsdale and all we had to do is to make our minds about the images we want to be seen on the big TV screen alongside the exhibition.
The reasonable choice was the remaining images from the Final Image Selection Sheet.
One last thing we had to do – promotional posters. Initially we thought that we will use Creative Future Module Brief “Still Life Photographs representing Final Major Project” outcome, but as a group we struggled to submit enough images to AJR Photographs, so between us we had two poster choices.
I was thinking of that one image that is a “poster material” and this was the choice:
As I have mentioned in previous posts, this image represents the End Of Life in a single concept. And the image is neutral and text can be added. This could also be a suitable image for a Facebook Page title image that I will eventually create.
So here are the posters:
Thank you AJR Photographs for all the hard work towards the branding and posters. As always, you have been amazing.
The next day we all went down to Ditto4Design and spent loads of money :]
This was kind of the most important days apart from the upcoming Degree Show, as we are committing to our final images and they will be evaluated at the show….
Just days before the deadline for the final image selection, I continued with the “desperate measures” theme.
I drive past Hedon Road Cemetery four times a week and it is always the same thought – what a line up – Hull prison, cemetery and a family home to someone. What a weird combination.
During my travels around cemeteries I never thought of stopping, until this day.
I had a good feeling that this cemetery is a hidden gem – it looks like an old and forgotten grave yard, covered in hundred years old tree arch.
And I was kind of right. That day was quite busy, so I didn’t had a lot of time, but I tried to find something that I haven’t seen in other cemeteries.
It was the old and unknown that fascinated me in this cemetery. There was a lot of derelict grave stones, already swollen by the nature, some still fighting against the gravity.
It was also very peaceful and quiet. I felt like I am in the middle of nowhere, although the area has got industrial buildings and busy road close.
It really felt like something special and “one of a kind”.
I continued my walk and discovered area with new graves and could see acres of more. I restricted myself to the certain point, because of the time limit. Even the newest graves had something special about them, it felt like this cemetery is in a different league.
It was certainly different and worth coming back.
There was quite a lot of images, but I kept the ones that really had a story or composition.
The image below is kept for further development. This is what it looks like from the entrance, but it is missing a story to be told. So I think I could split the image in half and create my own “grave yard” on the one side and keep the other as it is.
Photo editing and content to be discussed…
Other crazy ideas
Going back to the desperate measures, I thought I could go through the Bereavements section in the local paper and do a bit of a research of how people publicly pay their respects, what is the information on the announcement.
I picked out the most informative ones – I was looking for that extra that people are willing to go.
This one has got a “colourful clothing/accessories” – it might mean that the person was jolly and happy and they want the funeral to reflect that.
This one really made me smile – A Service Of Celebration for Eric’s Life – THANK YOU. This is what I have been trying to say with my project. So people can be aware and admit that the funerals are the celebration ceremonies, just of a different kind.
“LIFE IS FOR A LITTLE WHILE, BUT MEMORIES ARE FOREVER”
If only people could allow me to send the same message across with my presence at the funeral and allow to take photographs that will last FOREVER as a memory.
That one last crazy thing
I started to think – am I that desperate to crash a funeral in the UK?
If only I did not appear on the local paper/radio and TV, I could possibly get away with that.
But I am risking with my reputation, so I scrapped the idea.
Another idea replaced the previous – what if I could arrive at the cemetery just hours before the funeral and photograph the preparation…and maybe if I discover that it happens the day before, visit grave yard at the night time and photograph the hole in the ground lit by a spooky moonlight….
The deadline for having final selection of images -for print, video and postcards was approaching very fast and I was not quite there yet. To my disappointment there was no funerals lined up and I still haven’t had the guts to contact Dove House Hospice.
I wrote an emergency plan and was keen to get more images
re-visit Anlaby Cemetery
risk and pop down to Dove House Hospice. No time for writing and sending a proposal.
ask my good, old friend to look into his families photographs and maybe ask him for a portrait.
ask a friend of mine if I can photograph her mum’s ashes. She did offer that while back, so I might as well take the opportunity.
advertise for elderly couples to re-create my grandparents image [see below.]
Anlaby Cemetery re-visit
This time when much more familiar with the surroundings I was feeling certain that I could get some good images. But the grave yard was nearly empty and I was feeling less enthusiasm.
I approached a young lady and asked if she wouldn’t mind answering few questions. Never mind -I had no clue what questions, as only thing I wanted to ask – can I take a picture with you and the grave you are visiting. She probably sensed that something is not right and asked me to leave. Great!
I kept wondering around, re-visiting graves and thinking about the next move. A young couple arrived and I took my place behind a bush.
I felt like I was reaching a dead end. I can’t no longer be hiding in the shadow. Unless I get a permission, I’ll try to avoid photographing people spending precious time with their loved ones that have passed away.
Dove House Hospice drop in
That did not went that well either as I was really pushing it by asking if there is a possibility to hear some people stories. But they did not refused to help, they gave me a direct contact and asked to call the next day.
The next day I embraced the fact that I am really, really desperate for project progress, I need to work on the vision I have for the project and final images in the exhibition..so I rang them. I had to deal with a voicemail and I left a message, trying to explain what I would like to do and what is my project about.
By a surprise I got a call back an hour later. Brilliant news – Dove House Hospice staff have been talking about me since the radio and paper appearance. They were planning to contact me and see how we can help each other. I was buzzing for the rest of the day.
For such a long time I was really intimidated to get an instant rejection and never had the courage to ring up Dove House Hospice. The good news meant two things – my project will have a future and someone is thinking about the End Of Life the same way I do, at least in the terms of the project.
John and his Irish mother
I asked John for a portrait, because I knew that he won’t be able to resist. Also he has had a colourful life, he has travelled around parts of the world and worked in psychiatric nursing for years. Now is retired, lives with his best friend and is a passionate gold fish/tropical fish keeper and collector, also massive cat lover.
I always liked his face, it tells a story of a kind, his hair cut is also bonkers, so I thought to capture the personality, great life lived and by having a photograph of his mother and him young just allows us to remember about our heritage. Because we all have those kind of photographs, we can all relate to them.
There was no polishing the room up, no tidy ups only the true looks of the moment.
I might not have the picture of the year, but I have something that will keep him in my memory for forever, the story of the day, of him will remain recorded in this image.
He asked me if he needs to be smiling. I said: “Only if he feels like smiling.” He replied: “No, not really”, but when I smiled whilst photographing him, I got a faded smile in his face. Lovely.
Toni and her mum’s ashes
Toni or Antonia offered me to photograph her mums ashes when I told her about my weird ways of looking at what happens when we die – what happens to the body.
As I was not too sure, if I can photographically achieve something for my project, I never paid a visit.
At this stage I had to be even more open minded and explore options. Being cremated in my opinion is the best way for everyone-myself, family and planet earth. So why shouldn’t I look into the cremation and explore why people make this kind of choice. The exploration can start with Toni and her kind offer. I imagine that it is hard to allow a stranger into your own grief, but she openly talked about her mum, her death and struggles that she had to cope with it.
I have never seen a cremated person ashes or the urn, so I was quite intrigued.
I think that the best part of the experience was the presence. Toni gave me a weird way of freedom: I had the time to ask questions, photograph, absorb her surroundings and even smell the ashes.
It was a nutty smell and I was not expecting it to be like that.
There was a bit of a sentimental moment for both of us that day.
Thank you Toni, I really, really appreciate your kind offer :¬
Advert on Facebook about Elderly Couple shoots. **FAIL**
I was keen to explore the life spent together with someone, every moment shared and cherished, through good and tough times – just like my grandparents.
I was offering flexible terms, hours, get myself independently to the location, free photographs, we can even arrange some prints- NOTHING, NADA, ZERO.
I did not like the lack of response, really annoyed, but this is unfortunately what you can get when doing things last minute, have no patience and expect everything drop to your doorstep in the flick.
My plan was to re-visit South Cave Cemetery in a weeks time, because I was hoping to get the cherry blossoms to compliment already beautiful landscape.
I was also armed with Sigma 12-24 mm just to be sure that I can photograph the church and get more in the frame.
At the arrival it was heavily raining and to my disappointment – no cherry blossoms. So I had a quick wiz to the church. This time I was able to spend some time with it – touch the walls and get the feel of the history.
For whatever reason, that day was not the day when to take stunning images. I can compare it with bad hair day, when your hair is just not looking right..
On my way back to the car, I spotted the plaques in the ground that created this beautiful pattern.
Yes, I was all over the local media, but the most important part – on that day I was really stepping out of my comfort zone.
I will try to describe the day step by step, although some parts have gone missing from my brain due to emotional state.
My morning coffee was the wake up call and then the nerves kicked in.The day before I submitted a press release to Hull Daily Mail and had an interview with a news reporter, but never got a confirmation, so was not sure if I got the article in.
You can read all about it here: WEEKLY REFLECTION #22
No access to paper if honest was not a problem, because that was one less thing to worry about.
I received a text message from John Gilbert saying that he has seen me in the paper, article is amazing and looks good and that the BBC Radio Humberside Breakfast Show is already talking about my appearance on the Burnsy Show and debating on Funeral Photography. WHAT A SPOILER!!!!
Tuned in the BBC Radio Humbesride to see what is going on and actually heard them talking about me.
Left the house, need to grab a coffee, get a paper and be early.
The article was looking good, I was chuffed and proud of myself. Also the information was genuine and well written, so I was kind of looking forward to the radio show.
Went into BBC and was told to relax and wait, as I was not on until 11 am. So I went back to the park and started to point out the main discussion points.
I was trying to point out the main benefits of having a photographer at the funeral, just because a lot of people ask “what is the point?”
Last goodbye, farewell captured in professional documentary/reportage style keeping the artistic elements as any other celebrations will capture the funeral and give a keepsake to the family and friends
Important to have the images for those who did not attend or for the children in the future
Death is something that isn’t avoidable – it can be tragic, sudden, painful or a relief, or simply an end to the life cycle.
Like it or not, after a life comes death and it deserves a celebration, why not allow a professional to capture the best part of funeral.
Photographs of funerals is big part of my Latvian heritage, culturally and personally important part of having memories about my relatives and family history. Recently I had a bonding time with my father and we went through hundreds of old family funeral photographs and that was really informative and sentimental.
The images that I’ve grown up with are not artistic or sensitive at all. Therefore I can “fix” that mistake and learn from them and use my skill set to sensitively handle a funeral.
Photographs could potentially help someone grieve and my attitude and outspoken nature make it feel less taboo and more easier to talk about.
When it comes to technical matters, I know that with a bit of practice I could deliver stunning images from the funeral, wakes ect.
My presence and the images after the funeral might have a second look at the funeral and effort that has been put in to make it a beautiful ceremony. Details like flowers, the way people dressed up, horse carriage might have been missed because of the moments spent saying goodbye. But that is part of the funeral, that has been put together by family and friends with love and to cherish the memories and good things left behind.
I am invited to sit next to the studio, near producers.
By this point I kind of wanted to get on with it and felt quite calm.
But then somebody from BBC Look North approached me and seemed quite surprised that I was there…In short – Look North have heard about me and wanted to contact me and do a news article on my subject. I explained that the Hull Daily Mail and Burnsy show is planned ahead and hopefully will give me more chances of getting access to a funeral.
He asked if we could do the filming after the show..
Thank you for pressing the “nerve” button just seconds before I have to get on the live radio.
After 10:30 am
I was in the studio, opposite David Burns. I had a really good feeling about the next following 10 minutes, I had a quick look around, adjusted the microphones and was ready to go.
I won’t go into single details about the show and what we talked about, because we clearly talked about the Funeral Photography, Final Major Project, Latvian heritage and cultural differences. The most memorable moment was when the first question David Burns asked me was “so have you photographed dead body?” Well, yes, but I was not to keen to open my introduction by saying that I have been into a morgue and photographed dead bodies..
The radio show was quick, pleasant and really good experience. Would love to do this more often. David Burns really is a lovely radio presenter, it was my pleasure to be on his show. Also he invited me to come back when my project has taken some progress. Nice.
Here is the link where you can listen the show. It will expire and the link will remain as a proof that I was on the radio.
Look North reporter asked me to drag out my family photographs for stills. It was quite unexpected – this sudden interest and effort from other people to find out more.
So by then I was really going for it, enjoyed every second the experience.
He filmed for 10 minutes, me going through the photographs until the proper filming person arrives.
It was interesting to see news in making.
The proper filming person arrived and as he was preparing his kit, me and the news reporter had a conversation about the Funeral Photography, death and life. He said that he might help me out to get some funeral directors involved and I wished him the best luck, as I have experienced myself – they are not interested.
There was also a good phrase going about between us three – Not everyone gets married, but everyone dies – means that I have found an area where a potential job is guaranteed. Sounds cruel, but is actually so true. So if I can get this project going and people start to see this as a valuable photography genre, I could definitely set up a business, based on the demand.
Filming started and to have some “fill the gaps” footage I had to pretend to be photographing ducks in Queens Gardens and walk about with a wondering look.
Here are the f**ing famous ducks.
I was a bit nervous about the interview as it gets filmed and I was not sure if I will be up for the job.
Once again, I really tried to explain reasons behind the project and the initial ideas and slowly moved into the current project ideas and progress, talking about what I would love to achieve at the funerals and prove people wrong.
It was so interesting to part of this crazy day, but the day did not get any easier. I had to answer a few phone calls from people congratulating me and “well done” messages. Also I happened to have a photo-visit later on the day for my Final Major Project.
Unfortunately due to WordPress restrictions, I can’t upload the Look North footage, but here is a link that proves my presence on TV:
I got in and I was so happy, relieved and proud that I have come out in public with my idea. It was official – I can make this project work, hopefully the interest will be there and people will give me a chance.
As I opened my email there was an email from Leeds based News Agency and they asked if I could give them a ring regards to the Hull Daily Mail article about Funeral Photography.
I was asked a permission to publish the article in other news sites and send few more photographs.
I know it was not a big deal – but that extended the positive experience.
For the rest of the day I was receiving positive messages from many different people. Few of my friends said that at first the title and the topic seemed ridiculous, but when I explained and added my passion and “trademark” they changed their minds.
And that is the main thing – if, by talking about the taboo topics openly, I can change peoples minds that is half job done. I think that the hardest part of getting access to the funerals will be the convincing part. Once I get the photographs and show them to people, they will start to understand why I believe in this.
So now – hoping to get hundreds of phone calls, emails and messages asking to be part of someones End Of Life celebration – Funeral.