An Artifact that Explores the Subject of Under-Represented Groups within the Media

RESEARCH:

Un·der·rep·re·sent·ed – Insufficiently or inadequately represented

After being given this very short brief, I thought that the first step I should take would be to research what is technically classed as an “under-represented group within the media”. After spending about an hour on the Internet, I found that the best link I came across was:

http://www.blueprintforchangeonline.net/pages/stakeholders/underrepresented.php

On this page, it says:

“Underserved groups may include, but are not limited to:

  • Youths
  • Seniors
  • People with disabilities
  • Low-income and working poor
  • Impoverished and/or homeless
  • Immigrants
  • People for whom English is second language
  • Single parents
  • Veterans
  • Racial or ethnic minority groups
  • Religious minority groups
  • Members of the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender community
  • People with limited education or literacy

After narrowing down my search to this very helpful list, I then thought that the best thing to do was to simplify it to the groups of people that I have easy access to. These are listed below:

  • Youthsmy age group
  • People for whom English is second languagestudent accommodation/university
  • Single parentsMother
  • Racial or ethnic minority groupsstudent accommodation/university
  • Members of the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender communitystudent accommodation/university

I then thought that the next step would be to decide which ‘group’ I have the most emotional connection to, which is therefore why I have chosen to create an artifact about my Mother.

PLANNING:

What am I planning on doing for this photo shoot?

For this photo shoot, I plan on taking opportunistic photographs of my mum taking part in her day-to-day routine. I do not want to create any staged images, as I want to try and portray a single parents natural expression as they go about doing tasks that would normally be split between two partners. To accompany these photographs, I then plan on interviewing my mum with personal questions about what it’s like to be a single parent in this day and age. I want show the viewer her individual story and opinions. I will then show the answers given by my mum after the images in order to allow the viewer to create any individual relationships that they may see. This, as I would expect, will either anchor the meaning of the photograph or show a contrast of irony, allowing the whole piece to have a deeper meaning.

What will I need?

  • Canon EOS 600D
  • 18-55mm Canon lens
  • Camera Charger
  • Circular Polariser
  • Natural backgrounds
  • A set of prepared questions
  • Pen
  • Subject – Jan Constantine

What technical skills will I need to use?

As I am taking portraiture style shots using a naturalistic background, I will need to create a shallow depth of field to decrease the likelihood of background distractions; to do this, I will put my aperture onto a setting of f/8 or less. I will also need a fast shutter speed in order for me to lose any motion blur that will be created by the movement of my mum. I will set my ISO setting to Auto, as this will enable the camera to automatically change the ISO as I move through different rooms with dissimilar lighting allowing me to continue with my opportunistic photography without creating a distraction for the subject.

INTERVIEW QUESTIONS:

1)    How did you become a single parent?

2)    How long have you been a single parent?

3)    How old is your daughter now?

4)    Is she living away from home at the moment?

5)    How are you finding living at home now she’s at university?

6)    Did you have any financial difficulties being single mother?

7)    How did you find it balancing work life with being a single parent?

8)    Did you ever get any free time? If so, how was it spent?

9)    Did any aspects of your life have to take a backseat?

10)Did you ever consider getting back into the dating game?

11)Did you have any outside help with raising your daughter?

12)Were you ever given any advice from other single parents/parents?

13)Did others ever treat you differently because you are a single parent?

14)Did you ever encounter any difficulties being a single parent?

15)Do you think getting divorced had an effect on your daughter’s upbringing?

16)Is there anything that you wish you did differently during your daughter’s upbringing?

After creating these interview questions, I then realised that some of the answers will be very personal and maybe even upsetting to see from a daughters point of view. That is why, after she has completed this interview, I have decided to write a short, personal summary about my opinions and feelings on the matter in order to comfort my mum.

PHOTOS:

Cleaning the Bathroom - Holly Constantine

In the Loft - Holly Constantine

Lunch - Holly Constantine

Washing up - Holly Constantine

Ironing - Holly Constantine

Taking the Bins Out - Holly Constantine

Hoovering - Holly Constantine

Paperwork - Holly Constantine

Dinner - Holly Constantine

And relax - Holly Constantine

THE INTERVIEW:

1) How did you become a single parent?

My husband left me

2) How long have you been a single parent?

18 ¼ years

3) How old is your daughter now?

19 ¼

4) Is she living away from home at the moment?

Yes. She is living away at University in Coventry, studying Photography.

5) How are you finding living at home now she’s at university?

The transition was tough at first and a little depressing. It’s easier now and I really look forward to our weekly calls, and we try to get together at least once a month, either here or in Coventry.

6) Did you have any financial difficulties being a single mother?

I would say the first decade was very tough. I was made redundant three times, which was very scary. Holly’s father has always supported her financially so that is a great help. In 2004 I moved to a new job, which was well paid in comparison to my previous jobs and it allowed me to feel more financially secure. Our standard of living was much better.

7) How did you find it balancing work life with being a single parent?

It was hard, but I was very lucky as my sister was my Child Minder. Holly went to school with her two cousins and was treated as if she was their sibling. I honestly don’t know how I would have coped without the support of family and friends. The new job in 2004 improved finances dramatically, however, it did have an impact on home life, and general life balance. I had to keep telling myself that it was worth it for the financial rewards.

8) Did you ever get any free time? If so, how was it spent?

For the first few years, I literally didn’t go out at all. This was partly due to having no money at all for socializing, partly because I couldn’t afford sitters, and also because I wasn’t confident after what had happened. Holly was the thing that kept me going. When I did get free time, it was usually spent working out or running. As time went by, and Holly got older, we had more money and I did get to go out more.

9) Did any aspects of your life have to take a backseat?

Probably just my social life initially. I’ve always said that I’ve managed to keep going, but probably didn’t do anything particularly well.

10) Did you ever consider getting back into the dating game?

I did date someone for a short while when Holly was about four. I’ve been single since then. At first I didn’t have time to worry about it. Then we forged a good life with just the two of us. I think I would find it hard now, as I value my independence too much.

11) Did you have any outside help with raising your daughter?

Yes, most definitely. As I’ve said before, my sister was my Child Minder. Holly went to school with her cousins and was treated as a sibling. My siblings and friends were a fantastic help and supported me greatly.

12)  Were you ever given any advice from other single parents/parents?

I probably was, but it was given in such a way that I didn’t realize. By this I mean I never felt I was being advised because I was doing something wrong. I attended a course for parents with teenagers, which was a real eye opener as I assumed the few areas I was struggling with were down to my lack of parental skills. It was good, in a way, to see that other, happily married couples had similar issues!

13) Did others ever treat you differently because you are a single parent?

I can remember some people being impressed that I was a working single mum who was just getting on with things. My friends and family knew that I would get on with things, but sometimes if I met new people they were surprised I was working and not on benefits or relying on my ex to support myself and Holly.

14) Did you ever encounter any difficulties being a single parent?

I tried not to let things get to me regarding being single. I did worry sometimes that I wasn’t handling parenting correctly.

15) Do you think getting divorced had an effect on your daughter’s upbringing?

I like to think not, but I guess you would have to check with her. I did try to make up for the fact it was just the two of us, and may have spoilt her a bit!

16) Is there anything that you wish you did differently during your daughter’s upbringing?

I will always believe I could have done things better, but I’m like that about most things! 

MY MOTHER – MY RESPONSE:

I don’t know what I would have done without my Mum. She has always been there for me and has had my best interests at heart through the whole of my life. Being a ‘victim’ of divorce may have knocked the way I was brought up, and I might even have endured some slight conflicts from time to time, but if my parents didn’t get divorced, I wouldn’t have had such an amazingly strong relationship with my Mum. I, obviously, still see my Dad, but only on rare occasions being away at university. We have a relatively strong relationship, but it is sometimes hard to manage with how little I see him. He is also happily married with a wonderful stepfamily, which is why this project has been dedicated solely to my beautiful, single Mum. I, personally, don’t feel that my Mum needs a man in her life. She is a gorgeous, independent woman who has been an inspiration to me, and everyone around her. She truly is my best friend, and I know that our relationship will continue to grow as time passes us by. I love you Mum. x

CRITICAL REFLECTION:

During this critical reflection, I will be analyzing the three main aspects of my finished piece: the photos, interview, and my paragraph. I will explain why I chose to do different techniques for each of these, before moving on to highlighting any areas that I would like to have changed.

As I stated in my planning for this particular task, I wanted to create opportunistic photographs in order try and portray a single parents natural expression as they go about doing tasks that would normally be split between two partners. As you can see from the final 10 images, this was succeeded. I then spent time in post-production deciding on how I wanted to edit my images in a way that would elicit a strong emotion and atmosphere, but by also allowing them to have a common ground to show the viewer that these images belonged to the same collection. This is why I put them into black and white. This editing technique has been used on every image to allow the collective view, and also represents a serene and emotional atmosphere. This can be used to symbolize the state in which my Mother was after the initial divorce, and can also be used as a clue by the viewer to show that these photos embody a serious matter. After editing my images, I then decided to sequence them. I only rearranged one image as I felt that this showed the natural, chronological order in which my Mum participated in these errands.

For the interview, I was originally going to record my Mum’s answers using an Edirol R05 audio recorder. I then decided that, as the questions and answers were relatively personal, I thought that she may find it quite intimidating and embarrassing to say them in front of me, so would end up changing her genuine answer. This is why I decided to go for the traditional pen and paper concept. This allowed my Mum to write truthful answers but still allow her to plan what she was going to say. After she had written her answers I, obviously, had a quick read through them before explaining to her that I wished to put these on my public blog. I clarified exactly how I would use these answers and reassured her that they would not be taken out of context and will be displayed with the questions. I received her consent.

Whilst reading through my Mother’s answers, I couldn’t help but feel a slight twang of emotion as I read things that I didn’t know before. I predicted in my planning that this would happen and so I wrote a short paragraph explaining my ideas on the matter. I wrote this paragraph in a truthful and opinionated way, which allows it to give my Mum some comfort, whilst anchoring the seriousness of the theme at hand.

As with most tasks, there is always something that I would have liked to change. I feel that the three separate components that I produced from this task are rather successful, but they are exactly that: separate. I would have liked to have found a way to combine these three factors in a more obvious fashion. Perhaps by linking an image to an answer, or creating another photo film. However, this idea would mean that I would be ‘spoon-feeding’ my viewer the relationships between the different aspects. The way it is set out now, allows the viewer to show an individual opinion on how to interpret the pieces and their relationships.

To conclude, I know I say that I enjoy every task or project that I am given, but it is completely true! For this task, I liked the fact that I was given a very small brief, which enabled me to have a greater level of freedom. I think that this task was a success, and the fact that I got to create it around the most inspirational woman I know just increased my excitement. The smaller the brief, the better.

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