Exercise: Washing Up by Nigel Shafran

I think it is kind of a peculiar question that the OCA has asked if I am surprised that a man took this photograph.  Why wouldn’t it be a man in this day and age? It is this very preconception that goes into the idea of gender.  In fact, this question makes me a little grumpy.  Living in a country where gender roles are quite defined and trying to raise two boys who do not grow up to think that there are set male and female roles is quite difficult and frustrating at times.  Also, as a teacher of teenagers, I am constantly trying to battle these notions only to be considered a ‘feminist’ as if it were a bad word.  So no, I was not surprised that a man took these images.  My husband does all of the dishes in our home, my dad, my step father (both quite traditional men) and my brother all do the washing up and other household chores like cooking, laundry, etc.

I think gender is something constructed by society and if we aren’t aware of it, it will rule everything we do, so yes, I do think gender contributes to the creation of an image because often we construct images that appeal to us or that are about us or that reflect our society and gender comes into it.  But the question is is what defines our gender?  Hormones are different, that is for sure, but domestic roles, clothing, make-up, hair styles, pay?  That is society.

I think photographing objects is an effective way to show something about a person.  Usually we have objects around us that we like, so in a way, the objects, they way they are placed, etc., do give some insight into the person.  Personal objects also give a view to a person that maybe is not present in the face or body.

I have seen some comments on other learning logs that some people just didn’t get this work.  I liked it for some reason. Again, why things resonate is a mystery to me, but I liked them because I think you can tell a lot about the people in this household from the images and since I am in the midst of full on domestic life (two kids, aged 11) these objects interest me. Plus, I like kitchens with good energy and light.

I am quite interested in photographing my own objects as a way of portraying an aspect of my personality, but I might wait for the final assignment to do so.  I am interested in this because I have been living abroad for 18 years now so I think the objects in my home say something about me especially since I am quite particular in what is in my home.


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