The Charlie and Bert of the title are not photographers but the subjects/collaborators of two photographers, Julian Germain and Kaylynn Deveney respectively. This posting looks at two superficially similar long-term projects in which the photographer has struck a friendship with an elderly single male subject and made a collaborative document of his life through routine and trivia.
The I&P course notes direct us toward Julian Germain’s 1992-2005 project with Charles Snelling. Germain describes ‘Charlie’ as his ‘antidote to modern living. Charlie loved flowers, painted his terrace house yellow and orange, drove a Reliant Robin and kept photograph albums.
The subset of Germain’s 125 images that we see on his website show Charlie in semi-posed (or ‘not entirely candid’) cameos of everyday life, intercut with the detail of that life (garden gnome, boiling kettle etc.) We also see pages from Charlie’s photograph albums, which feature large (literally) when the series was exhibited at the Baltic Centre, Gateshead in 2005. Enlarging the album pages to 4m tall gives the individual photographs a presence that they do not have on the page.
The combination of current and archival (photo albums) gives us an insight into Charlie’s life and history. The inclusion of a Haynes workshop manual for the Reliant Robin in the exhibition was inspired.
KayLynn Deveney: The Day-to-Day Life of Albert Hastings
I first encountered Deveney’s 2001-2007 project in the C&N course notes, where it is given as an example of images and text working together. There is much in common between the two projects; the images show scenes from Bert’s day-to-day life, interspersed with small details (teacup, folded pyjamas etc.) but the nature of the collaboration is different, with Bert supplying handwritten captions to most of the images.
Both projects show the everyday life of their subjects in their final years (Charlie and Bert have both passed away) but the nature of the ‘additional material’ differs. Germain shows us more of Charlie’s history; Deveney gives us more a picture of Bert’s inner self. Both insights are valuable.
Deveney, K. (undated) The Day to Day Life of Albert Hastings [online] Available at https://kaylynndeveney.com/the-day-to-day-life-of-albert-hastings [Accessed 08 December 2018].
Germain, J. (undated) For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness [online] Available at http://www.juliangermain.com/projects/foreveryminute.php [Accessed 08 December 2018].