Photo documentary – Living through Brokenness

The Storyteller in me expects my photos to say something. But how do you capture the raggedness of emotions – convey the experience – while being true to photo-documentary?

The 10th anniversary of the earthquake that wreaked so much havoc on Christchurch has just passed (22 February 2021). I have hundreds, if not thousands of images of the external damage. I’d meant to blog on the date – perhaps show some before and after shots to highlight how far we have come in a decade – but I couldn’t in the end. Taking the photos was an important process – a vehicle through grief – it doesn’t mean they have to be shown.

The internal damage is not so obvious but lingers. Remembering still feels raw, and in fact I avoided reading any anniversary news articles last Monday. I can barely look at photos of the destruction.

What I show to mark this important anniversary, late though it is, is conceptual.

The population of road cones grew exponentially after the quake – appearing everywhere to mark hazards. They became characters in the drama we lived, and to me conveyed personalities with feelings.

I have chosen a few of my ‘road cone portraits’ to illustrate something of the emotional journey we experienced. Non of the images were staged – I photographed as they were found. Not everything was grim – there was cheer to be discovered over the years as well and we grew as a community.

‘I feel like a bus has run over me’
‘Feeling washed out’
Roadside grave
Sticking together and using our heads
Dressing up to have fun
Finding creative ways to relax
Celebrating the seasons

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