Exercise 3.3 – Masquerades (P.82)

Recreate a childhood memory in a photograph. Think carefully about the memory you choose and how you’ll recreate it. You’re free to approach this task in any way you wish.

My memory is real, not imagined or metaphorical. I have tried to recreate it as well as I can, although it was from a long time ago! My brother liked tomato sauce, never ketchup in our house, which is strange as he didn’t, and to the best of my knowledge still does not, like tomatoes. My brother also liked custard, a staple pudding sometimes served on its own, or sometimes as an accompaniment to apple pie or crumble, but until then never with tomato sauce. I can’t remember exactly if this happened at lunchtime or in the evening but I do know that my father was not there, if he had been he would have stopped it. My mother, on the other hand, was much calmer and did not stop my brother from trying his new dessert although she may have suggested that it was not a good idea. Despite this when he got his bowl of custard he took the bottle of tomato sauce and put a splodge in the middle of the bowl which he then proceeded to stir in to create a pale orange concoction. I think at this stage he realised that this was not his best idea but even so he was committed and so took a spoonful of the unappealing orange mixture and ate it. It was the first and last time he would do so.

This really happened, I was there, it is not a scene from some television programme of the time that I have transposed into reality. Thinking in more detail about it there are somethings that are very clear; the white kitchen table, the willow patterned bowl, the glass bottle of ketchup, which to be completely realistic would have had congealed gunge around the cap. Other details are less clear, the time of day, if we had a glass of orange squash, who else was there.

My original idea was to produce a series of three images showing the various stages of the event. These are shown below

Custard and tomato sauce – I
Custard and tomato sauce – II
Custard and tomato sauce – lll

Although these show the chronology of events I was not happy with then as the lighting is very flat and in my mind this took place on a bright day. Just before I cleared up the sun came out and I was able to get a shot that was more representative of the picture I had in my mind. I think this is an exercise I will return to as it is easy to stage and I would like to try to get a series of images with the sort of lighting in the image below but without the area of shadow in the top left hand corner.

Custard and tomato sauce – lV

I think as a stand alone image, the final picture is the best recreation of the scene as I recall it but to a viewer looking at it without the accompanying story I think the image would be confusing. I think this is a case where it is necessary for the viewer to have the context explained to make sense of the narrative within the image.

I think this exercise has given me a new appreciation of the work of some of the photographers featured in this section. To create staged photographs is not as easy as it might seem at first, espcially if you are trying to recreate scenes from the past. It has given me a better appreciation of the Seven Years series by Trish Morrissey. Having said that I am uncertain about the merit of trying to recreate past events, thinking again about Seven Years I found the recreations annoying as I was unsure what was being communicated, the relationship between Morrissey and her sister or the achievement in being able to recreate fictional scenes from the past?

As well as trying to shoot the series of three images again in better light I think I will try another approach to recreating this event. Thinking about this incident in a bit more depth I believe it was really about my brother pushing boundaries and this is something I could explore using a metphorical rather than a literal approach.

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