We recently awarded our second Professional Development Mentorship to the exceptionally talented Elanor Marielle and here she is to introduce herself, her journey and her work…
I first began using photography as a means to deal with my environment at the age of 13. My Mum bought me a cheap handheld digital camera for my birthday, and even then I felt my family were interesting enough subjects to be my tests whilst I first learnt how to use the camera.
My brothers’ have profound autism; so profound that at their diagnosis at 18 months old they couldn’t even be placed on the spectrum. My parents then split up, my Dad seeing us a handful of times a year from then on, resulting in me becoming my brothers’ missing parent despite me only being a child myself.
This was incredibly hard. Over the years me and my family went through many things, including two incidents where my brothers nearly drowned and nine house fires, a couple in which we nearly lost our lives as well as most of our belongings.
It was in my last year of University, from which I just graduated a few months ago, that I decided to do a project dedicated entirely to how I view my family. My camera became a conduit for every emotion I’d ever had in regards to what I was shooting. For over a year I worked this way, working with light, colour, and framing to show that each shot meant something to me, that there wasn’t a single picture that was without meaning.
I ultimately ended up making a book; combining the images I took throughout the past year with text and found images from my families past, letters that had been forgotten.
It resulted in my project, ‘Any Other Name’, a reference to Shakespeare and the movie ‘American Beauty’, which was a huge influence for my project. My project has been featured in the British Journal of Photography in their Graduates Section, and was also the recipient of a Wooden Pencil at the D&AD Awards. I feel I’ve told my family’s story well.
I’m now at a point where I feel I can temporarily close this chapter in my life. Since leaving University, I’ve realized that I still don’t know who I am away from my family. It’s this I need to figure out and understand before I can undergo another personal project.
I believe once I understand more about who I am when separate from everyone else, I can continue to develop my craft, and continue to achieve great things.