Photographer's Note

Male, Age 20.
He said he would agree to being photographed praying if his face wasn't shown and we took the pictures in a different church than his own. He said his beliefs are a private matter that he doesn't share with others.

In the workshop I will put image 4 and 5, as they work better looking at the 3 together.

Please read the following project statement:

In response to my degree module brief for a Photographic Project
incorporating "Cultural Descriptions", I identified an aspect of social
life which interested me and which I was not a part of, creating a
photographic documentary around this subject. The subject I chose was
religion, more specifically religious beliefs and the people who believe in them.

My project proposal was to show the viewer religious mentality and the
decline of belief in the modern church. I wanted to challenge the viewer's perception of the people who attended church, while conveying what these
people believe in, why they believe in what they do, and what benefits they receive from these beliefs. My hope was to create intimate portraits within the settings of their places of worship and iconography they used to show their beliefs. As religion has many different 'churches and beliefs', I chose to mainly focus on a local catholic church and current or former catholic believers.

Attending two months of evening masses, allowed me to observe the people
and their belief. This also allowed the church to be more comfortable with my presence as a person identified by them as 'religiously apathetic'. My presence at first was not initially viewed as particularly positive by the Dean. But after several discussions and my persistence in attendance, my presence was tolerated, if not accepted. I sought and received permission for all of the images taken.

My initial project was to include quotes from a questionnaire I put
together questioning the participants about the bases of their beliefs but
as the project has progressed and the aims of my project began a natural
change, I disregarded the questionnaire as I believe the quotes would have
convoluted the strength of the imagery. The response to the questionnaire
was negligible, as participants informed me that it was too difficult to
externalise their beliefs in writing. I also made the conscious decision to try and avoid confrontational imagery as well as sympathetic imagery. The
project has evolved into a documentation of my visual observations.

All images are shown 'as is'. Minimal to no post processing has been done and the work encapsulates two months of research. Most of the images were taken under very short time constraints from the participents, usually involving no more than 5 to 10 minutes of their time, including shooting time.

The project is best viewed as a body of work or series rather than as single contextual images. Though each image has it's own unique story, viewed together I believe the images convey a much broader view of the subject.

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Additional Photos by Leilani VW (Leilani) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 244 W: 43 N: 228] (1385)
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