Framing the Familiar | Photographing the Family

As part of The Photography Series held at the museum on 20 October, our two speakers, Dr. Oh Soon-Hwa and photographer Sean Lee, covered interesting aspects of what it means to photograph the family.

Dr. Oh Soon-Hwa introduced the works of several photographers and their different perspectives and interpretations of what make up the 'family portrait'; non-conventional captures that sometimes force the eyes to look away, momentarily. Through these works, we are introduced to different manifestations of the family, ethnographic slices into different spaces and livelihoods, and how they exist (or rather, are portrayed). These captures are evidently different from what would we otherwise recognize as 'normal' family portraits and thus, challenge our ideas of how the family can be presented and discussed.

Below is a list of the photographers introduced during the talk, along with their works. 

Sally Mann | Nan Goldin | Larry Sultan | Elinor Carucci | Philip Lorca diCorcia | Chris Verene
Click on name for link to photographer's work

Photographer Sean Lee shared his series "Homework", which involves not merely the documentation of the relationship between his family members, but also in creating personalities within carnivalesque set-ups that yield elements of the theatrical. His photographs do not just present us with the role each family member plays - mother, father, sister, brother - but also introduces us to the characters each family member adopts. He morphs their bodies into beings; masks their superficial; exposes the hurt. Sean also shared that in photographing his family, albeit through these unconventional captures, he is creating a family album as the family gets together for these shots, and in the process, develop shared experiences and memories of their time together.

Below is a short film featuring behind-the-scenes footage of Sean and his "Homework" shoot.

shot by Invisible Photographer Asia


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