Neil Williams tells us about his major photography project on people living alone and loneliness.
Living alone and loneliness
For some time, I have been undertaking a major photography project on people living alone and loneliness. Although the project is for completion of an MA in Photography, which I commenced as part of my move into retirement. I am looking for more people to participate in the project to add to the knowledge about what it is like to be living alone and experiencing loneliness in the UK today.
I currently have 20 participants of all ages and backgrounds and you can see photographs of some of them on my photo site. They come from a mix of backgrounds, ranging in age from mid-30s to mid-80s, living in cities and towns across the UK. Some participants have had challenging life experiences; some have careers whilst others are seeking to re-establish their lives; some have lost their life partner and others have yet to find one; and a few people are happy living alone.
Having a diverse range of participants is important because we know the research tells us that income, education, sex and race offer no protection against feelings of loneliness. I have seen that from my discussions so far.
My project involves two stages. First, discussing their life stories with individual participants, which is mostly done via FaceTime or Zoom. The discussions are confidential, and the final summary is then shared for agreement. The second stage is photographing people in their own home in order to add a visual element to the life story. Sometimes, it can take two or three visits to collaboratively make the photographs – it’s all part of the creative process. For me it is a privilege to have people share their life stories and to allow me to photograph them.
The end result of the project, in 2022, will be an exhibition and a book, both of which will include not only photographs but also the summary life stories. The participants collaborating with me in this project are willingly – through sharing their personal stories – helping us understand more widely what it is like to live alone and also experience loneliness.
If you would like to know more about participating in my project do please get in touch and I’ll send further information. You can contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org