Tag Archives: lifebooth

Everyone has a story worth telling…

Because of the nature of my work, I am sometimes asked why biography is important. People sometimes frame biography in terms of what they see as a culture of narcissism in modern society ~ “look at me with my [delete as appropriate] amazing/rubbish/(un)enviable/scary/heroic/nutty/successful/LOL  life”.

Whilst the ‘narcissist’ sticker could well be slapped onto many people, I think the word is essentially an ugly (perhaps even bitchy) one ~ especially when people use it in terms of biography. Biographies exist to communicate, inspire, educate, and entertain. They can connect with part of the core of what makes us human ~ empathy ~ and I believe that if we take time to learn something about the lives of others, our own lives and perspectives can be enriched in some way. I think this is particularly true if we are talking about your own family ~ or people with whom you share deep connections.

This is precisely what LifeBooth is about. I make auto/biographical films for amazing people who are not famous. They are amazing because they are human ~ and because they might be your mum or dad, your granny or granddad, your uncle, aunt, brother, sister, cousin ~ or even you.

Sometimes I think that perhaps we are relentlessly bombarded, and are too comfortable, with being fed by the shrink-wrapped slivers of celebrities familiar yet distant lives. I believe that biography shouldn’t only exist for life’s famous achievers, survivors, or those who have managed to tear off a tiny morsel of fame.

Having said that, whilst many of us might avert our eyes and reach for whichever robustly intellectual text we are reading, as the likes of Chantelle Houghton or Katie Price release their life story to edjumuckate the masses ~ they do still have their place. This is because they are obviously important to those who identify with these individuals; or those few who are able to fight the temptation to mumble “chav”, and look at the wider socio~cultural aspects of their lives, such as to why such celebrity exists ~ and see (if you really squint your eyes) that they are adding a tiny thread to the tapestry of which our whencestors will look back and try to understand our society and culture through the macroscopic lens of the individual.

Call me a big softie if you like… but I believe every life to be precious. This isn’t about comparing good-folk with evil-folk. I think the human condition is much more ambiguous than that ~ even the Darth Vader of the music world (Simon Cowell) has shown increasing signs of being nice! What I mean is that each life ~ each individual ~ from birth to whenever~upon~a~time; hacks, plods, drifts, saunters, and sails upon waves of events, experiences, and decisions that have been made by or for them. And so at any point in our lives ~ whether we are 8 or 80 ~ we have the ability to pause, recollect, and communicate. That’s our story ~ and it is beautiful not only because it is ours ~ but also because it naturally connects with all the important people around us whom we love ~ they are an intrinsic part of it.

With LifeBooth I have a big challenge ~ which is to get the word out that beautiful and meaningful biographical films are for everyone. It’s not easy, because it’s not a service that people know exists ~ so on the one hand I am faced with a big PR challenge (and the need to diversify services); but on the other hand it is about getting people to realize that actually, whether they worked on the shop floor of a factory most of their life ~ ran a million pound company ~ or have spent a large part of their life staying at home and raising their children ~ their life is amazing and worth recording for current and future generations ~ as well as the journey.

It’s all about creating a familial ‘artifact’ really ~ one that connects the past to the present and the future. This is what inspired me to set up LifeBooth. I’ve always had an interest in family photographs (which is why I based my PhD on the subject) ~ but whilst I find them so fascinating and informative, they also have their limitations.

I’ve often found myself staring at old family photographs (either my own or others) and wanting to know more about the people depicted ~ how they spoke, how they moved, their beliefs, passions, experiences, adventures, what they did for a living, what happened immediately after the photograph was taken?

Family photographs are beautiful treasures that can possess an exquisite silence ~ especially if they are of those ancestors with whom you are connected but have no actual living experience of. It is the silence of family photographs that I seek to challenge through my work ~ and that is why family photographs are so central to the films ~ because they become woven through the times, places, people, and experiences that my clients speak of ~ and somehow bring you closer to the past.


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Colouring the Past…

I was practicing some restoration and colour correction exercises on old family photographs today as I was thinking of including it as a service for my new biography business.

I scanned the photograph of my Nana and Granddad’s wedding outside the Church of Ascension in Easington Colliery (the very church where I was Christened ~ and the same town where Billy Elliot was filmed!). The photograph has been on display on the sideboard in the dining room and is getting quite faded. I originally intended just to restore it in black and white (which I did), but then fancied the challenge of making it all colourful.

Nana & Granddad's Wedding

Nanna & Granddad's Wedding Coloured

I love colour correcting photographs as it gets kind of hypnotic ~ especially when you’ve got some nice soothing Yann Tiersen playing in the background. The wedding photograph took quite a long time because of all the detail in it and you have to pretty much go over every pixel to make it look right. For example, with the bouquet of roses my Nana is holding I had to go over every leaf and then go in between the leaves to colour her wedding dress.

I also had to do a bit of research ~ I spoke to my Nana to check that the roses were red, and what colour Granddad’s suit and tie was. Even after all these years she still remembered! I tried to find a photograph of the church but there wasn’t one unfortunately. However I did find some photographs that were taken on the same street and so I used those as a basis for colouring the bricks. The door was a bit of a wild guess and I think it needs altering a bit to get it right!

If you are working on a photograph that has a lot less detail such as the one below of my Mum (or it might be my aunt!) when she was little, it is much easier. The problem is that with more detail there is ~ the more ‘cartoony’ it can become. The photograph of my Nana and Granddad looks much more obviously coloured than the one of my mum (to my eyes anyway!). I think the wedding photograph works okay though ~ the only thing I’m not as happy about are the roses as I couldn’t for the life of me get a faithful colour on them to make them look convincing.

Mum (?) Before

Mum (?) After

I think I might try colouring one of Nancy’s photographs later on today!

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