I needed a definition of Photo Essay before I coudl begin so this is what I found:
an account of something told predominantly through photographs, with some accompanying text.
Hence I feel that Cambell’s work could be classified more as a photographic essay and Smith’s as a photo story. Cambell’s work is very integrated with the narrative or story around her father’s dying while Smith’s is as a detached observer of the doctor’s daily routine. Hers is a very personal story. She hesitated and procrastinated for many months before she was able to detach herself sufficiently to be able to photograph the day to day deterioration of her father’s health. In the beginning her images were softer and more ‘suggestive’ of her fathers illness while Smith was close to the subject of his images.
He shows the doctor performing amputations and other pretty intensive treatments. We see no actual treatment of the father in Cambell’s case. We see him being helped to walk in the hospital but we never see any of his treatments. Her work is like that of an observing ‘guardian angel’. She tries to leave her father’s dignity in tact. This is not to say that Smith’s images are undignified but rather they lack this deep empathy with their subjects. They are more about the doctor than the patients. In Cambell’s work it is all about the patient.
Cambell had the full support of her father in the making of this story. This is clear from the very moving video. Saying Goodbye with my Camera and from the many images she made for this project. We have no idea if Dr Ceriani’s patients agreed to be photographed or not. The doctor himself was obviously a willing participant in the project. The resultant images tell their story. For me they are less moving, mpre c;inical but nonetheless beautiful. Cambell’s images are infused with a deep sense of love and loss.
Once Images are printed and archived there is no end to their story. Unless the archive somehow becomes obliterated the images will live on to continue the story they started to tell. Cambell’s story appears to have taken on a special continuum as people get comfort from it when suffering similar traumas in their lives. So although her fathers life story has ended the set of images have taken on a life of their own and will continue to be seen. This story will never have an ending. Smith’s images also continue to tell the story of a doctor’s life in Colorado in the late 1940s..
- 2015. . [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.brionycampbell.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/The_Dad_Project_Briony_Campbell.pdf. [Accessed 26 December 2015].
- W. Eugene Smith’s ‘Country Doctor’: Revisiting a Landmark Photo Essay. 2015. W. Eugene Smith’s ‘Country Doctor’: Revisiting a Landmark Photo Essay. [ONLINE] Available at: http://time.com/3456085/w-eugene-smiths-landmark-photo-essay-country-doctor/. [Accessed 26 December 2015].
- Video: Saying goodbye with my camera | Life and style | The Guardian. 2015. Video: Saying goodbye with my camera | Life and style | The Guardian. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/video/2010/apr/13/briony-campbell-father-cancer. [Accessed 26 December 2015].