Michelle Sank is a documentary photographer whose portraiture records the uniqueness of what it means to be human. Originally from South Africa she now lives and works in the UK.
The groups she photographs all have something in common , they form a community , a group of people who individually may seem disparate but have a common bond that unites them. I feel this makes her work very relevant when considering how to approach the criteria set for the 1st assignment.
Her work really interests me as I hope to combine my love of portraiture with the documentary assignments for this course . Her subjects range from children under 18 , in the series Young Carers , who provide the principle care for an ill family member to Wondrous , which celebrates the beauty of elderly women. She photographs her subjects in colour at a location , not against a blank background , in private and public spaces.
These portraits were shot away from the carers’ home .The interesting thing about these images is that without the accompanying text it is difficult to consider the context and what , apart from age, connects them.
“With these portraits, I wanted to empower these young people with a sense of their own identity and normality. I wanted to remove them from their home environment and place them within ‘light’ and outside spaces. By getting them to dress in something they chose and to be themselves, I think for that moment in time they felt special, grounded and free.” Michelle Sank .
The images are excellent and a just celebration of womanliness in older women but I feel quite uneasy looking at them . I am unsure why but wonder if it is because of the way subjects are posed and dressed , Sank comments she is “interested in the vulnerability of my subjects ‘
and I think this comes across in the studies she has made of the women. I wonder if she suggested the pose or if the women chose how they were portrayed?