Sara Davidmann successfully represented a minority group of people without taking advantage, or falsely representing them, to fit with her own personal narrative. She made a strong distinction between the idea of a subject and a participant, with her focus being very much on letting the participants in her photographs decide how they are perceived through the work. Davidmann’s work with transgender people is a collaborative effort between photographer and participant, creating a safe space for the participants where they can be sure they will not be misrepresented or put in potential danger, which is a genuine and very real concern for people in the transgender community, within this society. There were sacrifices that Davidmann had to make, not being able to always capture the photograph she wanted, but this was a sacrifice she willingly made to allow her participants the freedom and safety they required.

It is a wonderful narrative that is created in her work, not just by correcting the mistakes of the media that so often portray transgender people as tragic, isolated deviants, but also by creating a noticeable dialogue between her and them that draws attention to how important body image is to the transgender community and lets them be proud of the body that is shown in her photographs. She has become a part of their narrative without taking away focus or their voice.

I find Davidmann’s work with her family an interesting comment on the dynamic of a photo album, and a fascinating look into how her work has created a personal narrative for Davidmann herself.
The truths about Ken that were revealed to her because of her work, to me, show that by representing people in an informative and conscientious fashion you allow for better understanding and more revealing dialogue to be created.
It’s easy to take a photograph showing what you want it to show and then leaving without giving the subject a choice in their own representation, but by making them a participant and letting them have a voice, through your work, you allow for truths that are unsullied by your personal interpretations to surface and give people a chance to connect, feel raised up and become strengthened through your work. Photography is a powerful tool that can reveal truths and be used as a platform for informing people about things they would otherwise be misinformed about through the media and/ or societies prejudices.

For me, Davidmann’s photographs mean a lot to me and what I wish to do with my PHONAR work. Davidmann created a narrative and dialogue that was a truthful representation without taking advantage of the subject. I want to do the same with my photographs, working off of my Spoken Narrative task.
I am considering how I can appropriately represent people without pushing my own narrative onto them, and at the moment I don’t think I can. I am only just telling my own story and am not comfortable with the idea of relinquishing control over my work yet. Because of this, I will focus of creating my own personal narrative, drawing inspiration from Davidmann’s work and the other photographers we have listened to in Phonar to create something that is informative and a truthful representation of something that is a difficult subject, but a subject that needs to be revealed.

I spoke about in my Spoken Narrative task post shouting loudly enough for myself and for victims/ survivors who do not have their voice/ cannot speak for their own safety. I think that definitely still applies, and I will try to keep that concept in mind while I take my work forward.

https://storify.com/emma_shea/sara-david

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