Photography Loss And Memory: a visual account of grief description




Journal Title

Journal ISSN



Volume Title


De Montfort University


Thesis or dissertation

Peer reviewed


The development of academic research and professional practice regarding human aspects of death, dying, bereavement and grief, have emerged as a prolific, diverse and at times controversial area. Much of the theories and expert opinion has been largely expressed in scientific or clinical terms; research and practice from a creative perspective, as a sustained and systematic approach, have received less attention. This practice-led study offers an alternative method to the predominantly theoretical and textual discourse normally encountered within the subject domain. It utilizes the singular or combined application of creative still photography, videography and lenticular technology, as a strategy for the development and application of a ‘considered photographic approach,’ in the study and management of grief. Through creative processes, it explores and interprets human responses to the loss through death of someone close, and demonstrates the value of creative practice as scholarly research, and its significance as a tool for the development of communication and understanding, in the context of therapeutic intervention and personal wellbeing. Divided into five topics, the research themes have been developed from an evaluation of personal experiences, a reading of the creative and scholarly literature relevant to the subject area, and through third party participation. The themes explored through this practice led research are as follows: Pictures From Life: creative practice in a clinical context. Introduces a new UK based photographic led workshop programme, designed specifically for children and young people who have experienced a family death. Through creative practice it opens up a new and stimulating path to the expression of grief, helping to strengthen family communication and understanding. Borderlines: between hope and despair. Drawing on my personal experiences, and those of dose family members, this is an intimate story of a family coping with grief. Its focus is on pre-term infant death, and it explores the notion of emotional, physical and professional boundaries in relation to that experience. Monday’s Child: private memorials and the human bond. Working with case study volunteers, this work reflects on the importance and diversity of the ‘continuing bond’ humans maintain with their dead. Transported through the words of the bereaved, accompanied by images of their private memorials, it invites the viewer to evaluate the relevance of this practice in human adaptation to grief. Conversations: non-verbal communication, biography and grief. Examining the significance of non-verbal visual coding as an expression of grief, this work uses gesture and facial expression as a narrative form. It explores the impact of a sudden death through three personal and contrasting stories. No One Home: death, relationships and social context. Using the landscape of the domestic environment as its focus, this study considers the role of memory and its influence in the new and challenging contexts created for the living, following the death of a close family member. Collectively the visual work incorporated within this research provides a contemporary document and artistic reference, which has proven relevant in a broad range of transdisciplinary contexts Including health, education, research and the arts.





Research Institute