Sustenance

This week we have been talking about photo-elicitation and how photographs help us to remember events, places, feelings and more. Auto-elicitation is when one event, place, feeling etc. prompts us to remember another, each one enabling us to tell another story.

Photo-elicitation was first used by American anthropologist John Collier Jr. (1913-1992) who worked for the Farm Securities Administration in the early 1940s. He was influenced by the likes of Dorothea Lange and Paul Strand. I also find it interesting that he suffered accidents that left him with hearing loss and learning disabilities. I wonder if he purposely used photography and photo-elicitation helped him to remember stories himself.

A flickr page has been created with a comprehensive collection of Collier’s photographs.

Our task this week is to create some images that will help us elicit stories on the theme of ‘sustenance.’

The dictionary describes sustenance as ‘the means of sustaining life or nourishment.’

I thought about this and what sustains or nourishes me personally. I could have got quite deep and meaningful and taken photos that talked about God, relationships, family, a sense of purpose, or even love but I chose to go with something much more basic. What can be more basic for our sustenance than bread. It has nourished millions of humans for the past 30,000 years and the range of types of bread found not only in the UK and around the world is vast.

I began by making a couple of loaves of bread myself. I chose to make a honey glazed walnut loaf, one of Mary Berry’s recipes. It is a favourite of both my mum and me and I often make it when I go to stay with her or when she comes to stay with me.

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I think the first time I made this bread was on Boxing Day at my parent’s house where we ate it sliced and filled with prawns as sandwiches. I remember one of my brothers being typically derogatory about the look of it until he went back for seconds or event thirds! Then my niece was telling everyone to wash their hands and not to go near her brother because he is allergic to nuts.

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I took my loaves of bread to an event we had at church this weekend. We inducted a new pastor, had a conference and celebrated the church’s anniversary. After all that we shared lunch together as a church family. This photograph is of the ladies that cooked, served and cleared away the food for over 100 people.

These ladies are an amazing team that go into action whenever there is a need for event catering. This reminded me of the wedding that we did in the same hall last summer. I was doing the wedding photographs while this team were decorating the hall, laying tables and creating a very luxurious buffet for around 80 people.

At the same event, some of the young people in the youth group that I run were serving the food and drinks and doing a great job to ensure that everyone had everything they needed. I was very proud of them.

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These are two of my very good friends having a taste of the bread. Both are great fun and have already been with me through many ups and downs. I have an endless supply of stories and recollections about them both individually and together.

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I was pleased to see that my bread was very popular and didn’t last very long at all. However I had only had a small piece of the walnut bread by this time and was getting very hungry.

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Although, this isn’t the bread I made, it is meant to highlight the bigger picture of many of my friends chatting and sharing Sunday lunch together. Bread may be what sustains me physically but my friends and family sustain me socially and emotionally.

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