Category Archives: Graduation

Unfading Book Dummy

Following the same intention as the title, the requirement for the book design was to reflect both the idea of fading which is associated with alopecia as well as the persistence of the self which this project is primarily supposed to communicate. The process of first looking at the white sleeve with the almost invisible title embossed on its front and back, to then taking out the book with its skin coloured cover, to finally open the book with its vividly coloured images reflects the idea of the unfading self and can be understood as a metaphor of the subjects gaining their self confidence and sense of identity again after being diagnosed with alopecia.

In the back of the book Gwennan Thomas, participant of the project and in charge of the charity Alopecia UK in Wales wrote the text that can be found below text.

01Book dummy

Book sleeve front and back, 2015 © Christoph SoederThe book can be slided out of the sleeve by pulling a ribbon, 2015 © Christoph SoederThe book can be slided out of the sleeve by pulling a ribbon, 2015 © Christoph SoederBook and Sleeve, 2015 © Christoph SoederBook and Sleeve, 2015 © Christoph SoederFirst portrait in the book of Siobain, 2015 © Christoph SoederFirst portrait in the book of Siobain, 2015 © Christoph SoederVictoria (l.) and Gwennan, 2015 © Christoph SoederVictoria (l.) and Gwennan, 2015 © Christoph Soeder

 

Lost identity can force one to grieve, hide away or shut down, but closing one chapter can result in the opening of another.

Being a woman can be tough, but with social media at the forefront of today’s society, living in the 21st Century as a woman can be a battle; having to contend with the latest hairstyle trends or fashion statements.

Life for a woman with alopecia however is harder. 1.7% of the population experience alopecia; the partial or complete absence of hair from areas of the body where it normally grows: baldness.

Hairstyles, as well as eyebrows and eyelashes, which can be taken for granted, frame one’s facial features and losing them can result in a lost identity, forcing a woman to feel vulnerable, naked and often less feminine.

For many, an inner strength is revealed which is both astounding and beautiful. When faced with adversity, one can make a choice, you decide on the path you take.

 Gwennan Thomas, Alopecia UK

Sally

One of the biggest pleasures at the opening night of my graduation show has been to welcome Sally. Sally who’s a leader of the Alopecia UK Bath, Bristol and Wiltshire support group took off her wig for the first time ever in front of someone to be photographed for my project and described this as taking the next step in accepting alopecia. Although being slightly startled seeing her image so big on the wall at the beginning, Sally appreciated her visit to the show and has now started to let people know about her condition by publishing her image online. It’s an honour seeing my project tying into this process and having some very concrete and positive impact. Thanks for letting me be part of this Sally!

Sally describes going through alopecia and the steps of dealing with it in her own words here on prettybald.co.uk. PrettyBald is run by Victoria who also participated in the project and is a great initiative raising positive awareness and helping people affected by alopecia.

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With Sally in front of her portrait at the grad show opening in Cardiff. 2015 Photo © Catalin Munteanu

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With Sally and Ioanna who did the fabulous makeup for most portraits including Sally’s. 2015 © Catalin Munteanu

Unfading

Sally from the series Unfading. 2015 Photo © Christoph Soeder

 

 

Unfading Graduation Show

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2013 – 2015: BA (Hons) Documentary Photography at the University of South Wales

On Friday 29th May 2015  the graduation show opened at West Wharf Gallery in Cardiff. Is was big pleasure presenting my most recent project Unfading there alongside some fabulous work by my course mates. Three years of studying on the BA (Hons) Documentary Photography at the University of South Wales Newport are now coming to an end. It has been a fabulous time!

Unfading shows women affected by alopecia, a hair loss disease which is thought to be related to the immune system but the exact cause of which is unknown, as is any promising cure. Affecting 1,7% of the UK’s population and causing complete or partial hair loss, alopecia  is not a life-threatening condition but for most people means a severe psychological shock and threat to their sense of identity. Losing one’s hair often seems to be losing one’s identity. Identity however does not disappear but transforms itself and changes its dress. Accepting hair loss often means going through a phase similar to a grieving process that can be very different from individual to individual.

Gwennan Thomas, one of the participants of the project and advocate of the charity Alopecia UK in Wales says that ‘hairstyles, as well as eyebrows and eyelashes, which can be taken for granted, frame one’s facial features. Loosing them can make a women feel vulnerable, naked and often less feminine and powerless against contending with the latest hairstyle trends or fashion statements. However for many, an inner strength is revealed which is both astounding and beautiful.’

The way the photographs were made aims at supporting and empowering the participants in their individuality. The backdrop reflects a colour which has been chosen for each individual to enhance their characteristic appeal. Participants could, if they wanted, have their makeup done by a makeup artist and the images were considered immediately by both photographer and photographed to be discussed and developed further in cooperation.

Most women when loosing their hair choose to wear a wig. The women in the photographs have taken off their wig, a few already years ago when they decided not to disguise their hair loss anymore, some for the first time in front of the camera.

At the exhibition both the portraits of Gwennan and Sally were displayed as well as the book dummy containing the whole project (which will be described in a separate post). Images were printed on Kodak Endura in 76cm x 114cm and then mounted  on Foamex.

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Portrait of Gwennen (l.) and Sally + the book at the West Wharf Gallery.2015 © Christoph Soeder04_Blog-03-06-2015_1Both images were mounted on Foamex 2015 © Christoph Soeder05_Blog-03-06-2015_1Book sleeve and book showing Emily’s portrait 2015 © Christoph Soeder