The Royal Photographic Society (RPS) has announced a ground-breaking photography exhibition, Portraits of Care, shot by residents and staff at three Bristol care homes.

During Spring 2022, the RPS worked with three Bristol care homes to help care staff create unique photographic portraits of the older people in their care.

Through workshops and tutorials, led by photographer Colin Moody, the care teams were supported to make creative and meaningful images of residents, whilst reflecting on their memories of Queen Elizabeth II.

Touch and Tenderness, Bristol Care Homes, courtesy the RPS

Touch and Tenderness, Bristol Care Homes, courtesy the RPS

The resulting 47 portraits will be displayed at the RPS, in Bristol, from 11 June 2022, with a digital Portraits of Care exhibition preview already online.

Following the exhibition, the portraits will be displayed at the care homes and will then be presented to the participating individuals and their families.

The portrait project was created in partnership with Bristol Care Homes, Arts Council England and the Quartet Community Foundation.

Bristol Care Homes, courtesy the RPS

Bristol Care Homes, courtesy the RPS

The power of the arts

The RPS’s CEO Evan Dawson said, ‘This project demonstrates the special power of the arts to bring people together. The care teams and older people have been brilliant and have clearly benefitted in so many ways from their experiences, learning new skills too. The resulting photographs are powerful, moving and of a very high quality. Please do come and see the exhibition at the RPS, as part of our mission to bring photography to everyone.’

Workshop leader Colin Moody explained, ‘Portraits of Care aims to improve individual and communal wellbeing in the care setting whilst growing their photographic practice. This offers a transformative wellbeing that can grow beyond the project whilst also producing work that offers insight and encourages empathy. It’s essential to get under the surface when documenting social situations – to let the people involved create the work and the story. Working in this way and workshopping with the individuals who live and work in the care homes, was very important. This project has uncovered some talented photographers and inventive ideas. We will continue our journey to bring photography to everyone and continue to allow those involved to share their stories and what they find beautiful, real, strong, and human.’

Jules Challen, A Day in My Life, Bristol Care Homes, courtesy the RPS

Jules Challen, A Day in My Life, Bristol Care Homes, courtesy the RPS

Marcia Ellington, social engagement and wellbeing manager at Bristol Care Home Group, revealed, ‘Every day, our residents’ wellbeing is at the heart of everything we do. It was thrilling to have the opportunity to express the lives of residents through photography. There has been a significant impact in the homes. There was a wonderful atmosphere and both residents and staff were so inspired to start taking pictures of their daily lives and to show off their new skills. This project has given the residents a sense of belonging and has provided them with comfort in their daily lives.’

Bristol Care Homes, courtesy the RPS

Bristol Care Homes, courtesy the RPS

Photography for Everyone

The project demonstrates a new, evidence-based approach to creative photography and draws on the RPS’s new transformative strategy, Photography for Everyone, specifically the Photography for Wellbeing strand that aims to support older people, carers, young carers, and those living with autism, dementia, and disabilities.

Those involved in the project included residents Jules Challen and June Donovan and care staff Michelle Mills, Carly Moore, Marcia Ellington, Naomi Elder, Simon Taylerson, Mariam Mokhtar, Tracy Freke, Sarah Stocker and Julie Farrell.

Portraits of Care is funded by the Let’s Create Jubilee Fund by Arts Council England in partnership with UK Community Foundations, a £5million investment to support voluntary and community organisations to deliver creative activity as part of Her Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

The project is also supported by the Quartet Community Foundation and West of England Creative Business Grants.

You can now view the digital exhibition preview at RPS Portraits of Care.

Bristol Care Homes, courtesy the RPS

Bristol Care Homes, courtesy the RPS

RPS: the royal patrons

Queen Elizabeth II was the Royal Photographic Society’s Patron for 67 years, from 1952 to 2019.

She was succeeded in the role by the Duchess of Cambridge, who is known to be a keen amateur photographer.

To find out more go to the Royal Photographic Society website.

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