When I started my Final Major Project, I had a clear idea of what I wanted to do; my approach was a social documentary, and I tried to portray my subject as accurately as possible.
I am motivated by telling stories that develop through observation, true-life brings out the humanist in me, and I try to provoke emotions. I love the people of the world and find them fascinating. I look for subjects to photograph that make my work unique. My inspiration lies beneath the surface of a person and understanding how I can interpret their point of view.
The moment I gaze through the viewfinder, I am transported to another universe, free of troubles and where I can express myself and tell stories about people that would otherwise be kept secret and unknown. I chose to make a film in real-time, leaving no room for confusion about whether my subject was happy about being filmed.
My inspiration came from the following films: Nanook of the North – Robert Flaherty, On the border – Lizzie Thynne, Directed by Tweedie – Duncan Cowles, Sign of the Times by Martin Parr, and more recently Louis Theroux; they share a stylish slow-moving aesthetic. August Sander, Bill Brandt, and Diane Arbus are other influences.
In Sign of the Times, the camera pans around rooms, focussing on the décor and belongings. On other occasions, it remains in one place with no sound; silence infuses a powerful impact in film and directs the viewer to a specific moment in time. I was intrigued by poetic narrative and incorporated it into my documentary.
A Pause for Thought is a 20-minute film about Lynne, a 71-year-old woman who has battled leg ulcers for many years and has always struggled with movement; it follows her journey from childhood to the present day when she is bed-bound and unable to leave the house, Lynne was hoping that this film would help others who may be in her situation, and it could make them see how they might avoid what she is going through. She believes that excessive scratching caused her ulcers, and she wanted to share this information. The film breaks the fourth wall, and it has improved Lynnes’ self-esteem.
Documentary films have become popular; audiences love going behind closed doors. Lynnes’ story is difficult to contemplate, and the core of my work is to raise awareness of the life that she is living, giving her something else to focus on and making it known that she matters. It is a compelling story, and it depicts a history of tragic circumstances.
I consider myself fortunate that I can interact with anyone; finding common ground with the subject is natural for me. It is not just about a fly on the wall technique; when someone lets their guard down, it conjures a naturalness that you cannot achieve from posing and radically transforms the whole tone of an image. I can reflect on that and engage the audience with many human emotional responses.
My films are available to watch on YouTube @Diana Janes Photography and the link for A Pause for Thought is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m2zrP3A4NqA&t=402s
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