My current focus on themes of memory, identity and place has led to a developing curiosity about how photography could be used to help those who struggle with their own reminiscence. This curiosity led me to explore vocational applications such as dementia care and active volunteering.

My interest in the relationship between photography and how it helps those with memory loss started with research into Lawrence Aëgerter,’s project, ‘Photographic Treatment’ (2016). She approached her goal of improving the lives of those effected through a collection of ‘photographic diptychs’ containing images which were paired together with the aim of testing the cognitive functions of dementia patients. Inspired by this approach, I wanted to seek my own opportunities to develop a series of reminiscence workshops in appropriate settings over the summer vacation.

My approach was developed in two separate but related phases – one with the Fair Close Day Centre and the other with Willows Edge residential Care Home, both in Newbury. They offered different settings, some different challenges, but also common themes in terms of learning, planning and delivery.

I planned initial sessions around individual participants sharing personal photos from their family past. The feedback from the evaluation form I designed indicated that they found the discussions around them rewarding and had never used images in this way a means of stimulating memory before the session, despite having their photographs at home.

My second series of sessions provided the opportunity to work with groups rather than individuals, using general stimulus photos. I decided to use a combination of photos illustrating memories that were precious to me on the basis that, by sharing my own memories with the participants, it would make it easier for them to share theirs with me. Alongside these, I also created a series of general visuals of what I thought could potentially be of interest to the residents. These included images of famous singers and sporting events as well as those from the seaside in the 1960s, TV shows and cats and dogs to see if they would potentially trigger any memories of their own pets.

The primary lesson I learned from these sessions was the unique satisfaction of taking key concepts from my practice and applying them to real world scenarios to positively help others and, I believe, to demonstrate how photography has the unique power to stimulate reflection in those who suffer from memory loss.

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