As both a photographer and mother, Jadwiga Brontē’s work utilises social documentary as visual therapy. In projects such as Invisible People of Belarus, a book which tells the story of Belarusian government institutions, Jadwiga cemented her position as a creative who uses her lens to investigate. Most recently, the photographer has continued this approach through The Good Memories, a series which challenges stereotypes about maternity in prison by using “therapeutic photography to strengthen parent-child relations,” Jadwiga tells It’s Nice That.
Originally from Krakow, Poland, Jadwiga moved to London in 2005, studying a BA in photography at Kingston and later an MA in documentary photography and photojournalism at LCC. Describing herself as someone always fascinated with the act of taking photos, she says: “Since I was a little girl I’ve liked photography. I remember using my dad’s Zenit as a young teenager. At the time I didn’t look at photography as a future profession, it was only a tool to capture the memories of the future.”
Memory in turn plays an important role in Jadwiga’s love for photography, and is the central theme in the aptly named The Good Memories. While discussing the parts of the medium she enjoys most, for instance, the power of a photograph to capture but also shift memory is one that endlessly fascinates Jadwiga. Referencing how Roland Barthes “explores photography’s complicated relationship with the truth, including how it can potentially change the meaning of our memories,” it is this method of thinking, and the “plasticity of our memories,” which inspired the photographer to specifically look back at imagery from childhood.
“Each of us has childhood photographs. In a world where smartphones are the norm, parents take photos of almost every aspect of their child’s life; first day, first smile, first tooth and so on,” the photographer says about the beginnings of this project. “We may not remember these situations, but the images are there for us to learn about our lives.” Yet through her research, Jadwiga discovered that children who spend up to the first three years of their life raised in prison, will have no memories of this time and, “Through my project I wanted to fill this gap in their photo-life.”