Deciding then to create a series which “had lightness at its core”, Tami and Tony began collaborating on visualising “memories and notions of Dad’s way of living,” the photographer describes. Some are bold signifiers of the Post-It notes Tony leaves around the house as reminders, but others are simply nods to his interests, like “his addiction to charity shop caps,” Tami points out. Each image displays these tiny nuances her family know intimately, and in turn paint a far larger picture of the man as the subject, not the illness. “I want my images to radiate the same energy my Dad brings into a room,” adds Tami poignantly.
While some images across the series relate to particular moments, the intimacy the viewer experiences via Tami’s lens is due to the constant conversation in the build up to each shot. For instance, the photographer explains that: “Whilst my mum and sister aren’t in front of the camera, they are frequently there throughout the image making process.” Then, when Tami is further developing ideas and each image’s art direction, she’ll pitch them her Dad, “to see what he thinks we should do, and 99 per cent of the time he’s keen to try anything.”
As a result, The Dog’s In The Car paints a clear picture of Tony’s personality, but in a way that displays how often the people closest to you know you better than you do yourself. Tami elaborates on this too, noting how whilst the project does utilise the performative lens she wanted it to: “It isn’t of his illness specifically, but a broader enquiry towards ideas of the self,” she tells us. In the case of Tony, the photographer illuminates her father’s ability “to make light of something that other’s would see as a vulnerability,” and how that’s what she finds “most powerful of all,” adds Tami. “I want the images to give my dad the confidence he deserves, by seeing himself the way we see him and recognising his strength.”
In terms of her wider work, The Dog’s In The Car introduces Tami as a confidently considerate photographer, especially when you consider how she’s just only just graduated, in the midst of a pandemic too. Intimacy and family relationships continue deeper into her work and, at a time where communication and openness is deeply needed creatively, we hope Tami’s touch allows her to achieve her goal of making “photography my day-to-day life”.