Studio Nan / Real Nan

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I was asked to scan in this image of a client’s grandmother, taken as a remembrance on the eve of her daughter’s emigration to Britain from the West Indies. The client mentioned that the photo (left) did no justice to her grandmother’s personality, a failing which is clearly a combination of haste and negligence on the part of the photographer. Together, we undid the damage and converted formidable, stern Nan into the one she remembered.
The question was, ‘Is this how you remember your grandmother?’ The next question is therefore whether to adjust it to be more faithful to the memory of the sitter is to be unfaithful to historical truth.

Does emotional truth take precedence over the chemical record of the moment, snatched briefly without any sympathy with the sitter, or much real consideration of the needs of the target audience for the photograph?
The slight rotation of the head, plus ‘smearing’ of the edges of the mouth with Photoshop make the photographed Nan more like the real Nan, according to her grand-daughter. Which reality is truer?


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