I often question how long portraiture will remain relevant as a genre in this age of digital immediacy. But as a lifelong photographer I’m always reminded that a portrait will never fail to be pertinent because of our self-reflexive instinct to study the face of another and recognise it as our own.
When interviewing the sitters throughout this project we always asked, “What does portraiture mean to you?” The answers were as varied and unique as the sitters themselves – from family memories to questioning what it means to be a person in the world today.
For me, it is exactly this empathetic self-reflection of looking into the face of another and sharing that human experience that I’ve always found so interesting. I asked my young niece Cora, as one of our sitters, who she saw in her mind when she imagined a portrait. She answered, “Me!” and perfectly reflected for me this fascination with portraiture.
The only visually consistent aspect throughout this series is the gaze of the sitters. Without any other instruction I asked each to look directly into the lens, allowing them to posture themselves however they naturally felt when confronting the camera. In this way, I wanted the resulting portraits to not only reflect the dialogue between us, the photographer and sitter, but to carry on and create another connection with you, the viewer.
Though this collection of portraits is a considerable representation of what it means to be a Southsider it is unavoidably incomplete, as this vibrant community undergoes continual change. But what these photographs do offer is my sincere interpretation, a slice of my own community, and an essence of what it is to be part of this amazing pocket of Edinburgh.
Artist / Photographer
Photographer Peter Dibdin has exhibited his work throughout the UK and internationally. He has lived for photography since first picking up a camera at age 14 in his native Dorset. Currently, Peter works commercially from his Summerhall studio in Edinburgh, the city’s premier creative hub, where his photography has featured on billboards, magazines and online publications for a variety of local and international companies.