I started working on this project long before the selfie became an epidemic.
The project was to reverse the order and to know what it is really like being on the other side of the lens.
I could have titled it easily called it the ‘Impersonator’, the person pretending to be someone else for entertainment as the fraud was being the wrong side of the lens for a photographer. Instead it became ‘Wives’ with my multiple simultaneous wives having me as a dutiful husband if only until the end of the shoot.
My subjects are often uneasy about their photograph being taken, knowing their image is going to be documented perhaps part of their identity being shared; so to produce their best material, I need to make them relax, feel comfortable and less apprehensive. But having done that, I just disappear, hide behind my lens, use the camera as my mask and leave them to it. So how does that make them feel?
I wanted to experience what it was that I expected of others. I wanted to know what it really feels like to be on the other side of the lens, whilst the photographer is masked behind the camera. Was there an adrenalin rush, a feeling of relieve or perhaps an anti-climax?
The fun of being the Photographic Polygamist in ‘Wives’ and the dutiful husband just in time for the flash could never have been achieved without my staged wives, most of whom were good friends and each were game for a laugh.
In each photograph I'm featured with a different wife and dressed according to my wife-type. The only constant was me as the husband and my remote.
The Wives ranged from dead wife to biker wife and lots of wives in the middle. Apart from having an amazing sense of humour, were more than a little bit intrigued by my quirky project and possibly because they could relate to a particular character. My dancing wife was involved with the arts and went on to become chief executive of the English National Opera, my Nurse wife carried on giving me my dreaded flu vaccination each year long after I had grown out of the promise of a McDonalds as a reward for my bravery; my golf wife was one of my golfing hero’s mum.
Or it was because they felt it may be their only opportunity to play out a particular character, how else could I understand why a Vogue Executive would want to be part of a S&M shoot or a PR Executive want to be a hung-over, chain smoking drop-out or a revered hair artist pose alongside the scruff ball of a husband pretending to be the mother from hell.
There were other scenarios too, my dead wife involved my beloved black lab’s ashes, my Austrian wife made sure I dressed up in lederhosen and we were shot in a Bier Keller and my biker wife was shot in a freezing cold garage, so just as well we had our leathers and my Essex wife was exactly that, my Essex wife.