Many thanks to one of my co-collaborators for lining up a 'work in progress' iPad shot of one of my visual inquiries into group dynamics just as it started to take shape. The process had involved some informal portraits of a new team as they worked followed by an exhibition of the images to form the basis of an inquiry into how the group was coming together.
Much of what goes on in groups constantly evolves and is very much below the surface. In this case, everyone seemed to be in the process of getting to know each other and figuring out their own view of the group rules as well as what they might be able to achieve together.
When groups or teams form, we typically define the task and then assign a leader. Yet deeply critical to the success of any group are the often overlooked precisely these 'What is my role here?' and 'How will we work together?' questions. Photographic portraits can examine image, reality and perception in a way that raises helpful questions for individuals and groups.
In 'Photography Changes Everything', Marvin Heiferman says that 'We know photographs work , but not quite how they do.' My sense is that, even in these days of extensively photoshopped pictures, our portraits can hold enough of an essence of reality to provoke questions like 'If that is really me, then who am I in this group and what is my purpose...?'
This short little inquiry extended that sort of question and touched into inclusion and exclusion dynamics, power, voice and what was generally 'OK' or otherwise for the group members.
Questions like that, asked of any group, aren't a bad place to start work.