Identity: The ‘Who Am I’ Project (BBC Voices, 2020)

By Ciéra Cree – In May, BBC Radio Norfolk, together with Taryn Everdeen, launched an Instagram project on the theme of ‘identity’. The project entailed taking a photo of…

By Ciéra Cree

In May, BBC Radio Norfolk, together with Taryn Everdeen, launched an Instagram project on the theme of ‘identity’. The project entailed taking a photo of yourself surrounded by items that link to who you are. This photo would then be posted onto their social media along with a one minute voice over discussing the photo.

As soon as I heard about this project I was keen to get involved. I enjoy participating in projects anyway but there was something particularly intriguing about trying to capture an identity within a single image. It was also interesting to see a project like this taking to Instagram and I really liked how the one minute length would perfectly suit the platform.

Quite a few ideas raced around my head initially before taking any photographs. I wanted to make my photo visually appealing and clever but at the same time I didn’t want to make it seem overly constructed to the point that it would detract from the main point of the task itself. This project isn’t about taking a perfect photo, it’s about taking one that captures your identity, and as humans we are all flawed.

Eventually I decided to take my photo laying down to reflect my “grounded” nature as well as the fact that I often dream. I surrounded myself with a number of items including some of my favourite novels, an anthology of love poetry that I’ve been published in, some philosophy books, a camera, a pair of binoculars, a scented candle, and some handwritten letters.

When shooting photos for this it took a little while to figure out the best way to go about it and the right way to space the items within the frame. At first I placed objects around my entire body but this proved to work less effectively than placing them closer together. In my final version the image is more zoomed in and I decided to add in a thought bubble which says the word ‘dreams’ to more fluently connect to the fact that my eyes are shut as I’m laying there dreaming.

After the photoshoot was over I went home to record the one minute audio accompaniment for the image. I scripted up what I planned to say before taking the photos as writing it prior to the shoot helped me to visualise how I wanted my identity portrayal to look. In a way a minute is a long time in regards to how many words you can script but, when undertaking this project, I quickly realised that I had to be somewhat concise as there’s so much that can be said about ‘identity’. My final dialogue came out as follows:

‘Hi, I’m Ciéra. I’m 20 years old and live in a quiet little village called Beeston. I’m a person with unapologetic passion and an unending trail of ideas. From poetry and photography to singing, songwriting and writing articles, the desire to create within me will never die. I think a lot, especially philosophically, and I feel a lot too. At times these depths are my enemy but as I’ve grown older I have started to learn how to embrace them as my own. I have an affinity for old fashioned things such as handwritten letters and vintage dresses, and an incredible sense of adoration for the sky. I do my best to be a grateful person and appreciate each moment as much as possible, although it isn’t always easy. My heart is soft, I love hugs and giggle way too much, and I dream nearly every night. Who knows, maybe you will appear in one someday.’

I did my best to think about small details within the piece. For example, the blue book next to me called ‘The Sky Is Everywhere’ is not only a favourite book of mine, but it also linked well to where my audio accompaniment mentioned that I have ‘an incredible sense of adoration for the sky’

My advice to anyone who is potentially interested in a project like this is to think about what you’re going to do but to simultaneously try not to overthink it. When you ponder your identity what are the first thoughts and ideas that come to mind? What resonates with you?

For more details on the project and to view people’s submissions visit @norfolkthesocial

Images: Ciéra Cree, Aidan Drury and K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash