Exercise – Bryony Campbell: “The Dad Project”

This exercise asks how two linear photo essays – Bryony Campbell’s The Dad Project and W Eugene Smith’s Country Doctor, compare.

I found the two articles very different. Firstly,  the linear essay, The Dad project – which moved me deeply having lost my own Dad to cancer, is intensely personal and involved. It presents how Father and Daughter collaborate closely to work through a very difficult and emotional period of time. The narrative leading the reader through from diagnosis to death is strong and clear, and while the captions add to the poignancy the story would be just as strong in their absence. The series is shot with simplicity and honesty. Miss Campbell is on one hand able to photograph the unseen (love, hope, angst, grief and death) with subtlety and creativity whilst on the other hand hitting us hard with the cruel reality of the situation. The seesaw effect of uncertainty and optimism is very powerful. 

Bryony 2  bryony 3


Country Doctor may portray the varied work the doctor on a day-to-day basis, but is not truly linear. The images make for a cohesive piece of narrative but could just as easily work as stand alone. They are matter-of-fact and lack the intimacy and emotion of The Dad Project. Perhaps this is because his patients are strangers and the photographer was detached from the subject matter. The composition is considered throughout giving the project a staged appearance. It is a documentary narrative that suggests true events but the reader will make their own mind up.

country doctor   country doc 2


What do I think Bryony Campbell means by “an ending without an ending”? 

The photographs will provide a permanent record of the precious time with her Dad. I also feel the project’s ongoing interest and discussions with the public will allow Bryony to keep her Dad in the present. She is continually recognising fresh and different aspects within the images and thus as the story continues it revives her memories. When one loses someone close through illness it is an ending, but a relief, however the love never dies, therefore there is no ending.

Smith, W.E. (1948) Country Doctor. Life Magazine [online] available at http://life.time.com/history/life-classic-eugene-smiths-country-doctor/#1 [accessed 27th June 2016]

Campbell, B. (2011) The Dad Project [online] available at http://www.brionycampbell.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/The_Dad_Project_Briony_Campbell.pdf [accessed 27th June 2016]