Over a period of about 10 years or so, I must have taken 300 rolls of film of my brother Mike. I combined these photos with old family snapshots, my journal entries and information garnered from my parents, to create a photographic memoir.
It is a safe bet to say Mike didn’t know that I was using my photography to understand him. He is very low functioning, autistic and has never spoken. I imagine that to him, I was just a guy with a funny black box I held up to my eye every few minutes. I inspected each and every photo to get a clue about my relationship with him, as if there might be some hidden visual cues that I may have missed in real life.
Now and then, (I think) Mike would give me an indication that he had had enough.
He put his hand in front of the camera just as I snapped the shutter. He also seems to think it funny. Maybe he was just smiling at me, or reaching out.
The next photograph seems a bit more obvious. My camera was on a tripod. I was about to take a picture of of us together, when he decided to move away from me. The photograph below is emblematic of the frustration I felt when he avoided me and (it seemed) didn’t want me understand him, or care if I understood him.
I ascribed meaning to the above photos, but I am sure that any story I tell about them will not reveal the truth of the matter as processed by my brother.