CLOSE UP: Eloise Campbell – Conversations with My Father

A woman in different stages of life. Some with a little girl, some out at a party.

© Eloise Campbell

Shutter Hub member Eloise Campbell has been captivated by photography since childhood. Borrowing her father’s camera sparked her passion. As she matured, she recognised the subjective nature of the medium. She has explored various aspects, particularly documentary photography, capturing musicians on and off the stage, travelling around the world and documenting the lives of nomadic, indigenous cultures, and working with various charities.

She now works in the realm of art photography, discovering great joy in creating deeply personal work. Photography continues to be a powerful means of communication for Eloise, connecting her with others and inviting them to see the world through her lens. 


When my mother passed away a year and a half ago, ten years after my father’s departure, I inherited my father’s extensive collection of negatives. It was from this moment that “Conversations with My Father” came to life. The project emerged as a depiction of what I perceive as the third form of grief – losing the memories of our loved ones.

Images layered of a man smiling. Abstract.

© Eloise Campbell

When someone passes away, we find solace in the fact that we will always have our memories of them. However, as time goes by, the treacherous nature of partial forgetting sets in. Recounting what has not been forgotten becomes a challenge, as memory often provides only disjointed fragments. To compensate for these gaps, the imagination often fills in the missing pieces, blurring the lines between reality and fiction, as Freud aptly noted in his paper “Mourning and Melancholia.”

While I do not subscribe entirely to Freud’s theories, it is comforting to recognize that as far back as 1917, there was an understanding of the impact of memory loss on individuals, especially when memories form a significant part of what remains of the departed. Forgetting anything feels like a betrayal – a repetition of their death. Through “Conversations with My Father,” I aim to portray my own fragmented memory, which now resembles more of a dream than a vivid recollection. In a way, it became a collaboration with my father, who was an avid photographer throughout his life.

Inside an old television is a layered image of two people in love.

© Eloise Campbell

The process began with scanning over ten thousand negatives, a task that consumed the entirety of January. Each image I present in this project is a composition of layered photographs taken over the course of my father’s lifetime, spanning from the 1950s until his passing in 2011. After his death, my mother never took another photo. I use these images to convey the essence of how my memories appear – fractured, layered, and ever-evolving.

Abstract layered image of a child, almost resembling a porcelain doll.

© Eloise Campbell

To me, memories often feel like elusive dreams, where faces morph into one another, making it impossible to hold onto a single image. When you haven’t seen someone you know so well for an extended period, recollection fails to preserve a clear visual representation. One thought quickly transforms into twenty or thirty, or perhaps even morphs into an unrelated object, like a chair. Through my father’s archive, I aim to depict the visual chaos of memories by layering these images, and waiting for a composition to emerge that resonates with me, this can take hours or days. The resulting effect often resembles paintings, a fitting medium to capture the surreal nature of memories and dreams.

Layered images of adventures. You can see a lion, elephant, boat, beach, the alps and much much more.

© Eloise Campbell

Photography serves as a vessel to resurface memories, allowing us to almost touch or smell them, while other times, it merely ignites a spark without fully retrieving the memory. Some of the images I encountered during this project felt like rediscovering forgotten stories—the tales of my father’s previous wife, his mother, my mother, and the extraordinary love story shared by my parents. Although titled “Conversations with My Father,” this project encompasses my entire family—the grandmother I never had the chance to meet, the aunt I barely knew, and the love my father had for his friends, cars, women (before my mother entered the picture), myself, and my sister. In the end, they left behind a love letter, written in a language that resonates most deeply with me—photographs.

A woman looking at her reflection in a mirror and a layered image of a child looks back.

© Eloise Campbell

In recent months, I have actively participated in various competitions and grants throughout the UK and Europe, with the aspiration of eventually exhibiting my photography. My primary goal is to share my personal story through my images. By delving into the intricate relationship between memory and mourning, I aim to not only impact viewers but also to embark on a healing journey from the loss of my parents. I hope that as viewers engage with the themes of memory and mourning within my work, they will be able to immerse themselves in each image and find a sense of connection and reliability.

Through my visual narrative, I strive to evoke personal responses and foster a broader understanding of the profound experience of loss. It is my sincerest wish to create an atmosphere in which viewers can find solace and engage in introspection, allowing them to reflect on their own experiences and emotions.
This body of work holds immense personal significance to me, as it represents my own journey of healing and self-discovery. Regardless of the impact it may have on others, the process of creating and sharing this work has already been incredibly therapeutic for me.


To find out more about Eloise’s work, visit her website here.



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