Richard Billingham 

RAYS A LAUGH, 1996

Richard Billingham published his book, Ray’s a Laugh in 1996. The book consisted of a collection of candid photographs of his own family. The photographs were created to dipict poverty and deprivation and the effects on family life. The photographs themselves are raw and gritty. Not because of the images themselves, but because they feel so real. It is not often we see photographs of family life for what it is. Unpretentious and imperfect. 

The way the photographs are taken add to the overall feel and story within the collection. Billingham chose to take the photographs using the cheapest film he could find. The images are most cases of the moment, unfocused and at first appearance are quite untasteful but these only adds to the truthfulness of the collection. The images work together to tell a story of the family. At first in some images the mother and father give the impression that they are quite diffunctional family. The images of the overweight and tattooed mother and alcoholic father all adds the grittiness of the overall collection. 

Altogether the images show quite an unpleasant side to the family with the obvious issues with addiction, but by end of the collection you see the the true personalities of the parents shine through the somewhat qrougec images. The images then start to become quite sincere and strangely feel comforting to me. This is because they give a sense of reality own life and upbringing. This is not due to the sense theme of poverty or even the images of addiction, but through the truthfulness of the images. What would I see if someone came in and took photographs of my family life. Would I look at them a see what I wanted to see? Probably not. This is because we build are own pretence of what we look like and how we live or like to be seen to live. It is not often that we see ourselves for who we truly are and sometimes it is a shock when we see our own reality. 

As well as a truthful dipiction on family life the photos also show the effects in which poverty may have on a family, through addiction and ill-health. The links between addiction, such as alcoholism and poor health such as obesity and poor diet as well as poor metal health are much greater in low income families. 

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