Michelle Sank is a consummate documentary photographer whose portraiture reflects a preoccupation with the human condition. Her sensitive method of working and the trust that she builds with her subjects is a critical factor in realising her pictures and gives her empathetic but charged studies an authorship and authenticity which can be both revealing and intimate at the same time. This double-edged quality is evident in her numerous series of portraits which deal with the notion of impending adulthood against the milieu of British society today.
A monograph of her images alongside contributory essays by the photographer David Goldblatt and Els Barents - the Director of Huis Marseilles in Amsterdam - will be published in November 2006. More of Sank's work can be viewed at www.michellesank.com
These images are from a project about Young Carers, children under the age of 18 in Britain who are often the main carers for a sick parent or sibling. Because they are different, they are often exposed to bullying from schoolmates and lack a sense of identity as individuals in their own right.
They are also robbed of a normal childhood, taking on the trappings of adult responsibility long before it is due.
With these portraits, I wanted to empower these young people with a sense of their own identity and normality. I wanted to remove them from their home environment and place them within 'light' and outside spaces. By getting them to dress in something they chose, to be in environments that they enjoyed and most importantly to be themselves, I think for that moment in time they felt special, grounded and free.