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Answering Adversity


Jennifer Allison, Team Toronto
Web site: www.thejenallison.com

Family has always been important to me. Having lost my father to a heart attack three years ago, I know more than ever how important family is. My parents chose to raise their children in Thunder Bay, Canada; a city that has seen many economic and social sufferings but provides the chance to learn about work ethic, the outdoors, and a certain quality of life.

For this project, I chose to photograph the Armstrong family. I have known the Armstrong’s for fifteen years and the importance of family has been constant and resilient.

The parents, Tom and Jo-Anne, also chose to raise their family in Thunder Bay. Tom stopped working due to heart surgery five years ago and suffers from emphysema and diabetes. If health issues didn’t stop him from working, the economy would have. Tom works odd jobs when he can and Jo-Anne works full time.

They make it a priority to have a fridge full of food to feed family and friends. They also both help to raise their three grandchildren. During the course of the project, Tom was in a serious logging truck accident and Jo-Anne’s mother survived a heart attack. The strong family bond was ever-present during these unfortunate events.

Their son Kevin lost his job months before his son Kade was born. Kevin built his home soon after and is now working many overtime hours welding. He is venturing into organic farming to provide better food for his family.

Tom and Jo-Anne’s daughter Kerri-Anne and her boyfriend Lloyd moved from Calgary to live with Kevin when she was seven months pregnant. Kerri-Anne spends her days raising her two girls while Lloyd’s work takes him out of town most weeks.

As a photographer I wanted to convey the raw and instinctual decisions we must make for our family. To do this, I chose to use a 4x5 camera, which helped create true and simplistic images. Since these photographs glance into the lives of the families, I feel it is important that mystery remains. There is limited information on the lives of these families; perhaps it can challenge our perspectives on the decisions others make to provide a better quality of life for their family.

© Jennifer Allison
All images in this article © Jennifer Allison

© Jennifer Allison

© Jennifer Allison