The Ties that Bind Us


In a society lacking clear direction, isolation can be a scary thing. The rise of individualism and divisive cultures create a need for community.


I’ve based this project around an extended family group, the most iconic community we have. But it could have been any community of people, friendships or relationship, the images people picture of the family are slowly being replaced. However the structures fall, people come to rely on those groups to sustain them through the hard times and as living record of their successes and life stories as they move forward.


One of the ways communities retain their power to connect, is through stories. Photography is a way of recording those stories for the future, and I’ve replicated these portrait conventions in many of the pictures in this project; in framed and hung images I’ve staged or captured images I’ve seen in homes.


Other communities will write things down or stories will be told through generations. They are not necessarily linear and can be destructive as well as healing, and in many cases are untrue. Whatever there purpose people, like countries, need stories to create the cohesion which people seek.



“Where broken doors and windows feed the cold

Each generation has a sacred task

To tell a better story than it was told

For we are reared by stories in such places.”


extract from, If I was us, I wouldn't start from here by Damian Gorman.


The images in this project were based around shots taken in 2014, although some of the family portraits go back as far as 2005 when I had my first studio.



© Joseph Kaler 2021