Dublin-born music and portrait photographer Ruth Medjber has taken photographs of Beyoncé, Metallica, Billie Eilish and the Foo Fighters in her career. Her new book of photography, Twilight Together, captures the people of Ireland at twilight, at home because of the Coronavirus pandemic…
JOHN & DENA
My friends John and Dena had just moved to within 2 km of my home as lockdown started. Dena was a few weeks away from her due date, and we planned to do a shoot while she was still pregnant. We all thought that lockdown would be long over by the time the baby arrived, but joked that if it was still going on, we could recreate the shot with the three of them. A month or so later a message arrived: ‘Baby Elliot is ready for his lockdown portrait’.
So many babies were born into this strange time. The restrictions in hospitals meant that visitors were asked to stay away, and even John had to leave Dena and their son shortly after the birth. He was only allowed to return a few days later to collect them. My heart went out to all these young families, deprived of their first few days together, having to make do with video calls and photos. The babies, thankfully, remain blissfully unaware of what all the fuss was about.
Some events in 2020 were bigger than the pandemic – they spurred reactions and mobilized millions of people across the world. In Ireland, the Black Lives Matter marches, protests and vigils proved just how much many Irish people cared about the atrocities happening in the US, and how vehement we are that racism is not something that is welcome here. Musician Erica Cody spoke out and was a strong voice that many people needed to hear, articulating an uncomfortable but necessary truth with passion and dignity.
LEANNE & FAMILY
Being from a minority background, I always make sure that my work is as inclusive as possible. I want it to be a true representation of all the people and communities of Ireland. I want people to have the opportunity to recognise themselves in the portraits – their own ethnicities, religions, races and cultural backgrounds. This was something that was missing from my life when I was growing up, and I’m trying to change things for future artists. One of the highlights of my travels was a trip to Cork to meet Leanne and her family. She is a young, successful, female photographer from the Travelling community and I’m always excited to meet more women in my line of work.
I met her and her family outside their lovely mobile home. Her charming young boys were excited to have a visitor, and begged me to watch them do tricks with their football (they hadn’t had an outside audience in months). I was amazed by this woman, so much younger than me, with a bright career, a beautiful family and an incredibly strong sense of self-worth. I’m honoured that my small circle of friends has grown to include her, and I’m so happy that young members of Leanne’s community will grow up with her as a role model.
Twilight Together, out now,
published by Doubleday Ireland.