About the winning photographer
This photograph of Eha (left) by Sirli Raitma (right) was the winning photograph in the Bedford Park Festival Photography competition 2019. The picture is one of a series of portraits Sirli has taken of her mother. Despite her ease in front of a camera, Eha had never been a model before she started sitting for her daughter in the last few years. Though she studied fashion in her youth, her career was as a book-keeper. Sirli was a banker before getting interested in photography when her son Harvin studied it with John Miller at Chiswick School. She and her mother, originally from Estonia, now have great fun picking up outfits at Chiswick car boot sale for Eha to wear for Sirli to photograph.
This is what Sirli says about her pictures of her mother:
‘EHA is a series of portraits of my mother, portrayed in a series of unusual situations, poses and attire. Eha was born in Estonia in 1950, moving to London with myself and my son (Harvin Alert), just before the dawn of the new millennium. Widowed, suffering from epilepsy and lacking great command of English, Eha stayed tightly involved in our lives. In 2015 Eha began to suffer from depression. Life became bleaker. Something had to be done. I came up with a plan to give her something new to focus on, beyond her new procession of doctor’s appointments and medications. The ‘EHA’ project was born.
‘Eha revealed herself to be a natural model, happy to play along with my increasingly imaginative visual fantasies. The ‘EHA’ project has had an effect on both of us. It is encouraging to see that the results for us are also having a resonance for others. The project has featured in UK and Estonian magazines, The feedback from readers has been fantastic and is consistent it that it has prompted many to look at their own family situations and how they treat each other.’
Sirli, although self-taught, is now semi-professional and you can see more of her work here: sirliraitma.com