A learning resource exploring family relationships, childhood and adolescence. 


Part of the Photoworks Festival 2022. 

A learning resource exploring family relationships, childhood and adolescence inspired by the work of Diana Tamane. 


Half Love by artist Diana Tamane explores familial relationships, childhood memories, love and adolescence.  

Diana Tamane is a Latvian-born artist based in Tartu, Estonia. In her series Half Love, Diana documents her relationship with her younger half sister Elina. Since 2008, Tamane has been photographing Elina using the backdrop of their family’s summer house during their yearly family holiday in Kursīši in Vārzas, Latvia, where Tamane herself had spent her childhood summers.  

‘It is so difficult to express myself in words, and much easier in photographs. It is my way to understand, to love’.  

Extract from a letter written to Elina from Diana as part of Half Love.   

Half Love features a selection of portraits of Elina alongside landscapes, objects and moments that hold special significance for the sisters. The images are accompanied by a letter written to Elina from Diana, where she reflects on her younger self and passes on sisterly advice to Elina’s future self.   

The passing of time is a recurring theme for Tamane, which she symbolises through her portraits of Elina throughout the years, and her observations of light, nature, landscapes and the domestic spaces that both sisters inhabit. 

I. The Subject of Family

Documenting the family continues to be a compelling subject in photography, with artists such as Sally Mann, Mathew Finn and Elinor Carucci spending decades turning the lens inwards and observing the lives of their loved ones.  

Photographs reveal more than who or what we see inside the frame, they often also reflect something about the photographer themselves.  

© Diana Tamane, Half-Love


Read Tamane’s letter to Elina. Working in pairs, select two photographs from Half Love. The first photograph should reveal something about Tamane and the second photograph should represent something about Elina.  

To help you with your selection, consider 

  • Who or what is in the photograph? 
  • What story is happening inside the frame?  
  • What angle was the photograph taken from and how does this viewpoint impact your reading of the image?  
  • Is there any symbolism in the photograph, what do you think it represents? 
  • What is the overall mood in the photograph, what emotion do you think the photographer is trying to convey and why? 

Share and discuss your selection with the rest of the group. 

II. Sensory Imagery


Some of Tamane’s images have a strong sensory quality that invites the viewer to experience the various textures of her surroundings, and to feel the warmth of the golden summer light. For example, sunlight sparkling on the surface of the sea.

Think of a memory you have from a childhood summer and write a description of it. It could be from a family holiday, a day at the park or beach, or even an afternoon in the garden.  

In your description, include: 

  • Where were you and what are you doing?  
  • What time of day was it and what was the weather like?  
  • What colours do you remember and what was the light like on this day? 
  • Do you remember any tastes, textures, sounds or smells?  
  • How does this memory make you feel?   

Draw a picture and/or write notes about what you could photograph to reflect this memory in one single image.  

Think carefully about the angle and the point of view of your image. Would it be close up, medium or wide length shot? Think about the lighting, textures and colour tones in your photograph. How would you use them to evoke a sense of memory, and activate some of the viewer’s other senses such as touch, taste, smell or sound? 

Share your description and drawing with the group, and give each other feedback on it.  

© Diana Tamane, Half-Love
© Diana Tamane, Half-Love


Make an image that represents your childhood memory using the guidelines you have drawn, or instructions you have written. 

How would you approach making this photograph?  

What tools and props might you need?  

What challenges might you face? 

III. Visual Metaphors & Symbolism


Photographers often use visual metaphors (clues) or symbolism to reference specific themes, and to evoke particular emotions and convey meanings that they are exploring in their project.  

Symbolism is when things (an object, place or person) represent other things (an idea or wider concept) that aren’t physically in the frame. For example the photograph of Elina wearing an earring with a cross on it may symbolise faith or religion. When we further look at the visual language in this image for clues, Elina is also looking away from the camera and looking straight ahead. This may be interpreted as her reflecting on her past or looking into the future.   

In pairs, select four images from Tamane’s series and write down what themes, emotions and meanings you can find in her photographs. Look out for symbols and visual clues and see if there is a visual connection between the images.  

Share and discuss your selection with the rest of the group. 

© Diana Tamane, Half-Love

IV. Past, Present, and Future

© Diana Tamane, Half-Love


Create a series of three personal images that represent something of your past, present and hopes for your future. 

Try to combine landscape, still life and portraiture photography in your three images, so each photograph reflects one of these photographic genres.  

Each image should represent something about the: 

  1. Past  
  2. Present 
  3. Future 

The past could reflect a childhood memory or a significant object or place from your past. The present should reveal something about how you feel or what you are interested in right now. The future could reflect a dream or wish for the future or even just symbolise looking ahead into the unknown.  

Share your photographs with the group and give each other feedback on the images. Discuss the concept and meaning behind each of your images and talk about which you feel work well or could be revisited.  

IV. A letter to my future self


Reflecting on the connection between Tamane’s letter to Elina and her photographs, and what you have discussed and discovered through your own creative tasks as part of this learning resource. Write a letter to your future self, which draws from the images you created in the previous exercise.  

Think about what you would share with your future self? Perhaps a precious memory from your childhood that you hope to never forget, or a piece of life advice that would be useful to read, when you are older. Like Tamane, you may also want to share your dreams, wishes and hopes for the future.  

Once you have written it out, place the letter in an envelope with the three final photographs from your past, present and future and keep it safe, so you can read it in the future.   

© Diana Tamane, Half-Love


In her letter to Elina, Tamane draws inspiration from three individuals who are well known for their spiritual guidance and activism.    

Thích Nhất Hạnh was a spiritual leader, poet and peace activist.  

Maya Angelou was a poet, civil rights activist and author. 

Krishnamurti was a philosopher, speaker, religious teacher and writer. 

About the Contributor

Arpita Shah is a visual artist and educator based in Eastbourne, UK. She works between photography and film, exploring the fields where culture and identity meet. As an India-born artist, Shah spent an earlier part of her life living between India, Ireland and the Middle East before settling in the UK. This migratory experience is reflected in her practice, which often focuses on the notion of home, belonging and shifting cultural identities. 

Shah’s work has been exhibited across the UK and internationally, including at the Detroit Center of Contemporary Photography (2013); Tramway in Glasgow (2014); Chobi Mela IX in Dhaka, Bangladesh (2017); Autograph APB in London (2018) Street Level Photoworks in Glasgow (2019) Impressions Gallery in Bradford (2020) and The Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh.  She is the recipient of the 2019 Light Work + Autograph ABP Artist-in-Residence programme in Syracuse NY and her work is held at the National Galleries of Scotland.  

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