9 inkjet prints, varying sizes, 2017
Everyday, we are forced, if we would like something from over the counter, to interact with somebody, who is just like us. A human being. However, the construction of a physical barrier between the customer, in this case the person who stammers and the employee, creates a feeling, for some who stammer, the need to perform for the person they are being served by.
As a result, this internal unexplainable need to perform heightens the anxiety for the person who stammers. Alongside the nature of the shop counter, the coffee shop, sandwich bar, your local branch of Greggs, this anxiety exacerbates the stammer, a queue forms behind you and the pressure to speak quickly intensifies. This vicious cycle of feelings, emotions and disfluency makes this interaction which others may take for granted, incredibly challenging. This challenge is depicted through the photographic medium, with several people who stammer who have chosen to take part in this photo series, showing this struggle.
Whilst taking each image, the people who stammer who have featured here have each been asked to provide one line of text to describe a thought, emotion or feeling going through their mind as they engage in conversation with the person on the other side of the counter.
‘I still feel some anxiety as I approach and release my air, make eye contact, smile, a big breath and then speak.’
‘This is not a feared situation for me, therefore I feel at ease and I don’t overthink it.’
‘I try to control my speech and prepare what I want to say.’
‘I feel a little nervous at first but eventually I enjoy the connection.’
‘Am I asking for what I want?’
‘I tried not thinking about those in and around me, and in saying what I wanted to say in the way I wanted to say it’.
‘What will happen this time? Will everything go smoothly; both my speech and the transaction? I have no choice; I am here, at the counter. It's my turn.’