The big picture: a reflection of family life
Self-portrait in the mirror and framed image as a schoolboy with my uncle in his favourite chair, 1991. Photograph: Matthew Finn
Matthew Finn’s image of himself and his Uncle Des captures the bond between the photographer and his surrogate father
Matthew Finn reckons that, all in all, he took about 100,000 photographs of his Uncle Des. He began in 1987, when he was 16 and Des was 58. And he finished in 2014, when his uncle died. This image was taken, like nearly all of Finn’s pictures, at home in Leeds, in 1991.
“To give you a bit of context about the family,” Finn told me last week, “my mother never married, and on my father’s death, when I was 21 years old, I found out that he had been married to five other women in Leeds. At the funeral, I was introduced to all these half-brothers and sisters. My uncle never married either. He and my mother lived together as brother and sister for nearly 80 years. The photography meant I could be with them without asking awkward questions.” (Finn has “probably half a million” images of his mother, Jean, 60 of which were published in a widely acclaimed book in 2017.)