Sunday, 22 May 2011


This work was perhaps one of the most challenging things I have ever had to produce, not for its technical requirements but for the physical hurdels that I had to overcome.

Whilst some people may not beleive it, I am quite a shy person and find it difficult to approach others, especially strangers, so I decided to push myself to photograph people on Beech Street because I needed to overcome this fear of asking people if i could photograph them, if I am to be sucessful in a career in Photojournalism.

One problem was that I had torn ligaments in my foot meaning I had to walk with crutches, this made things very difficult both practically and because not being able to walk has knocked my confidence so much.

After discussing my intentions and deciding what I would say to people I went to Beech street with the company of my mum as I couldnt carry everything whilst walking on crutches.

The first few houses i went to said no, even after I explained that I lived around the corner, and was producing photographs for a project at University, to show a positive view of life in the north west. I told people it was to celebrate the multicultural society that we live in, as I felt that Beech street was a great example of how it can work, I said i wanted to photograph the people that live here.

I knew that if I could just get one person to allow me to photograph them, I would gain confidence in this and they may know their neighbors and help me to get more people to pose for me. I was right, I knocked on the door of number 25 and explained to Manir what I was doing, he invited me into his home and I told him more about South Africa and how I had been to Peru, he was more than happy to allow me to photograph him.

I used my Canon 5D Mark 2 and a 50mm 1.8 lens. I took a few frames of him sat on the sofa but the house was very dark and I didnt want to have to use high ISO's so asked him if he would stand on the doorstep where there was more light. The weather that day was very sunny but cloudy so I struggled with the sun going behind the clouds then coming out again and had to constantly keep changing my camera settings. I asked him if he knew any of his neighbors and he shouted his friend over and encouraged him to have his photograph taken, he had already said no when I knocked on his door but agreed to let me, and I also photographed his son a few weeks later.

I knocked on every door on Beech Street, there are about 30 houses, and each one after either said no or didnt answer the door. People were very suspicious and many said that I could have annonymous details from them but no photographs, or asked me if I was from the council and assumed that my presence was negative. I found it difficult when so many people said they wouldn't allow me to photograph them, as I wasnt asking for anything obscene and it started to knock my confidence in what I was trying to achieve.

I went back to Beech street and spent 6 half says walking up and down asking people for their permission, or going back to the ones I had photographed and asking for their help. I gradually built up more images of people that allowed to to take their picture:

I decided not to use this image because it was very slightly blurry and i wanted the images to all be of maximum quality and perfectly focused on the face.

Next door to Manir lived a family of which two brothers allowed me to photograph them, they asked very few questions and were happy for me to do it. In fact they didnt say much at all.

The 2nd image is cropped square as I tried out different crops when thinking about framing and layouts for my exhibition.

This is another shot I took of the brothers. I decided not to use this image because I wanted all of the photographs to be portrait format. Because the South Africa brief runs beyond the FMP i may go back and re-shoot them to be used in the SA exhibition.

I photographed a couple from number 19, unfortunately the light was very contrasty as it was another sunny day, so i struggled to get a useable image from them. I went back to re-shoot them as I arranged it with them but there was no answer both times and they work long hours during the week so its been impossible to get hold of them.

As my confidence grew after numerous days spent on Beech street, people seemed more relaxed about me photographing them and I was gradually catching more people in and they were agreeing to be photographed.

There were a few more people that I photographed but the images didnt make the final chosen set, mainly because the lighting wasnt right, because for most of the days i spent on Beech Street it was too sunny and constrasty or raining so badly and dark that it was too wet outside or too dark inside peoples houses.

I dont like the shadows on this ladys face so decided not to use this image, she was very reluctant to allow me to photograph her and said I had to be very quick, so I dont think there would be much chance of getting her to do it again.

Over- all I am pleased with the result, but I feel that had I more time, this could have been an amazing piece of photography. A combination of the wrong weather, my foot and lack of time have made it very difficult to achieve my best work. I look at my work from Peru in comparison and feel that this just isnt good enough. It is possible that I am being too hard on myself but I know that this isnt the best work I have produced in the last 2 years.

I think that this work required relentless shooting and going back more and more to make myself more familiar and approachable to the people on Beech street. But I didnt have the timescale for this and given all of the other briefs at the same time it wasnt possible.

I am disappointed in some respects because I feel that this work has such potential to be a powerful and interesting photo essay.

Friday, 20 May 2011

South Africa Exhibition

My FMP is being used for South Africa so I needed to think about how I would exhibit my work over there.
All plans are just initial ideas at this stage as the planning for South Africa will run beyond this brief.

I have shown an example of how I might set out my work, which can be found in my FMP box file, and i will show the final images here also.

The below images are the final edited images, they may not all be included in the exhibition in Cape Town as space couldnt be limited.

The first images are contextual shots to show the street itself and to help the viewer visualise the homes and lives of the people in the photographs.

It may not be clear on this shot but there is a security camera above the Beech Street sign that has been placed there by one of the residents. Whilst this set is intended to show a positive glimpse of life in the north west, this adds depth. It made me think about why the camera is there, is it the neighbors they dont trust or people walking through the street? The street isnt far from town and could mean that drunken people walk back from the pub or anyone causing trouble, but whatever the reason, these people feel the need to have a camera on their house.

After photographing the people of Beech Street i decided to add some depth and a glimpse into their lives, i didnt want to ask too many personal questions because many people were suspicious about the use of these images and i decided instead to ask them all the same question: "What does happiness mean to you or what makes you happy?" each persons answer seems to tell us a little more about who they are as a person. The answers are shown beneath each portrait.

"A nice cold can of beer"


"Our grandchildren, they are coming here any minute"

"Friends, family and plenty of money"

"Being healthy would make me happy"


"Security and my children's happiness"

"Im not paying for this am I?"

Monday, 25 April 2011

The Exhibition

Thursday, 7 April 2011


I began reading the Bang Bang Club book as I wanted to read about the history in South Africa, expecially the apartheid. This book details the lives of four photographers who covered the conflict there.

The book inspired me and got me thinking about the multicultural society that we live in, after a discussion with Richard about the various cultures in Blackburn it became apparent that this was the direction my work was going in.

I was limited with getting around due to my foot and needed somewhere that I could hobble to as I couldnt drive or walk very far and needed crutches.

I had always been intrigued by the people living on the street near me 'Beech Street' and this proved a very accessable option as it was so close to home.

The Concept

One of the Key things that defines Britain is the fact that it has the highest rate of mixed race partnerships in the world. Our Multicultural society has developed over the years and is an integral part of life in areas such as Blackburn and Burnley especially.

I live in an area where many cultures are sucessfully integrated, although it wouldnt be fair to say that we necessarily go to each others houses for tea, we speak in the street, live amongst each other with no segregation and life is quite peaceful.

I started thinking about this idea and found this article that i thought really summed up the good and the bad points in this part of our society:

I am sure there are negative things about the mix of cultures where i live but either way i think this would be interesting as Photojournalism to explore the cultures and the people that live around 'Beech Street'.

This seemed totally appropriate for an exhibition in South Africa due to their history with the apartheid, to look in more detail at how different cultures here live together. I think this would be interesting to South Africans to see this side of Britain and compare it to how they are integrated with each other. Also for my FMP this should represent the best work, this would be a major challenge for me so would represent perhaps one of the hardest things i have had to do.

I looked at this work by South African photographers and it made me think about the way they photograph people, being no different to how you or I may approach a situation. I began to consider the human condition even further and think about how regardless of our upbringing or country of origin we all have many things in common just by being human. I was surprised by the technical capabilities of the photographers and the contemporary twist on the portraits they took.

I love this image by Peter Hugo, he has made a sensitive subject almost comical. The subjects gaze is almost discomforting and its definitely no coincidence that this could be seen as a concept influenced by the apartheid.

Its almost ironic that the two adults are almost frightening in their stare and the black youngster looks scared, could this represent a feeling linked to the fact that white south africans were more powerful and often considered the enemy during the apartheid? I think there is definitely a link.

This is contemporary portraiture that shows the level of thought and consideration that goes into the work in South Africa, just as it does in the Uk or anywhere else in the world. This work touches on the multicultural concept that I am working with, and considering the history of Apartheid in South Africa this becomes even more poignant.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Local Heroes

For me as i want to work as a humanitarian photographer it makes sense for me to use the FMP to break into this field.

I have began to work for an Eating Disorder charity as part of my Individual Practice which has seen me producing a campaign for them to be used in their media and for my brief at uni.

An example of this is shown here:

I intitially wanted to expand my work with Seed/Breathe (the eating disorder charities) for my FMP but for several reasons this would have been too easy and wouldnt have fulfilled the South Africa brief very well.

One thing i have become more aware of during this brief is that the people who run these small local charities are very selfless hardworking people who have a genuine concern to eradicate the issue, with my main passion being for portraits i thought about portraits of Volunteers or organisers at a charity.

One of my initial ideas was to photograph volunteers or people who run charities, giving their time to help others


I wouldnt necessarily photograph international volunteers, but local heroes who have achieved something amazing by being selfless and giving their time to help others.

In the end I decided not to do this as it didnt seem enough for my FMP and I wanted something that i was totally passionate about.


Saturday, 26 March 2011

Videos about Cotton Slavery

I needed somewhere to post videos so decided to do this on my blog, there were quite a few videos that influenced me in my research so i have shown a few here.

After watching these videos I was obviously affected by the issues surrounding cotton picking but it wasnt until i found the video below, that I knew i had to find a way to link this into the Fashion brief.
The video isnt on You tube so i have pasted the link below as i cant upload the video.
It is quite comprehensive and covers the affects of pesticides on farmers through interviews with the farmers themselves.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Fashion Photography- Inspiration and Influences

For the Fashion brief i have produced a sketchbook containing a small amount of research appropriate to what i am doing.

I found it easier to produce a blog in addition to this to show some of the images that have inspired me.

Oliviero Toscani:

This work has had a huge impact on the Fashion brief. It made me think about the different ways to communicate a message. I think it is very clever to use images that are seemingly unrelated to the products of Bennetton. The images show various glimpses of integral parts of humanity and appeal to us as individuals rather than a group of consumers. They paint the picture that Bennetton is ethical and fair, a brand for every human being, regardless of who they are or race, colour, nationality. The images make us think and draw us in looking for answers, they may be sometimes contraversial and subject to endless complaints, but these campaigns are famous for that and have certainly got the Bennetton name out there. It would be appropriate to say here that there is no such thing as bad advertising.

Alexander Mcqueen

Mcqueen has inspired me for his radical non conformist approach to fashion. It isnt his work that inspired me as much as his attitude and what he achieved by being true to himself. His work was contraversial and slated by critics for his shocking fashion shows and reluctance to stick to the rules. In the end he sadly eneded his life. I have quite strong views about the fashion industry and i think the death of Mcqueen added to this. His story perhaps illustrates the pressure of fashion and the constant need for something new and better.

I wanted to somehow show my distaste for the industry, yet still produce images that appear to be fashion. I needed to use this brief to tell a story of the negative and much less glamorous side to fashion.


I started to look at other campaigns used by charities, for inspiration and to see how they get the message across:

I think this is quite clever but they are definitely using shock tactics to achieve the effect, this isnt unusual though for charity campaigns.

Again, this uses shock but not to get the viewers attention. The attractive naked Jamelia is used to pull in the viewer then as we look closer we see what the campaign is about.

Another fairly shocking image to draw the viewer in to read the information about domestic abuse.

These images got me thinking about how much work goes into an image like this before it is produced into a campaign. Everything must be considered in great detail to make sure it conveys the message with maximum impact.

Another photographer who works in this field is Oliviero Toscani, his anorexia campaign caught my eye when I was researching for the fashion brief. His photographs are very simple but given the models heavily emaciated body, there isnt much need for anything else, she says it all.

It isnt just the Anorexia work that interests me of Toscani's. I find his Benneton work quite inspiring for the way that he produced advertising campaigns and did this by pointing out glimpses of humanity. His work makes the viewer ask questions and ultimately drags us in as we try to work out what the hidden message is. This is certainly one way to get people to notice campaigns and it created the sense that Benetton were reaching out to the individual rather than the masses. It said that they were for everyone human, regardless of race, colour, caste or nationality. The campaigns are innovative in the way that they dont show the clothes which is the reason for the campain, but point out a bigger issue or vision of something that makes us human.

I had a clear idea of what I wanted to achieve and knew that I would photograph people who had been affected by eating disorders, but I needed to research different lighting techniques. I wanted to portray a sense of drama and discomfort so I began researching dramatic lighting setups, here are some of the images that I looked at for their lighting:

Andrzej Dragan is a Polish photographer. Dramatic lighting and post production techniques give his personal portraits an animation. I love this lighting for documentary style images but i dont think its appropriate for this brief.

This lighitng would be effective, i think it would seem appropriate to have areas of extreme shadow to hide parts of the models body as this would work with the concept of people with eating disorders.

Here is another lighting setup with an image of the actual setup below it, I think this would be an interesting setup to try.