Photo Stories 15 Contemporary Documentaries
This paper showcases fifteen documentary photographers and their projects surrounding different issues that are prevalent in the current 21st century climate. With bodies of work focusing on topics such as loneliness, mental health, the environment, politics and diverse communities amongst other subjects, each photographer engages and develops in-depth insights in to people and place. Throughout each individual project, the importance of narrative is paramount to engaging with Photo Stories. No one story is more important than another. These stories were made to generate discussion whilst encouraging an open mind to the world around us. Each photographer has taken a personal interest in the subject of their project and allowed us an insight into the unique narratives being told. Documentary photography looks at the aspects of the world around us and focuses on the everyday events that are taking place, even in our homes. This reportage style creates links to everyday life that is often relatable. We hope that in viewing this paper, it allows for moments to reflect whilst initiating feelings of nostalgia and empathy amongst other emotions. Each image has been carefully chosen to consider multiple perspectives and bring us the full story, whilst being thoughtprovoking in a way that engages with people.
Edited by Thomas Dryden Kelsey Designed and Edited by Abi Roberts, Ffyona Speed, Anja Jackson and Jamie Schofield
Contents Spiritual Spaces
For Ours You See, Was Welsh Steam Coal
Life After Death Megan Emmerson
Over The Water Ben Milne
The Unknown Fifty
A Rock And A Hard Place
A Dying Art Danielle Pettitt
What Lies Beneath The Working Landscape
Faces of Feminism
Spiritual Spaces Gweniver Exton
These four portraits are taken from the project ‘Spiritual Spaces’ which explores a community of people who practice alternative spiritual beliefs. What resonates so strongly from the work is that each subject’s spiritual beliefs cannot fit into a box, nor be restricted by specific dogma. Each individual has a different path, taking the elements that they connect with creating their own way. Connection to the Earth and the landscape forms a major part of many of their beliefs – this appreciation of nature going beyond a human plain towards the spiritual. Gweniver documents the specific environments that the featured individuals feel connected to outside the known parameters of the human condition. Whether this is their home, studio or within the natural landscape ‘Spiritual Spaces’ explores the visual notion of this other worldliness that some choose to identify in. By photographing her subjects in their specific environments and pairing them with landscapes, it conveys how (unlike organised religion) all of these places and spaces can be seen as spiritual or sacred.
What Lies Beneath The Working Landscape Ffyona Speed
The Cotswold Water Park is the result of two Ice Ages, 65 million years of geology and the man-made act of gravel extraction. The movement of sand and gravel as a result of the natural processes on the movement of the land meant the area was deposited with huge amounts of aggregates. In the 1920s, gravel extraction began to take place, leaving the area scarred with hollows and pits. These hollows naturally filled with water and became freshwater lakes, resulting in the creation of over one hundred and forty of them. These are the lakes we see all around the Cotswold Water Park today. The area is naturally prone to flooding, with many of the lakes overflowing when heavy rainfall is experienced which also results in a lot of mud. However, this makes it a great home for large numbers of waterfowl and other types of wildlife which are carefully managed within this environment. Today, gravel extraction is still taking place on the sites and can be seen in the machinery and other man-made objects left behind, but the area is managed as a working landscape. The Cotswold Trust helps to look after the land and conserve it, with some of the areas being deemed Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Across the landscape it is clear to see how it remains a working landscape, and how human impact has lead it to become the landscape we see before us today. There are numerous ways the landscape has adapted to evolve to these changes, including the types of plant and animals that can inhabit the area as well as how the area constantly has to recover over time. Human management also helps to ensure the landscape is looked after through initiatives such as pollarding and bank reinforcement. The area is naturally beautiful and although the presence of gravel extraction teams are still there, the wildlife and the land itself still thrives and can be enjoyed mostly all year round. All kinds of activities can take place around the lakes and on them, making use of the events that created them in the first place.
N17 Thema Holland
Lorna Claire Sheppard was born in 1938 in Kingston, Jamaica. She lived with her family until the age of 21, when she moved to the United Kingdom in 1959 to pursue an education in nursing. During her career, Lorna met Maurice Holland, later marrying in 1986 and starting a family together in London. As Lorna and Maurice were first generation immigrants from Jamaica, they had to learn to adapt to the UK and embrace the different cultures, all while dealing with being away from their family and friends. This project explores the life of Jamaican immigrants, who looked to create a better life for themselves and widen opportunities for their family by moving to the UK in the 1950â€™s. The work captures the story behind the mother of the family, Lorna Holland, and her day-to-day life. As this project focuses on a more personal aspect of her life, Thema aimed to capture her past and present, by looking into archival photographs of when she lived in Jamaica to convey a wider narrative and explore her life before England. The intention was to portray traditional documentary style photographs that captured the everyday lives and the dynamic of their marriage, as well as the relationships with their grandchildren. As these are the photographerâ€™s grandparents, she wanted to create a series of photographs they can look back on, as the work documents their immigration from Jamaica and their personal thoughts and feelings at the time. Being the first generation to move from Jamaica, the documentations of their journey is personal to the family and the people around them as many aspects of their journey had not been discussed for many years.
Club Kids Alex Tomlinson
Alex accidently fell into the middle of the club kid scene when he went on a night out with some of his friends in London. On these nights he was really blown away with the amount of effort that all these people were going through to stand out and look their best, but was also disappointed at the fact that nobody was celebrating this. He was looking around whilst at these nights and realised that the only photos and videos that people were taking were on their phones, on Instagram and Snapchat stories, so the nights were being documented but on something that was only temporary. He wanted to take them in a physical way that will stand the test of time and something that people can look back on. Capturing these moments on film was the best way to do this, as there is an instant, tangible copy that will stand the test of time. In this awful time for politics, there has been a resurge in the club kid scene as the creative youth look for ways to express themselves and rebel against the social norms, as a big f*** you to their uncertain future.
Another Day Isabel Chapman
This project ‘Another Day’ is a portrait of an older couple, following their day to day routine, giving an inside perspective of how they live and interact with one another. Phoebe is the dominant figure within this project with Eric being dependant on her. ‘Another Day’ explores how aging affects human relationships. Phoebe’s main connection to the outside world is through the phone, talking to family and friends. She only leaves the house when she has to as she can not leave Eric alone for long. She leaves before dawn catching the earliest bus she can into town, so she is able to do the weekly shop, and collect their pensions, all before Eric has even woken up. Eric use to live a very active lifestyle, which left Phoebe in the background. However, since his retirement, his health has dramatically declined leaving Phoebe to change her life to revolve around caring for him. ‘Another Day’ centres around the theme of ageing and loneliness, and how merely companionship is not always a two-way street. The dynamic of the relationship between these two human beings has drastically changed since the beginning of their relationship - could their lives have been different? Could they have made different life choices ultimately altering their life path? However, this is how they live now.
For my Grandparents
A Rock and A Hard Place Jordan Turnbull
A Rock and Hard Place was created during a six day trip to the rock of Gibraltar exploring the ‘unique multi-cultural society’ thriving in such a densely populated area. The name is derived from both literal and metaphorical observation: the physical dominant rock becomes contrasted against a possibly harder ‘Brexit’. The inhabitants, once again are thrown into a situation where Gibraltar becomes a whipping boy for exerting pressure to any arrangement. Brexit is redefining relationships and nowhere is it more noticeable than in Gibraltar. The people are living in a dreamlike state of uncertainty with no assurances of a sustainable relationship with Spain, continuing with added stronger opposition to a repeat of a closed border between 1969-1985. The inhabitants, dubious of what could be, are presented with reflective observation, frustrated and estranged from their own sense of British identity that they have fought strongly for, and now have to fight for once again as a result of following the United Kingdom in this tumultuous time. These times will surely tell how British Gibraltar is and how British it will stay.
The Unknown Fifty
This piece of work explores the constructs of how we view strangers. Preconceptions limit our ability to see what ‘reality’ is, which can lead to making incorrect presumptions about people and perpetuate damaging stereotypes. We are taught to have respect for people, yet, if we walk into an area and have preconceptions about it, or do not have respect for the people we are interacting with, we then ruin the concept of improvement. We need to strive to be open to everyone we meet, and approach them as a student ready to learn, rather than being ready to criticise or find fault. Most of us like to think that we judge character fairly, but we are constantly passing judgment on other people without even knowing it. Each person that was photographed offered an interesting fact about himself or herself to challenge people’s preconceptions of him or her. These statements create one identity, and the portraits create another, but they are not matched up. It is left for the individual viewer to make that connection. It encourages people to question any presumptions they may have formed from looking at these portraits. It is a work that questions how text and image interact, how people are represented through photography and the stereotypes that we carry within us.
Jeremy Anja Jackson
Known to friends and family as Jez, Jeremy Simpson has suffered from severe depression since adolescence. Though he did not fully realise it at the time, the mental health condition he was suffering from would plague him into adulthood. After a series of setbacks including redundancy and financial difficulties, he was tragically hit by a bus whilst crossing a road in Bristol 7 years ago. He was initially treated very badly by the staff at the hospital who presumed he was just a drunk, but it was later discovered that the reason he was slurring his words and struggling to stand upright because he had become severely brain damaged. In the years since then, his speech has improved a lot and he has re-learnt to walk with the aid of sticks, though he still struggles both physically and mentally to travel very far from the safety of his flat. Jeremy believes that working out which problems are due to the depression and which are due to the brain injury is key in starting to overcome them. He now lives in Bath, a place where he feels much safer and that reminds him of the happier times he had when living there as a student. Before the accident he enjoyed painting and drawing and now his flat is decorated with pieces he created to remind him of what he can be capable of. He still draws occasionally and hopes to one day produce work to a similar standard. As someone who once had a high paid, well-respected job, not being physically or mentally able to work has been tough on Jeremy. Though he will never be able to work again, he has been given the opportunity to volunteer as a trustee at Mind, the mental health charity. Through this he hopes to raise awareness of mental health issues in young people and encourage schools and universities to offer more support to those struggling.
Feminism Jamie Schofield
This project aims to document feminism in Russia, and depicts feminists in their own selected environment, with their views and experiences of feminism and Russia shared. Feminism in Russia is slightly different to feminism in the West, because it is rarely talked about and is still a relatively ‘new’ concept for modern day Russia. During the Soviet Union, women had equal and similar jobs to men and were also supposedly more ‘equal’ than they are now. They worked in factories and had relatively physical jobs, whereas now they are expected to be housewives and uphold their appearances. This project shows a different range of ages and a different range of how strongly they fight for equal rights; some of the women only have thoughts they want to share on feminism, whereas some classed themselves as radical feminists. Many of the radical feminists share their thoughts through art and documentary videos, whereas some of the non-radical feminists will do things such as attend and host festivals. “Feminism doesn’t exist here.”, “We don’t need feminism.” and “I am not a feminist” were words that were spoken often during this project. Highlighting the importance of the word ‘feminist’ and what it really means and stands for. Feminism in Russia is not widely spread due to the fact that the words ‘feminist’ and ‘feminism’ now come side by side with derogatory stereotypes. There are also no translations from English for important factors of feminism such as ‘slut shaming’ and the gender pay gap, and because of the lack of support and translation from the West, it is hard for the people of Russia to understand the fact that inequality and sexism exist in their country. The idea of this project is to spread awareness of feminism in Russia and to highlight that it is real, and it is supported, despite the ongoing stereotypes.
For Ours You
See, Was Welsh Steam Coal Adam Elliott
Situated deep within the Valleys of South Wales, ‘For Ours You See, Was Welsh Steam Coal’ is a visual exploration of how communities have been shaped by the coal-mine industry and its demise. The project was shot in the county of Blaenau Gwent, a once booming mining region located in the midst of the formerly prosperous South Wales Coalfields. In 2013, a study showed that one in six adults in the county were being prescribed anti-depressants; the highest rate in the UK. “The long rows of terraced houses which run almost unbroken for twenty miles along the hillsides of the South Wales valleys are there for only one reason: the demands of an industry in what was once the most famous coal-mining area in the world.” 1 The majority of this work was made in Blaina - a small, friendly community in Blaenau Gwent that has been failed by the industry that once made it so prosperous. This project aimed to explore the fragility of such communities like those in the valleys – a photographic study of how towns like these form new relationships with a society that now, is no longer recognisable as the one in which they grew up.
Patrick Hannan, introduction to Wales: Land of my Father, by David Hurn (London: Thames and Hudson, 2000).
A Dying Art Danielle Pettitt
This project explores the traditional heritage crafts that have become important to our English culture. These practises have been around for centuries and can be traced through history altering very little in how we make them. However, these crafts are now in danger of dying out. With modern day technology constantly improving and machines becoming more prominent and effective, traditional methods of manufacturing are becoming increasingly rare. The aim of this project is to highlight and educate people on the crafts that are currently at risk of vanishing, because once they are gone, they are gone forever. In 2003 UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) adopted a convention for safeguarding traditional craftsmanship. It stated: “Any efforts to safeguard traditional craftsmanship must focus not on preserving craft objects – no matter how beautiful, precious, rare or important they might be – but on creating conditions that will encourage artisans to continue to produce crafts of all kinds, and to transmit their skills and knowledge to others.” 1 In total 171 countries, including places like Albania, Zambia and Zimbabwe all signed up to the convention, which has made Intangible Cultural Heritage part of their cultural policy. However, the UK did not sign this act and so we are still at risk of potentially losing traditional crafts. Currently there is a Heritage Craft Association which works to promote heritage crafts that are slowly declining; they are an advocate for traditional heritage crafts. Yet, what they need is for people across the UK to be educated and share their passion in ensuring they do not lose the traditions that define our culture. This project hopes to promote craftsmen throughout the country, highlighting what is that they do and why we need to make an effort to preserve their trades.
Heritage Crafts Association (2018) Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Over The Water Ben Milne
These photographs are a comparative study of certain aspects of life that are not only culturally separated but also physically. The River Mersey provides a natural border between the City of Liverpool and Birkenhead. One kilometre of separation but a polarising difference in ways of living on both water fronts. Liverpool and Birkenhead shared a similar industrious past, utilising its geographic position as a lever for trade. The present state of the two waterfronts is different. Liverpool’s waterfront stood in near enough unison with Birkenhead until Liverpool was awarded “Capital of Culture” in 2008. The award is organised and gifted by the European Union. The accolade aided the city in hosting numerous cultural events with a grant of £130 million in order to attract visitors and investors to the city. The award has re-launched Liverpool as a creative and cultural hub of North West England. In 2008 The Capital of Culture attracted 9.7 million additional visits to Liverpool, constituting 35% of all visits to the city. As the years go on the visitor statistics have increased and in 2017 the city had 62 million visitors with a visitor economy now worth £4.3 billion. As Liverpool continues to grow, the signs of that are obvious. Wealth appears in all its traits, while Birkenhead has had little change or boost to its economy. Liverpool sits in full view from Birkenhead’s waterfront, aligned with new buildings and re-appropriated docklands and warehouses, it shines like a beacon of hope, to those who gaze over the water. Perhaps it will always appear like a sports car pinned above your desk, a symbol of what might be, but with subtle realisation that it may never be. However, the photographs in the book are not there to shame and argue for one place over another. They sit within a spectrum of cultural observation and question the distribution of wealth over a short distance. Two places of geographic unity now only share similarities through the humanity of place. The matter of living on either side of the water remains homogenous in their literal forms but disenfranchised by circumstances concerning income and opportunity.
Life After Death
In the summer of 2009, Cameron was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. He was just 13 years old. “I was embarrassed. I felt completely isolated from everyone else. I saw it as a label rather than an illness, I thought that only fat people got diabetes and people would think that was me. I was insecure and paranoid about what people would say about me” he says. Over the years, Cameron acted out as a way of releasing this angst towards his illness, being expelled from 2 secondary schools and a boarding school before he had reached the age of 15. This turbulent time has not only affected Cameron and his life style put also created a wedge between him and his family. In November 2015, Cameron was admitted to hospital after falling extremely ill at his home in Wiltshire. Within moments of arriving at the hospital, a frail and pale Cameron went into diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) as a result of not taking his insulin for over a month. Hospital admission and treatment is essential to correct the lifethreatening acidosis. “They took him straight to resus, where he was on machines for the next 7 and a half hours. He had all these tubes coming out of him” Carol, Cameron’s mother recalls. “I said ‘Is he going to be okay?’ and the doctor replied ‘I don’t know’. I was watching my son die in front of me. His body was shutting down”. There are more than 3 million people living with diabetes in the United Kingdom alone, according to the NHS, that’s more than 1 in 16 people. This figure has trebled in the past 10 years, it is now estimated that by the year 2025 there will be 5 million people diagnosed with the illness. Luckily for Cameron, he was able to be treated and discharged from hospital a few days later. He is working hard to manage his diabetes better and live life, but a large percentage of diabetics are undiagnosed.
Girlhood Abi Roberts
Around two-years-old, children become conscious of the physical differences between genders. Before their third birthday, most children are easily able to label themselves. By age four, most children have a stable sense of their gender identity. During this same time of life, children learn gender role behavior; ‘things that boys do’ or ‘things that girls do.’ Children live in a world that has been created by adults, and they look to grown ups for cues on how to behave and who to be. The media is saturated with the same message; women are valued for their looks and defined by their appearance, unlike their male counterparts. This is portrayed as an issue that wholly effects teenage girls and women, although more than a third of 7 to 10 year old girls agreed that women were rated more on their appearance than their abilities, and 36% said they were made to feel their looks were their most important attribute. The individuality of young girls is often overlooked by society. They are put into a stereotyped box and their thoughts/opinions are ignored, with girls as young as seven feeling they cannot say or do what they want because of gender stereotyping. Young girls are forced to find their place in the world from the moment they start school, because they are suddenly aware that they are a part of a larger group and they need to figure out where they fit in. They become caught between wanting to conform, while also wanting to stand out as an individual. It seems as though this challenging of norms is starting younger, and with the rise of gender equality over the past couple decades, parents have made a move towards raising their girls to not be hindered by the traditional gender roles of previous generations. Girls are able to experiment with their identities more than ever before. This piece of work is an exploration into the social construction of girlhood, by documenting the vibrant personalities of four girls through a small glimpse into their daily life.
Soul Mate Charlotte Colenutt
Sex trafficking is a lucrative industry making an estimated £99 billion a year; 20.9 million adults and children are bought and sold worldwide into commercial sexual servitude, forced labour and bonded labour. In India, children from poor and rural communities, especially those with emotional, physical and learning difficulties, are particularly vulnerable to domestic and inter-country trafficking. They are often kidnapped or bought from their families to be sold to brothels or forced labour. “Soul Mate” documents the non governmental organisation Odanadi, in India. They address all forms of sexual violence against women and children, with a special focus on human trafficking. Odanadi have adopted a holistic approach to combat sexual violence through prevention, rescue, rehabilitation, awareness and training programmes. Their focus is to raise awareness and change the mind set of men towards gender equality, through training, educating and sensitising the entire community. The founders of Odanadi, Stanly K.V and Parashuram, have been involved in the rescue of 4,200 women and children from traffickers. Some rescue projects have included nine girls being rescued from a brothel projecting themselves as a hotel. The girls were hidden in a secret room that was behind a bathroom wall. Another successful rescue project included three girls being rescued from a secret room in a drainage culvert - one girl was sadly dead, the accused men were successfully arrested.
Please check your pages and text. Any suggestions for the introductory text please send to Ffyona or Abi. Anything else let us know please....
Published on May 17, 2018
Please check your pages and text. Any suggestions for the introductory text please send to Ffyona or Abi. Anything else let us know please....