All posts filed under: Documentary

Lina, in her bedroom she shares wih her two sisters. From the series My Favourite Colour Was Yellow © Kirsty MacKay

Photobook: My Favourite Colour Was Yellow by Kirsty MacKay

Kirsty MacKay has two daughters, one ten and one two; when her oldest was a baby she didn’t buy much pink, she says, but “kind of accumulated it anyway”. “We had so many pink clothes I could do a separate pink wash,” she says. “Although as a parent I didn’t like it. “I grew up in the 1970s wearing boiler suits and dungarees and playing with Meccano and Lego,” she adds. “So what I couldn’t understand was how we could have gone back when feminism has moved so much.” Intrigued by the power of this cultural norm she decided to start photographing it, starting with her friends and friends’ children in Bristol, then widening the scope to include strangers and those based elsewhere in Britain. She ended up shooting for six years, amassing over 3000 images. “I took a lot of photographs, but I ended up not using very many from the start,” she says. “They just weren’t good enough, because I was uncomfortable with the idea I was going into someone’s house and potentially criticising their …

2017-03-08T14:46:25+00:00

From the series The Pierhead © Tom Wood

Exhibition: Tom Wood’s The Pierhead, 1978-2002

As a young man in the late 1970s and 80s, Tom Wood regularly found himself among the crowds waiting for the ferry at Liverpool’s Pier Head. Commuters weary after a long day’s toil, elderly couples gazing out at the Mersey in comfortable silence, teenage girls sporting shell suits, hair swept into side ponytails. “There were always loads of people at the Pier Head because it’s a terminus for the whole of Merseyside,” Wood says. “Coming home I’d find I’d just missed a ferry. You’ve got at least 20 minutes to wait for the next one so what do you do? You take pictures.” Now some 70 of Wood’s photographs of the Pier Head, shot between 1978-2002 and never previously exhibited, have gone on display at the Centre Photographique at Le Pôle Image Haute-Normandie as The Pierhead – L’Embarcadere, 1978-2002, part of a mini season of shows. Previous exhibitions by Stephen Gill, Michael Wolf and Eamonn Doyle also focused on very small geographical areas – the latter just two streets, explains the exhibition’s curator, Raphaëlle Stopin. “I was interested in …

2017-03-07T16:40:38+00:00

Patient Care Bay (Bigfoot dewar being filled with liquid nitrogen), Alcor Life Extension Foundation, Scottsdale, Arizona, USA. October 2006. From The Prospect of Immortality © Murray Ballard

Murray Ballard shoots cryonics in The Prospect of Immortality

BJP

As debut projects go, Murray Ballard could scarcely have chosen a more intriguing subject than cryonics. The practice of preserving dead bodies at very low temperatures, in the hope of bringing them back to life far in the future, is commonly thought to exist only in science fiction, where it is generally known by its technically inaccurate name of “cryogenic freezing”. Yet as Ballard (no relation to his namesake, the sci-fi author JG) discovered during his five- year investigation, hundreds of people around the world have already invested in what he has calls “The Prospect of Immortality”. The 27-year-old began documenting cryonicists while studying photography at the University of Brighton, after he discovered there was a group of British believers based just along the Sussex coast in Peacehaven. He was soon making much longer excursions, his work taking him to the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Arizona three times, the rival Cryonics Institute in Michigan twice, and the burgeoning Kriorus facility just outside Moscow on a further two occasions. Having worked as an assistant to Magnum photographer …

2017-03-07T11:11:03+00:00

From the book Dalston in the 80s © Andrew Holligan

Q&A: Andrew Holligan on his new book, Dalston in the 80s

Now known as a hip place to be, Dalston was then a cheap place to live ill-served by public transport. While living in the neighbourhood, Andrew Holligan shot the people he came across with a 1950s Rolleiflex, creating an archive of images which has now been published as a book. BJP: Why did you move to Dalston? AH: I moved there because a friend had offered me his flat while he was away. A lot of friends were moving to East London in the 80s because it was cheaper than elsewhere in central London. There were also a lot of empty commercial/light industrial buildings available for studios. I then spent a year in Australia, then moved back into a live/work space near London Fields, Hackney. BJP: Had you known anything about it before? AH: I had never been to Dalston before and knew nothing about the place, even though I had spent some of my childhood in Islington. I had been living in New York City for three years prior to moving to Dalston. BJP: Were you …

2017-03-06T15:21:00+00:00

Garage, 1975 © John Myers.

The World is Not Beautiful – But It’s There, by John Myers

“I believe photographers have got to come to terms with the world we live in, not the world journalists like, which is spectacular and exciting and makes good copy,” says John Myers. “Photographers and sub editors and journalists, all kinds of journalist want a story. They want to sell papers, and what sells is something unusual. ‘Man with three legs marries 86 year old widow’, it makes a terrific headline. They’re not so interested in what’s going on down the road at number 83.” With photographs of garages, TVs, electricity substations, new builds and his neighbours, Myers’ images of urban life bear him out. Shot within walking distance of his house in Stourbridge between 1973-1981, his archive was part-funded by an Arts Council award, when he was an emerging photographer who’d also just shown at the Serpentine Gallery. But then it lay almost forgotten for 30 years – until Pete James, then-curator of photographs at the Library of Birmingham, came across it, and helped get Myers solo exhibitions at the Ikon Gallery in 2011, and the …

2017-03-02T16:05:28+00:00

A dog walks on a rooftop near Süleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul, March 2015. From the series November is a beginning © Esa Ylijaasko

November is a beginning for Esa Ylijaasko

“Photographers have a responsibility to tell these stories,” says Esa Ylijaasko of his project, November is a beginning, which shows a community of Syrian refugees living in Istanbul. Forced out by the civil war some 2.9 million Syrians have fled to Turkey, of whom about 800,000 have settled in the capital city, many in the formerly abandoned Süleymaniye neighbourhood. Knowing little Turkish and lacking the right documentation, they are left in a kind of limbo – unable to work legally, they rely on their meagre savings, cash-in-hand jobs and charity. “If they’re are caught by the police, they are sent to refugee camps,” explains Ylijaasko. “But as illegal workers, they earn below the minimum wage – around $250 to $300 USD monthly, which is just enough to cover their living expenses. Kind-hearted locals bring food and clothes, helping them to survive. But life stands still.” Originally from Finland, Ylijaasko started shooting the series back in 2013, after moving to Istanbul and hearing about the community. “I decided I’d try at least,” he says. “More people can help …

2017-03-02T15:32:59+00:00

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Alnis Stakle’s Theory of R shows Riga’s dark underbelly

When Alnis Stakle first took up photography, he was faced with a rigid conception of what it could and couldn’t be. In Latvia in the 1990s, photography was largely considered a commercial craft, he says, with any more artistic ambitions restricted to banal nudes and sunsets. But for Stakle, photography is “a kind of religion” that has the power to change our relationship to the world. “Photography is a wonderful medium that makes me look at mundane things and events from another perspective, and enables me to grasp the essential in the meaningless,” he explains. Most of his work is driven by the desire to record his surroundings in a deeply personal way, and his new project – Theory of R – marks an important transition in his life. Moving to Latvia’s capital, Riga, in 2011, he found the global economic crisis was creating a grim urban environment beneath the “shiny veneer” of the city’s tourist attractions. “Half of the people of Latvia reside in Riga, and individuals who suffer from poverty and social exclusion are by no means an unusual …

2017-03-01T12:25:13+00:00

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Guy Martin shoots The Parallel State in Turkey

On 20 April 2011, Guy Martin was seriously injured in a mortar attack while covering the conflict in Libya. Two fellow photographers, Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros, were killed, and it was a year before Martin could walk again. It was another six months before he wanted to take pictures again. By the end of 2012 he had moved to Istanbul to start a new photographic project but his experience had fundamentally changed him. Until then enjoying a burgeoning career in photojournalism, shooting conflict in Egypt, Libya, Ramallah and Georgia for The Wall Street Journal, Time, The Guardian, The Sunday Times, Der Speigel and many more, he decided to take a step back. “To not learn from that event in April 2011, I couldn’t do that to myself,” he says. “I couldn’t justify it to my family, I couldn’t be put in that same situation again. The starting point was to take control of my photography, to use my photography instead of letting it use me. “I come back to this thought again and again – until …

2017-03-01T11:19:29+00:00

From the series Farang © Francesco Merlini

Ones to Watch: Francesco Merlini

BJP

“I was 13, standing on the balcony at home holding the first digital camera my family had ever owned. I was staring into the viewfinder trying to frame a flower, my eyes wide at its reproduction on the small screen,” says 30-year-old Francesco Merlini of the first picture he ever took. “I was struck by the immediacy of the photographic medium, the ease with which you can create something visually pleasing.” Merlini studied industrial design at Politecnico di Milano, and though photography featured in his life from an early age, he never considered dedicating himself to it. Like many of his generation, he used his camera for little more than documenting his life – his mates, girlfriends, trips. “Some photos worked but there was no meaning behind them, there was no purpose,” he says. “They were snaps. “The turning point came in 2010 when I started working at Prospekt [the agency of which he is now a member] as a photo editor and sales manager. I started doing scans and photographing events, developing my own …

2017-02-27T15:02:00+00:00

From the series Bright Days © Maryam Khastoo & Jonathan Clifford

A different side of Iran by Maryam Khastoo and Jonathan Clifford

In October 2016, Maryam Khastoo and Jonathan Clifford went to Iran to work on Khastoo’s ongoing project on her mother. Born to Iranian parents in Wales, Khastoo has visited the country regularly since she was a child, and lived there from 2010-2014; her mother now lives in Tehran, and Khastoo and Clifford spent ten days with her, Khastoo taking photographs and Clifford shooting film. After they’d finished work in the capital they “felt the need to get out” says Clifford, who was raised in Australia, and headed north for the quiet towns between the Caspian Sea and Alborz Mountain range. “Everyone we spoke of our plans with insisted that we go south to Isfahan, Shiraz or Yazd, which are the most common destinations for visitors to Iran due to their historical importance,” says Clifford. “But although these places certainly appealed, the idea of heading north, where Maryam has family, and staying with them on their orange and kiwi orchard, seemed a much better way to unwind after the hustle and chaos of Tehran. “We’d also discussed …

2017-02-23T16:35:48+00:00

BJP Staff