The overwhelming sense of being surrounded by people yet feeling alone among them is a well documented facet of city life. And even if you are among the 46 percent of the world’s population living in a rural environment, you’ll be familiar with the emblematic image of urban disconnection in which tower blocks loom over bustling streets filled with scurrying figures. But what happens when the day is over and each individual retreats into their home for a moment of calm after the storm? London-based photographer Aristotle Roufanis is fascinated by this experience of collective solitude. Trained as a civil engineer, he has an affinity for the urban structures that characterise major cities all over the world.
“If you’ve been to Morocco I think you’ll understand that we’re a very colourful country, a colourful people. We see every colour being worn. In Morocco that there is the clash of colours and an attitude not to be scared of colours,” says Hassan Hajjaj. His latest exhibition, La Caravane, is about to launch at Somerset House, the first display for the British-Moroccan photographer in London in seven years. His work reflects on identity and culture, which has featured as a big part of his life and work since moving to the UK from a small port town in Morocco aged just 13.
“The exhibition just becomes this transition point. There will be new artwork created by the exhibition. I think that’s exciting: it means it becomes alive. These often tragic stories will continue living in other forms, whether through painting or through music, so it’s about making the exhibition a place of life and a celebration of that life,” says Giles Duley, the photographer who has spent months travelling Europe and the Middle East to document the refugee crisis with UNHCR. Taking images from his photobook, I Can Only Tell You What I See, the display will feature artists in residence, a soundscape from Massive Attack and will host an evening supper so as visitors can sit and discuss the work and the wider problems surrounding the refugee crisis.
“I believe that the great strength photography has, and in particular documentary photography, is content. So much of what is published today, seems to me to be content less. I hope my photography illuminates and resonates with viewers and tells how British society was. And, of my more recent work, of how society is,” says Homer Sykes. he has been photographing British society for five decades, including major social and political events, such as The Battle of Lewisham. Now, some of his work is set to be featured in a Burberry show this month.
“Music is a language for all humans; it gets under your skin and brings out and expresses strong emotions,” says Emily Stein, whose latest commission took her to a primary school in North London, where she photographed young children for Stella McCartney’s Kid’s fashion range
“This portrait does not simply show a man who earns a living as a tattoo artist but the reason why that living is so important to him – his family,” says Jamain Gordon, reflecting on the portrait of Ricardo and his daughter outside their home and tattoo parlour in the South American country of Guyana. “It was Ricardo who wanted to have his daughter in the photograph and the warmth of their relationship can clearly be seen.” The image is now featured in a photobook, One People, One Nation, One Destiny, which shows the traditions and culture of this small but proud country.
Portrait of Britain returns for a second year with 100 more images that encapsulate life the length and breadth of the UK. From almost 8,000 entries this year, the final hundred will now be displayed in a digital exhibition across JCDecaux screens in shopping centres and commuter hubs around the country throughout September. In partnership with Nikon, the photography giant, Portrait of Britain aims to show the social and cultural diversity of people in the UK and showcase everyday citizens and unsung heroes in a gallery of the people, by the people, for the people. Simon Bainbridge, Editorial Director at the British Journal of Photography, was excited about the latest portraits for 2017, saying, “Collectively, the portraits celebrate the unique heritage and diversity of modern Britain, as much as its thriving photography culture and the myriad styles and approaches they employ in their work.”
“Breaking onto a dance floor with a large format camera and a portable photography studio, as in my case, paralyses everything that happens,” says Jesús Madriñán, a Spanish photographer whose nightlife photos document the 21st century youth in different communities across the world. He is looking for an unique authenticity from his participants: “For me that’s really interesting: it gives them the opportunity to express themselves in front of the camera and in front of the eyes of the others.”
“Individually these photos represent the moment that we crossed paths, but collectively they represent my portrait of London – a confident city, a city of the future, a city I call home,” says Niall McDiarmid, who has been shooting portraits on the streets of Britain’s capital for the last six years.
Five years ago David Gaberle went through “a really rough time” after moving to London. A friend suggested he pick up a camera to help process his experience, and he found that photography “really eases the experience of the sensory overload that comes with living in a big city”. By 2015 he was ready to embark on an ambitious new project inspired by this work, and invested all his savings in travelling to the world’s biggest cities to shoot them. On the move for eight months and changing location every few weeks, he covered over 3600km. “The constant search was the happiest time of my life,” he says. Originally from the Czech Republic, Gaberle studied anthropology back home and has a researcher’s perspective on the modern metropolis. “In the big cities, people spend less time with other people which means they have more time to become different, developing themselves,” he says. “There are more interesting personalities in the cities.” At the same time, though, he finds big cities can be “really dehumanising”, because “they have an effect on how …