May 24, 2019

I have just experienced the most remarkable evening of photographers discussing their work. A new initiative called the Photojournalism Hub brought together Rob Pinney, Giovanna del Sarto, Tavis Bohlinger and James Hopkirk to tell the stories of their work. They each well met the ambition of the evening to expose and engage pressing social justice issues through committed and courageous photojournalism.

Refugees' experiences connects the work of Rob Pinney and Giovanna del Sarto but each of their approaches are distinctive. Pinney's searingly honest description of his initial emotions at The Jungle in Calais and the evolution of his work as he became more familiar with the people - camp refugees and town residents - and their codes of behaviour was fascinating. Del Sarto's work explores the power dynamic between photographer and subject, turning it around in her Polaroid for a Refugee project. Recognising the significance of family photographs in the journey into the unknown, the act of taking - then giving back - an image with the commitment to follow its path is incredibly powerful.

The next story took us inside a very personal reflection by a father on his son's journey with autism and epilepsy. Tavis Bohlinger's The Epileptic felt like a real time commentary on his emotional struggle in dealing with what was happening to his son by having the presence of mind - such an apt phrase - to make a photographic record of his interactions with health carers. Using them to interpret the impact on his son of this process was both harrowing and insightful and, as someone with family impacted in the same way, thought-provoking.

The final story was another dimension to the refugee journey, that terrible period of uncertainty once arrived of being granted permission to remain. The Blood of a Woman by James Hopkirk is far more than a documentary project. His involvement with the issues raised by following the story of Mirela cross the traditional boundaries of the objective photojournalist but for me represent a far more humanist approach than the questionable practices of some contemporary photographers. Do spend time with each of these stories. They are all inspirational.

Sean McDonnell

I've been pursuing a style of photography now called street for a number of years. A south Londoner by birth I am pre-occupied with the West End and spend too much time there taking black and white pictures on film. I nurture a hope that one day London will be recognised like Paris, New York and Tokyo as a great city of street photography but secretly like the fact that it is still the underdog. For someone who enjoys the solitary practice of his work I am surprisingly talkative about it - although not at the same time. Here's a collection of idle musings and distracting links.

These posts are a sample of my current blog PORTRAIT OF A STREET PHOTOGRAPHER. There are 10 years of posts so please visit!

Portrait of a Street Photographer archive

link to Portrait of a Street Photographer blog
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