University: London College of Communication
Statement: I work as a photographer and journalist. For the last two years I have been photographing two long term projects in Oldham, North England. One about social and poverty issues in the town and one about the community around Oldham Athletic – the local football team. The second project, which has recently been published as a book – Oh When The Blues, focused on the the supporters and many characters who go to watch their struggling team play at home and all over the country whilst exploring their identity within the town and club.
What university did you attend and when did you graduate? I studied BA Photojournalism at London College of Communication and graduated in 2013.
What is your favourite photobook by another photographer? Hard choice, but has to be Satellites by Jonas Bendiksen.
Direction: Oh When The Blues was never intended to be so long term, or even a book. I envisioned I would attend five or so games, make pictures and a few interviews and get an online editorial publication. However, I just kept meeting people, who soon became my friends, and my images and myself gradually got more involved. Eventually I was a part of the furniture which allowed me to photograph however I pleased. I was invited to travel to all games with the fans and even went on a football holiday to Berlin. The project very much became about me and the communities experience of on Oldham Athletic day out. The project would not of been possible without the support of the fans who have given me very personal interviews, invited me round their homes, given me lifts and actually allowed me to photograph them.
Considerations: My now good friend Keith helped me get my facts right and then make a film about his experience to promote the book and many other Oldham fans went to social medias to promote my Kickstarter campaign – which is how I funded the book. Utilising these contacts and friends is why I think it is important to consider who the audience of a book is. For this project the audience was mainly the Oldham Athletic community so it was marketed towards them but also designed with them in mind. I tried to keep it as cheep as possible, eighteen quid, which for over 100 colour pictures I think is not too bad. Oldham was recently named as the most deprived town in England and I wanted my book to be accessible to all whilst still being professional and something people would want to keep hold of.
Interior: In terms of order, I loosely based it on a day out out at the football. Getting ready at home, travelling to the game, pre-match excitement, the emotions of the game, shenanigans after the game and other parts of the community at the end. My hope is that football fans from other teams can also relate to the book in this sense as the theatre aspect of football is universal.
I used quotes and captioning for important or amusing info and included a few stories of particular supporters, groups or my own experiences to give more info but also change the pace of the book.
Advice and Future Goals: Currently I am finishing my other work in Oldham – Parallel Lives and doing it whilst partaking in the VII photo agency's Masterclass. Shortly after I am starting LCC's online MA in photojournalism. I will be continuing to create stories on social issues in Britain particularly focusing on post-industrial towns and British identity after Brexit.
In terms of tips on publishing again; work out your audience and utilise marketing tools that work for them. Local papers, social media groups, community groups etc.
My biggest tip is to photograph a topic that you are personally interested or involved in. Don't think so much about an end goal at the start but just get in there and see where the photographs take you. Also explore projects similar to your own. European Fields, a book by Hans Van Der Meer showed me that football photography can be beautiful and in book form and this really spurred my direction with the project.