University: University of Gloucestershire
What and where did you study? What encouraged you to study on this course? I studied Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at the University of Gloucestershire. At the time there weren’t many programs offering a focus on both photojournalism and documentary, and I think that’s why I was drawn to the course. After doing a couple of years at college already studying photography I knew that these areas interested me most.
Can you give us an overview of your shortlisted series of work? What is it called and what is it about? The series is called Calais Hinterlands. I set out to record the aftermath of the destruction of the south side of the refugee camp, which took place in March. I wanted to document daily life in this new, more remote and unresolved ‘jungle’, it was a very uncertain time for everyone living there. This series, my first visit there, documented the transitioning camps first steps leading to the whole area being closed and dismantled later in the year.
What are some common themes or subjects that run through your work? What equipment did you use to make your series? Themes of migration and identity inevitably run through the work. I also wanted to explore the landscape, how it had been affected by the events of previous weeks and how the people living in the camp were adjusting to the evolving landscape. I used a DSLR and a combination of a wide angle and a standard lens.
Who or what influences and motivates you the most when making new work? I get motivated by researching the subject I want to do a series on, looking at other photographer’s work or any other form of visual storytelling that has explored similar subjects as what I intend to. For the Calais work I was motivated by the likes of Daniel Castro Garcia and Jerome Sessini, among many others.
When producing new work, I always stayed motivated by being critiqued. Feedback, whether good or bad, I felt was always important in establishing a narrative or discovering a path to an edit.
How did you feel about being shortlisted for the South West Graduate Photography Prize? It was a good moment, and of course I was proud, because it meant the work I created in Calais and the story I wanted to tell was done justly and therefore communicated well. I was glad that being a finalist would help the work reach a wider audience during Photoblock 2016.
What exposure have you gained as a result of being shortlisted? How do you think it will benefit your future as a photographer? The exhibition itself was a great opportunity to network and receive feedback for my series. Being shortlisted allowed me to meet and talk to a range of editors and photographers at the exhibition, to listen and learn before returning to Calais to continue to document the refugee camp and the developing situation the following week.
Has being shortlisted taught you anything vital? Can you give any advice to other or future graduates? That your projects, how they are presented and exhibited, are the best way to engage people and make new connections, especially important post graduating.
I think having the increased creative freedom as a studying photographer is a luxury when trying to develop your own method of visual storytelling, so I’d say to future graduates try your best to make the most of that time. Do lots of research, edit well and as much as possible and send your best work to as many competitions as you can, remembering that each competition is a unique one that requires a certain entry.
Tell us about any plans you have for your work in the future. I aim to continue working on personal projects. I’m always looking at ways to improve the projects I’ve already started and never treat them as closed. I’ve been accepted to participate in the NOOR-Nikon academy workshop with 14 other aspiring photojournalists. This will be a great experience and I’m looking forward to sharing my work from Calais with tutors Robin Hammond, Sebastian Liste and Tanya Habjouqa.
Follow this link to Jacob's Photograd Feature where you can find out more about Calais Hinterlands.