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Pass the Portrait

May 4, 2021

Last month I launched a new photography project as part of the University of Bradford’s Unify Festival. Pass the Portrait will see me mentoring people across the city as they pass the portrait going from subject to photographer. As part of the festival I was asked to create a short introductory video and so I took the opportunity to explain why for me, photography is about capturing people. 

Back in 2010, I was working at the University of Bradford when I took delivery of my first proper digital camera. Walking home through the city that evening I was taking some terrible pictures of all sorts of rubbish when, from across the street, I heard “Hey mate, are you from the T&A?” 

I shared a smile with my heckler before explaining that, I was just trying out my new camera. “Come and take my picture” he insisted. It was at this point that I noticed a lady stood with him, who he may or may not have been trying to impress! I very much welcomed the opportunity to replace my trees and letterboxes with an actual human subject and so I wandered over and with little direction took a couple of frames. 

That was the moment I knew that, for me, photography was going to be about people. Looking back at the image I can see that cheeky character shining through and since then I’ve always strived to recreate that feeling of capturing a little of someone in every photo. Making that connection has always been a greater thrill than any sunset or perfectly crafted still life. 

Since becoming a professional photographer, another of my favourite aspects of the job has been the places it has taken me to. Different parts of the UK, entirely new countries, as well as going ‘behind the scenes’ at factories, tv studios and even the Houses of Parliament. 

Pass the Portrait combines these two elements of photography, people and place. Through the project I hope we’ll meet a wide variety of interesting characters and look forward to the journey that they’ll take us on through Bradford. I also hope that by handing over the camera to them, I can share something of my passion for connecting with people through photography. 

Here is the first image from the project, Nic Greenan who is the lead for cultural partnerships at Bradford Council. We’re already in discussion about our next shoot and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you.

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