MyVision 2010 – Documentary Photography Workshop

Back from Brighton – and just about recovered a week later. My documentary assignment was revealed to me on the Monday morning, as expected, at 6am. I had had three hours sleep after sitting up until the early hours being a geek with fellow geeks talking about equipment and drinking that fizzy drink that gives you wings.

So I was to spend the next 48 hours photographing the ins and the outs of the number 12 bus which runs backwards and forwards from Brighton to Eastbourne, a two and a half hour round trip. I was told that many of the staff at MyVision regarded this as one of the hardest assignments, as it was so openended, and there was no obvious route to take (excuse the pun) with the story telling element. My aim was to produce a narrative, not just photograph what happened to occur in front of me.

Sitting on the bus that morning, as the rain tipped down outside and the passengers stumbled on and shuffled off, it became clear to me that as the only constant presence, the bus itself had to become the central character, and what it sees and how it is treated by its inhabitants each day as it silently moves through the landscape, would be the story.

I observed happy smiling passengers, mums with their kids, showy teenagers, old folk alone, with time to pass, and acute solitude. Melancholia became the underunning theme, all the passengers in their own world with their own burdens, collected together under the watchful eyes of the bus, which appears in the photographs as a blurred impartial onlooker, framing the passengers as they travel.

Spending two days photographing the general public was a daunting prospect, as the confines of the bus meant that I could not take a picture and disappear – so I had to either communicate and explain myself, or skulk like I have never skulked before. I did both. My work was critiqued without mercy by my team leader each night, both critiques ending somewhere around  5am. Both nights I didn’t sleep as the first bus left soon after.

It was an exhilarating, intimidating and rewarding project. I got to spend time with some amazing photographers and made some great friends. We got together on Wednesday night at Jamie Oliver’s restaurant to watch the slideshows that we had all produced from our assignments. A lot of emotion, and a massive demonstration of top class photography. I don’t think I even ate anything apart from some bread.

Have a look at the website:

Here are a few of my favourite shots from the assignment: