I chose to study photography as one of my A-levels and it was one of the best decisions I’ve made. The course was so diverse and you had so much freedom. I remember making a project about dogs and their owners called ‘Dog Waste Only’, and then I made a video about the physical process of reading. It was so much fun thinking of ideas and seeing them come to life.
But when it came to my final project, I hit a wall. I struggled to think of an idea I was really excited about. When my teacher asked me, “What are you interested in?” I replied, “People and their stories”. The next day he excused me from my lessons, and I was on a train on my way to Brighton with a camera.
Arriving in Brighton, I bought a small notebook and a pen. I began asking strangers “What has been your favourite journey so far?" I took their portrait, asking them to write their answer down in my notebook. I photographed 10 people in total, and placed their portrait next to their handwriting.
I found my camera gave me confidence to ask people personal questions that would have been very difficult to ask without a camera or purpose. It worked both ways - some of the answers shared were deep and private, yet surprisingly, people were willing to divulge them to me and my camera.
After returning to England, my dissertation was getting closer. I knew I wanted to focus on the theory that the camera is a psychoanalytic stimulant, but this time I wanted to take it a step further. Instead of asking strangers, I wanted to ask the people closest to me - my family.
I realised that I had never sat down one-on-one with any of my family members to ask them important questions like, “what are your aspirations for life?” and “what’s your happiest memory?”. Without the camera, these questions could have easily been dismissed or laughed at, with everyday distractions stealing the focus. But with just me, the subject and a camera, it created honest answers that had never been shared before.
Today I’m working as a freelance filmmaker and am currently in the final stages of making a documentary about a woman with cerebral palsy who is a brilliant boxer. Other projects include a music video soon to be shot in Brighton, alongside video content for a new app. Every day is different, but I feel privileged to be able to share each story – and I hope there are many more to come.