Documenting Britain

The Pop up Portrait Studio

For Documenting Britain, she is running The Pop up Portrait Studio. This outdoor studio is set up on a busy street and offers a free portrait to the passersby.  Kirsty says “It is much more than a Photo Booth - I have given the work a catchy name, but I am serious about this project. I see it as documentary - I am documenting people as they are now. I am interested in something much more than just a record of a person. I am after a real portrait. One that shows some kind of connection, depth and emotion. If I can achieve that from a few minutes with someone that I have just met on the street, then I am happy.”


November 24, 2014

As a photographer, I have long been obsessed by looking. But that’s not unusual—we all are: in the age of social media, on demand TV and film, supplemented by a constant stream of advertising our visual sense is highly developed. But recently I have focussed on listening, listening to the people I photograph. I make a lot of my portraits by stopping people on the streets and photographing them in situe. Now I have added a new piece of equipment to my kit - an audio recorder. It’s been a revelation. In the same way as the camera allows you to engage with strangers, by providing a reason for the encounter; my new recorder gives me permission to be bolder, to talk more at length - without intruding and to delve deeper, beneath the skin of the photograph.

These three short multi media pieces are tests I made whilst working on a portrait project in Bedminster, Bristol. They are work in progress and my first attempt at this kind go work. I was surprised at how open people were, how willing they were to talk and by what they told me, a stranger. I always talk to people when I photograph them, but this time I had a reason and I was able to get more of an understanding of the people I was photographing. As I looked at their faces, studying their features, I listened and I understood. Understanding, empathising and knowing all translates to better pictures and now I am better equipped to do so.