Photography in the Community

Jen Farrant is one of the local artists facilitating workshops with local groups to create work for the Thurrock Art Trail. She wrote a few words about the workshops she has led, giving an insight into her methodology, interests, and the problems which face photographers.

Jen is a writer, photographer and consultant. Her personal photography practice focuses on place, identity and everyday beautiful moments. Her commercial work helps organisations share the story of what they do for their customers, both through photography and writing.

During this project, funded by ACE, and culminating in an exhibition at the Thameside Theatre, as part of the 2017 Thurrock Art Trail, I worked with four community groups, BATIAS, Tilbury Riverside Project, Thurrock Young Producers and Seabrooke Rise Community House.

During each session we looked at ways to take good photographs on smart phones, rather than snaps which are always slightly disappointing when you look at them, and never really capture the spirit of the occasion.

Interspersed with practical sessions working with the rules of photography we discussed what people liked about living in Thurrock and what was important to them.

The discussions inform my practice, and are shaping the photos I take for this exhibition. I want to reflect the positives of Thurrock, we get a bad press sometimes and I want to challenge this, which is why it is important to get a wide range of views and thoughts about Thurrock.

Many of the points raised were things I had thought about previously and I was working to capture, however there were some concepts which hadn’t occurred to me and I am searching these out in my photography shoots.

Most people said their families and friends were what was most important to them and what makes Thurrock their home. Trying to capture this is an ongoing challenge for me, as I don’t like doing ‘street photography’ – taking photos of strangers without their permission. I’m still pondering how I am going to do this without intruding on people in a way which makes me uncomfortable.

All of the participants in the workshops are invited to submit three photos they have captured, using the techniques from my session, to be part of my exhibit. As I write I only have one submission, so I am hoping that there will be more, as I am keen to share that wider viewpoint of the positives of Thurrock.

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