This week’s mini symposium explored this idea Activism and the Image and consisted of two presentations delivered by photographers Alex Beldea and Daniel Castro Garcia.

Alex Beldea is a documentary photography who is currently studying his PhD at the University of Huddersfield. Alex’s practice involves an exploration into the correlation between different visual media platforms and the influence this has on the growing number of citizen photographers. Alex’s work specifically focuses on refugees in Europe and Tunisia. His aim is to showcase this found information through different digital media formats such as photographs, interviews, appropriated images, documents… Through looking at an example of Fred Ritchen’s work Alex emphasises the power of combining photography with different media and how it initiates us as the audience to think about what media is today, how we are using it and how we are going to manipulate it in a way that will encourage positive change. For example, activism is an effort to try and be more involved in social, political and environmental issues, with the aim of creating reform and a more positive impact on society. This photograph, commissioned by the administration of Washington at the beginning of the Black Lives Matter movement, highlights this collaborative process of artists and photographers coming together to use art as a way of confronting and highlighting societal issues.

(Naji-Allah, 2020)

Alex’s reference to portrait photographer Laura Pannack stood out to me as she is one of the main photographers I have been currently researching and taking influence from for my own personal project It feels Like Home (Galloway, 2020). Laura’s project Separation explores the feelings and emotions felt by London couples as a result of Brexit. With many originating from different countries, Laura’s photos aim to document this social and political issue in a way that is more delicate, intimate and indirect compared to the conventional activist/photojournalistic images. In relation to my work, I hope to adopt the same delicacy with my images, expressing the complexities of identity in a way that is informative yet subtle to the eye.  Through exploring my own Scottish heritage, I aim to use minimalistic props and sceneries that in themselves will tell the story of where I come from.

(Pannack, 2018)