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Thinking Differently

POSTED: 03 February 2021

See new work by London students, using photography to represent themselves and the unique times we find ourselves in.



One facet of our mission is to educate: who makes photographs? Who are photographs for? Who is an artist? What can a photograph mean? Autograph has recently worked with teachers and schools to share how visual representation intersects with issues of identity and human rights, and how students can make profound commentary on these questions using a tool that is literally in their hands – their phone.

In September 2020 we teamed up with Creative Schools and professional photographer Alejandra Carles Tolra to work with George Monoux College and Morley College, Chelsea Centre for Creative Industries in London. Our goal was to empower students to represent themselves, and the issues they care about, using photography.

We started with the teachers, setting up training sessions about race and identity in the classroom, using images from Autograph’s collection and thinking about creative approaches to exploring these issues. Students then joined us for online workshops; a safe, constructive space for them to share their ideas about personal identity and community. What emerged were passionate discussions about the media stereotypes that affect their lives as young people, and the impact of current social justice issues including the Black Lives Matter movement and the global pandemic.

We asked: how could photography be a means to challenge negative representations and create images that show different perspectives and shine a positive light? For inspiration, we looked at work by artists including Zanele Muholi, Mahtab Hussain and Omar Victor Diop. Alejandra shared her documentary photography practice giving the students an insight into creative and sensitive ways of representing communities, a first-hand account of the life of a professional photographer. She then set a photography challenge, for each student to use their mobile phone camera to create a series of images that reveal ‘what is below the surface’.

See the results for yourself below.





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Images, on page from top: 1) Hibo Ahmed, 2020 2) Marieam Mansaray, 2020 3) Aisha Yusuf, 2020 4) Viola, 2020 5) Azmona Hasan, 2020

In Slideshow: 6) Caleb Hudson-Carrington, 2020 7) Eva McPartland, 2020 8) Marieam Mansaray, 2020 9) Celine, 2020 10) Hibo Ahmed, 2020 11) Angela Yvette Waithe, 2020 12) Caleb Hudson-Carrington, 2020 13) Senan Flude-Fear, 2020

Rest of page: 14) Cosmin, 2020 15) Salma Moussaif Chrai, 2020 16) Nana Bernard, 2020 17) Viola, 2020 18) Maria Maruleva, 2020 19) Sam Shepherd 2020 20) Ilham Mohamed, 2020 21) Aisha Yusuf, 2020 22) Rin Akinlagun, 2020