‘The Photographer Is Me’ is a participatory arts photography project in collaboration with a community of West Midlands based asylum seekers. Catalysed by the desire to shift the power dynamic within photography, the project set out to host virtual workshops with the intent to educate, inform and cultivate a safe space for participants to express their
creativity. Via the combination of participant photographs, emulsion lifts, oral storytelling and artist portraits – the project has been realised into a photobook co-authored by McGill and his participants. Individuals seeking asylum in Britain often live on the margins of society after fleeing their native country; their life has been catapulted from one nation to another. Yet, even as they find comfort in Britain, they are met with the hostile environment imposed by the British government. It was always important to support the participants' creative development through such a creative service that is often not provided to individuals seeking asylum.
More photos by the participants can be viewed here
WIAM AND FADY
The following gallery showcases photographs captured by both Wiam and Fady during their participation in the workshop project 'The Photographer Is Me'. Multiple artist portraits also feature alongside their images. Wiam and Fady came to the UK during the pandemic, so when asked to choose a significant location for their portrait - they found this difficult. We ended up shooting in their garden, due to the significance of it being their current home - and having spent so much time there during the pandemic. The duo shared the camera to photograph their household, local environment and hobbies. “I was attempting to photograph the cemetery and church behind the bars. I enjoy visiting churches to view the architecture. In Lebanon, the churches are mostly new, and a lot smaller.” Wiam, 2021.
The following gallery is a showcase of photographs captured by Hassan during his participation in the workshop project 'The Photographer Is Me'. Two artist portraits also feature alongside his images. The portraits of Hassan were shot at St Paul’s Church in Birmingham. The church has been a hub, and a community space for asylum seekers of Persian heritage like Hassan. Most recently, the church hosted an exhibition of photographs by the Persian community - in which Hassan exhibited his images from the project. Hassan was particularly fond of capturing the impact we as humans have had on the planet, by photographing the litter prominent in his local environment. "My faith is important, it changed my life. Now I have a father, God is my father.” Hassan, 2021.
The following gallery is a showcase of photographs captured by Busie during her participation in the workshop project 'The Photographer Is Me'. Busie chose to have her portrait taken in her home, and her community garden - as both are spaces she spends the majority of her time. Busie's intentions with the camera was to photograph her local environment in Birmingham, to preserve the memories of her time living there. “I wanted to use the camera so I could photograph the area I live, so I can remember the home and area I lived in if I ever have to move in the future.” Busie, 2021.
The following gallery is a showcase of the photographs captured by Alberto during his participation in the workshop project 'The Photographer Is Me'. Two artist portraits of Alberto also feature alongside his images. Alberto wished to have his portrait taken within Cannon Hill Park, he told me it is a space where he frequently meets friends from his home country El Salvador. Reminding him of the culture, memories and food prominent in his upbringing. By visiting the surrounding parks, cemeteries and even supermarkets - Alberto embraced the camera as a tool to explore and represent his locale. “I like to read the words on the gravestones. In some ways it allows me to read about the history of who was there, and who that person was. Its lovely, a little bit sad, but lovely.” Alberto, 2021.
The following gallery is a showcase of photographs captured by Anonymous during his participation in the workshop project 'The Photographer Is Me'. Two artist portraits also feature alongside his images. The participant chose the city of Birmingham for his portrait session. Without a specific location in mind, but an admiration for the city he previously lived in - we strolled around the city centre photographing images that enabled his identity to be hidden. The participant utilised his camera to document the urban landscape and aspects of his daily routine. “In ten years time I see myself having my own company in events management, and hopefully I will have completed a master’s degree.” Anonymous, 2021.
Nathan McGill (b.2000) is an emerging photographer and writer based in Bradford, UK. By utilising participatory arts practice and documentary portraiture, McGill seeks to collaborate with communities by engaging them into the creation of artwork.
McGill’s work highlights themes of identity, collaboration and sociology – where the interrelationship between people and place play an important role.