student photographers confront societal issues

Student photographers confront societal issues


In November, students on the Photojournalism and Documentary Photography MA course at the London College of Communication presented their projects to the public at an exhibition in London.

The Elephants in the Room exhibition saw students address societal issues from around the world, from post-colonialism to mental health, ageing, inequality and migration.

Using photographs, film and text, the students presented a visual exploration of their chosen subject.

Here is a small selection from the students’ projects.

Person holding an animal skull outdoorsImage copyright Zoe Savitz

Still Waters, by Zoe Savitz

Zoe Savitz focused on Bulgaria’s shrinking population, documenting the lives of people in the Rhodope Mountains, where many villages stand derelict.

“Quietness echoes everywhere you go, a melancholic feeling as you pass through. The sound of flowing water can be heard, a peaceful reminder of this vast and beautiful rural environment.

“Few visitors pass by here. When I wander through, I am welcomed into people’s homes, like family.”

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Woman under grey clouds on a beachImage copyright Marco Massa

Oltremare, by Marco Massa

Marco Massa’s project provided an intimate portrait of his mother’s life living with Parkinson’s disease.

“Facing the sea, as far as the eyes can reach before they meet the sky, is the Oltremare. With our feet planted on wet sand, it is a shade of blue we can only perceive from a distance, from one angle; not as vibrant as the waters we can walk into, not as boundless as the cerulean above. Only a deep dive, away from the safety of the land, reveals its nature.

“Just like the multiplicity of life and the transformational nature of growing up, people affected by Parkinson’s disease experience a variety of symptoms, both psychological and physical, which can translate into a multitude of selves.”

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Woman sat on the ground in front of a line of policeImage copyright Hiroyuki Taira

Behind the Wall, by Hiroyuki Taira

As the thirtieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall approaches, Hiroyuki Taira’s project questioned people’s motivation to build walls.

“Why do some countries build walls and fences? They are constructed physically and ideologically for different purposes: separation, defence, and border. Border barriers generally aim at separating conflicting states and keeping out migrants. People seem to think it is a security measure. But walls usually create more problems.

“Through this project, I deliver images to show that people become powerless and sometimes powerful when confronted with walls.”

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Woman in a workshop wearing a facemaskImage copyright Tom Warland

The British Heritage Project, by Tom Warland

Tom Warland’s ongoing project looks at craftspeople in the UK.

“In an age of reliance on the pre-made and the computer-made, there has been a rise in popularity for artisan crafts. Craftsman across Britain are learning ancient skills and trades, and putting them into practice, working on the knife-edge that is between the security of certainty, and the ruin of weeks of work.”

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Man sat alone on a benchImage copyright Adam Onishi

Manscape, by Adam Onishi

Adam Onishi’s documentary film and accompanying photographs aimed to reduce the stigma around men’s mental health by sharing the stories of six men who are beginning to talk about their issues.

“Whether suffering depression, anxiety, burnout, imposter syndrome or one of many other common mental health problems, men’s mental health is a serious condition that can often go unnoticed. To show others that it is possible to talk about these issues, the film looks at the experiences of men dealing with their mental health problems, what helps them get through and how they were able to start to seek help.”

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Group of people dressed in white next to a treeImage copyright Jesper Houborg

We Are Still Here, by Jesper Houborg

Jesper Houborg’s project looked at identity and the post-colonial legacy in everyday life in urban Zimbabwe.

“We Are Still Here is a visual investigation into the collective spirit – zeitgeist – of a young nation highly underreported due to a tightly closed media space.”

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Woman sat indoors aloneImage copyright Aylin Illel

Ce N’est Pas Moi (It’s Not Me), by Aylin Illel

Aylin Illel explored contemporary womanhood in Turkey, through domestic spaces and possessions.

“Turkey has been a secular state during the last century. The changing socio-political climate has intensified its effects on each citizen over the course of the last two decades. The women and their existential struggles have become even more invisible and inconspicuous.

“This work aims to create a feeling about contemporary womanhood focusing on the notion of oppression from patriarchal family and social structure.”

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Person feeding a herd of goats outdoorsImage copyright Lily Bungay

Ikaria, by Lily Bungay

The older inhabitants of the Greek island Ikaria are documented in Lily Bungay’s project.

“Ikaria is a Greek island unbound by conventional notions of time. Its oldest inhabitants are not segregated, but celebrated. Institutional care homes do not exist and instead every home is individually cared for. The island’s traditional way of life has stood the test of time, allowing for prolonged, happy and healthy lives, mostly unmarked by cancer, dementia and heart disease.”

The Elephants in the Room exhibition ran from 15 – 18 November 2018 at London College of Communication. The full range of student projects can be viewed on the Elephants in the Room website.