Documenting natural connections through photography

Documenting natural connections through photography
by Allan LEONARD
10 April 2021

Melanie Law, who has just joined the Eve Blair Show on BBC Radio Ulster, interviewed Christopher Barr and me for her inaugural feature (at 26:00). The discussion was on photography and a competition that Belfast Exposed is hosting, in conjunction with Translink and Arts & Business Northern Ireland. Christopher and I shared experiences as a teacher and student, respectively.

I spoke about how I began my coursework at Belfast Exposed with a one-day course on street photography, armed with nothing more than an iPhone. Law asked me how the lockdown brought about by the pandemic has affected my style. I replied that that is a fascinating irony, as street photography can thrive in the hustle and bustle of urban life. But it’s just a different story that you’re telling.

I gave an example of going out on my government encouraged/sanctioned exercise permission, when I would venture out on my bicycle. A camera eye is always present, and I would make images of what I would find visually compelling, like a section of mesh wire fence adorned with medals hung in praise of the efforts of the NHS.

Likewise, Christopher spoke about a fellow student, a doctor at the Ulster Hospital, Tuck Goh, who photographed the pandemic as it unfolded in hospital environments: “You see this work and you’re just mesmerised by it. It is just beautiful.”

The pandemic has been such a major event for everyone. Once, whilst running past two people, I heard one woman say to the other, “I don’t know if I’m going to be able to cope with this.” Christopher explained how the teaching at Belfast Exposed has adapted the perspectives of wellbeing and resilience, encouraging participants to start by photographing someone that brings them joy, to anchor such thoughts.

The idea behind the Natural Connections photography project is to document, visually, what you find as a natural connection — the link between nature and connecting in the last year. Just tag your images on social media with #naturalconnections2021 up until 22nd April.

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