Tag Archives: BBC

People

The asylum seekers, migrants and refugees in search of legitimacy

This is the scene. A BBC crew arrives at a Red Cross refugee drop-in centre with a large camera and a long furry microphone. Is anybody willing to go on camera to speak about their experience of being a refugee, asylum seeker or migrant? The room quickly empties. Not one is willing to bare their face to the camera.

This makes for an interesting proposition for a photographer.

So I put my cameras down in a corner and joined a table to talk, listen and learn.

For an hour or so, as it turned out.

Speaking out, I learned, rarely works out well for them. They fear repercussions either from officialdom or from those who may wish them harm. Not just fear actually, because sometimes talking out has turned out bad for people they know.

It makes me think about those examples of ‘good’ journalism where people have been coaxed into spilling all to the camera or mic, being named and so on. But when the journalist moves on to the next job, the contributor can be left to face the music.

“What about if we are not shown?” a man, sat next to me, asks.

“In pictures?” I ask.

“Yes, for sure.”

“That could work. Portraits without the faces.”

The idea creates a bit of a buzz around the table and everybody is willing to take part.

It’s more than a compromise, says a young woman opposite, who dreams of university. It is a statement of being. They exist, they say, in an incomplete and faceless way on Home Office documents. Then I did portraits of the Red Cross workers who help provide clothing, food tokens, advice or, in one case while I was there, a caring shoulder to cry on.

Here are the results of that day.

Migrants

Migrants

Migrants

Migrants

Migrants

Red Cross worker

Red Cross worker

Red Cross worker

migrant

Long Exposures, Places

Industrial mono, Salford

My work with the BBC last week took me to Salford, not a million miles from my home town, Halifax.

Media City, home to the BBC, ITV and others involved in the media production industry, has risen from the decayed remains of the old docks.

There’s something of the Nairobi Jockey Club about Media City.

The jockey club is a little bit of colonial white turf, with its white picket fence, beyond which is black Kenya. The picket fence – captured by Magnum photographer Stuart Franklin – is more than a barrier between inside and out, its a barrier between two separate worlds, two different times.

Broadway is Salford’s white picket fence, dividing the granite, glass and concrete of media land and the red-brick realism of earthy old Salford.

I thought the old folk of Salford would hold Media City in disdain. But at least one – a guy called Derek who likes rugby league – says that’s not quite the case.

Salford didn’t like the snootiness some in the BBC showed at the move up north. But it does seem that for a good number of people, Media City – and the hotel industry that has sprung up around it – has brought decent wages and job opportunities which, in turn, has led to an increase in home ownership and a sense of security and stature to old Salford.

“Do you and your mates drink at Media City then?” I asked Derek.

He smiles. “F**k no, lad.”

Some way to go then, until Salford loses its white picket fence.

Here’s my take on Media City:

Lowry Museum, Salford Lowry Museum, Salford Media City Salford Quays Bridge Bridge