January 23rd 2014 is a very exciting day, as I have my first book published and officially launched at 93 Feet East in London's infamous Brick Lane.
A beautifully printed document, 'We Teach Music' is the result of a photographic odyssey across the length and breadth of the United Kingdom, capturing secondary education music teachers who have really driven the success of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation's special initiative - Musical Futures.
This epic, 20 location, 20 portrait project involved driving 2,156 miles across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Island and was completed in just 15 back-to-back days during September 2013. The accompanying #whereisemile blog and Twitter posts took on a life of its own within the music educating community and by the 3rd week, the guessing game of who I would be visiting next became obsessive for some :-)
My wish for this series was to pictorially integrate several narratives to create a snapshot of some of the UK’s music departments in 2013. Such a far reaching photographic journey is increasingly rare, so Musical Futures’ brave and bold decision to allow a photographer to climb into a car full of equipment should be congratulated.
The portraits were framed in an ‘environmental’ manner, meaning that the music teacher and their personality would feature heavily but with contextual reference to their workplace surroundings. This style of framing ensured that the schools’ age, construction type and condition would be highlighted, along with personal objects many teachers add to their classrooms.
Choice of camera and lens was critical – I chose my trusty Mamiya RZ67 Pro ii & 110mm 2.8 Sekor lens
as well as a Profoto generator, lamps and modifiers to ensure optimum aperture and to allow for creative sculpting of light throughout the portraits to guide the viewer’s eye. All frames were shot on Kodak Portra 120 negative film.
My warmest gratitude is extended to the whole Musical Futures' team ( + David Price & Anna Gower) Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Ocky & Michael at COG Design, who designed this book and transposed my images so beautifully into print.
I would like to shout out special 'big-up' to Abigail D'Amore, who I first worked with documenting Musical Futures during its infant years way back in 2006. Abi - your unwavering support for my visual narrative and inclusion into the Musical Futures' family since day one has been brilliant. Thank you.
5 of the 52 pages follow...