I graduated in 1996 with an Honours Degree in Psychology with Politics, writing my final thesis on the wars in the Former Yugoslavia. I became obsessed (in a healthy way) with all things Balkan and spent the rest of the year volunteering in a small social reconstruction project in Pakrac; a small war torn town in Croatia. The war was over but the town remained divided and was ninety per cent destroyed. It was here that I first picked up a camera to document my surroundings.
The following year in 1997 I continued volunteering in Sarajevo. This time I set up a makeshift darkroom, using donated photography equipment, and ran a small photo class in the basement of the city’s main orphanage. I taught children, aged six to sixteen, basic photography techniques – shooting with 35mm SLR film cameras, developing their films and printing their photographs. The focus was all on the project and the kids’ photographs. My own photography career would start later, but my time in the Balkans was my baptism in so many ways.
In 2000 I began working as a Visual Communications Manager for an international charity and was sent on frequent photo and story gathering assignments across Africa and Eastern Europe. An introduction to a portable Sony Handy Cam began the process of moving from still image to moving image – the ability to capture sounds and actuality for campaigning and marketing films took hold. I then began creating short documentary films for the NGO – documenting issues such as the HIV/AIDS crisis in Sub Saharan Africa in the early 2000s and the closure of state orphanages across Eastern Europe.
In 2006 I went freelance as a documentary photographer and filmmaker and continued travelling across the world for various NGOs. In 2008 after years of angst about being ‘self taught’ in photography I undertook an MA in Documentary Photography at the London College of Communication, graduating with Distinction in 2010. As part of my Masters’ final project I began documenting my home city of Glasgow, photographing and filming stories from those living on the frontline of demolition and regeneration. This would culminate in my long term project, book and films – Disappearing Glasgow(Freight). The photo-book sold out of two editions and the photography and multimedia work was exhibited in Glasgow, Paris and London.
In 2014 my first feature length directorial debut – Finding Family– won two BAFTA Scotland Awards and was premiered to a sold-out audience at the Sarajevo Film Festival, and then screened at the BHFF in New York and the GFT in Glasgow. The film was then acquired and broadcast by Aljazeera.
I am the founder of Journey Productions – a Creative Video studio producing, directing and editing short films for a range of clients from Tennent’s Lager to British Red Cross. My photography work on long-term documentary projects continues, with regular photo essays and commissions in The Guardian. Barrowland BalIads – a collaborative arts project/book of photography, graphics and essays was published last year (Graphical House).
For 2020 / 2021 I am currently working on a new project – A Balkan Journey, funded by Creative Scotland. A Balkan Journey is a Visual Arts project in the form of an exhibition, new writing, international and local events / presentations / discussions and a book of photography and essays.
It takes us on a photographic journey through the towns and cities of post conflict Former Yugoslavia in this extensive and previously unseen 24-year archive from the region. It’s a collection of work that will showcase of my earliest unseen photographs from Croatia in 1996 through to the documentation of Middle Eastern migrants trapped in Sarajevo in 2019. The exhibition and book will happen late 2020 / early 2021.