26 by 26 8:33am, 18 April 2013
Make a photograph in collaboration with a subject, that enables the subject to get their message across.
— Tom Hunter

Tom adds…
"In my work I feel that the representing my subjects is extremely important, they are real people and need to be treated with dignity and respect not playthings of an photographer using images to further his own career. I see my work as a collaboration between myself and the subjects, trying to make images which tell stories of a real world for the world."

Woman Reading a Possession Order

(click on the grey icon to view)

The Glass of Wine

(click on the grey icon to view)

Death of Colotti

(click on the grey icon to view)

All images copyright of Tom Hunter

Hunter's work portrays and documents the communities and life he knows as neighbours and friends in East London. He has exhibited work both nationally and internationally, in solo and group shows and is also a Senior Research Fellow of the London College of Communication, University of the Arts London.


As well as being a good place to connect with other members and share your initial reactions, thoughts about how to 'solve it' and any links you think might help the group. This can also be a good place to include any old photos you have that fit the challenge or your work-in-progress during the two weeks before posting your final image to the group pool.

We're looking forward to hearing people's thoughts, good luck everyone!
— 26 by 26 team

(a quick reminder that submissions should have the challenge number in the title or description, there's only one submission allowed per challenge and old photos are only permissible in the discussion threads and not the group pool)
~ Meredith ~ 5 years ago
What a cracking challenge. No idea yet how I might tackle it but I'm looking forward to giving it a go. Tom's photos are extraordinary. I love his Ghetto series and Persons Unknown. I love his use of light and the richness of the colours. I had been thinking of trying to do all the challenges in B&W but this has got me thinking there might need to be an exception. Off to think....
Mark W Russell Posted 5 years ago. Edited by Mark W Russell (admin) 5 years ago
Here are some old shots that go some way to the brief:-

Rachel Anderson of Artangel

Rachel Anderson of Artangel

Matt Brooker (aka D‘ISRAELI)

Matt Brooker (aka D‘ISRAELI) - Comic Artist

Hannah - artist

Hannah Russell - artist
IngeHG PRO 5 years ago
Very interesting challenge and very much outside of my comfort zone (unless the subjects can be inanimate too). Love the pictures of Tom on his website, those Ghetto portraits are great !

The only old picture I have in my stream that comes anywhere near the challenge is this one of a painter with her work for a coffee table book for charity

Another Sophia Loren?
Monty May (OBSERVE) PRO Posted 5 years ago. Edited by Monty May (OBSERVE) (member) 5 years ago
Does the instruction allow some irony or deadpan humour?

Ambience #7

The Laugh

Punk´s not dead
maximilianen 5 years ago
Tattoo Artist at Resting
LornaMcHardy 5 years ago
It's the bit about "getting the message across" that's tricky... a portrait alone won't do that.
Mark W Russell Posted 5 years ago. Edited by Mark W Russell (admin) 5 years ago

Absolutely, the "message" element is what will lift it beyond the "normal" portraiture. Therefore, context, surroundings and the environment will have as much to play in the shot.
Look forward to your submission.
Happy shooting.
gri2011 5 years ago
Sin título
gri2011 5 years ago
Sin título
gri2011 5 years ago
Sin título
gri2011 5 years ago
Juan y "Ella"
gri2011 5 years ago
Sin título
gri2011 5 years ago
El Negro y yo
~ Meredith ~ 5 years ago
Photographing people is very much outside my comfort zone but something that I'd like to do more of. This challenge will definitely push me out there.

Looking back through my stream, these might have been candidates.

ECA_04_Covent Garden Clowns


Challenge #39 Tony

Leripix 5 years ago
Admirable sentiments and inspiring photographs - I am really looking forward to this.

Not too sure whether we are expected to "explain" the photograph, either by title or some text. Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

I would hope that there is always room for humour or irony.

I might have posted one of these to meet the brief:


Against all odds
photodrum PRO Posted 5 years ago. Edited by photodrum (member) 5 years ago
Last Summer I did a shoot for a friend who owns a commercial glass company. He needed some images for his website. Here are several from that shoot. The "subject" part gets a little iffy here. My friend owns the company, but he wanted me to shoot his employees . So The subject of the shoot and the subject in the image are 2 separate but conjoined entities.

The rest of the set is here:

photodrum PRO 5 years ago
photodrum PRO 5 years ago
Levi and Anthony blur bkgd.jpg
photodrum PRO 5 years ago
photodrum PRO 5 years ago
_MG_7337 HP.jpg
photodrum PRO 5 years ago
and 1 more - the last example.
Studyjunkie PRO 5 years ago
Some of my images for my pro bono work would fit here, such as pictures taken for a church renovations appeal, and images made for a local school's prospectus. Here's one from the prospectus (I can't share any with the children's faces for obvious reasons).
krysolove 5 years ago




cadets morning
darcydancer PRO 5 years ago
make up artiste
darcydancer PRO 5 years ago
Spine Loughborough
martkelly Posted 5 years ago. Edited by martkelly (member) 5 years ago
During a day in Brighton last year, I spent some time asking couples to pose for me. I was trying to bring out something of the relationships between the people which goes some way to this challenges brief I think.
Here are two of the more extreme examples.

Togetherness by martkelly

Affection by martkelly

So for the brief, I went along to some St Georges Day celebrations and asked people how they felt about the day.
MrGorski 5 years ago
Hi everyone
When I saw this challenge, my heart sank. I don’t like it when I’m told what to think or that I must do something, even something as unexceptionable as demonstrate respect for another person. And, when I looked at Hunter’s pictures, they irritated me, because I thought they were sanctimonious. (High Victorian rather than Dutch 17th cent.) But, later, thinking about it a bit, I felt that there was something I could take from his example in terms of the space that he leaves around his subjects. His camera isn’t very intrusive, is it? I mean, it doesn’t take over like it often does in close-up; and, so, I guess that’s where the idea of a collaboration starts to bite–by taking a step back he doesn’t impose his will or his agenda directly on the image, and you, the viewer, seem to go straight to his subjects’ point of view. I know I’m being manipulated by him though: just because he’s taken that step back it doesn’t imply that he isn’t trying to press my buttons. Anyway, I thought I’d post this because I needed a bit of help to iron-out some of the formal photographic aspects of the challenge he’s set us.
johnpaddler PRO Posted 5 years ago. Edited by johnpaddler (member) 5 years ago
The instruction says 'collaboration' - so the photographer still brings his/her skills to the party, but uses them to help the subjects communicate their story.

Looking at his 'Persons Unknown', it was Vermeer straight away for me - and I think a canny move by Tom Hunter. I like that he uses his photography for political activism. Actually a Vermeer painting is not such a huge step away from photography, since Vermeer demonstrably used a camera obscura (watch the David Hockney TV documentary). I wonder which other painters might lend themselves to imitation by photographers. De Chirico, Edward Hopper, Tamara de Lempicka, Hockney himself... Caravaggio, William Hogarth ...and many, many more.

As well as giving subjects a voice, I think this instruction can be about how the medium is the message, or style is the message. This reminds me of a project by Norwegian fashion and celebrity photographer Marcel Leliënhof. He secured permission from Hells Angels to photograph them inside their clubs in Norway. The project will be published as a coffee table book in 2014. Norwegian national television put it to him that this amounted to normalisation of a dangerous organisation, and sanitisation of some dangerous criminals. Leliënhof is currently exhibiting part of this series at Nordic Light, Kristiansund N, Norway.
Mark W Russell 5 years ago

Hi Mike
I did not see this as an instruction where I was being told what to do, but rather a chance to consider a different approach. As John P points out perhaps the key word here is "collaboration".
How often when we make pictures is it our imposition of our view or vision, and how often does the subject get a say?
In these challenges I try not to get bogged down in the challenge setters style or means to production, as they are his/hers and I try to find my way to interpret the challenge with a new approach for me. If "pressing buttons" makes us consider a new approach then perhaps not a bad thing. Better than just ploughing a narrow furrow.
Happy shooting
PS If its any consolation, i am really struggling with this one.
MrGorski 5 years ago

Dear johnpadder
Thanks for responding to my cri de cœur. In part, I think the problem I’m gnawing-away-at in in trying to respond appropriately to the challenge might have to do with me having to approach a subject rather than the other way around. I say I “have to” approach them because … well, because I’m not in on anything like a squat or a commune, and I don’t face problems in the way I suppose I might if I found myself in the same leaky boat as Tom, Dick, and Harriet. In short, I’m searching for people with stories to tell, but have this bad feeling about possibly pointing my camera at them.
We’ll have to disagree on whether Hunter brings Vermeer or the PreRaphaelites to mind. It is interesting that he took Vermeer as his model though, and not someone like Trechikoff, or maybe Sickert? I wonder whether Vermeer just had the right sort of detachment in his organization of the subject on his canvass? Could it be compared with (say) Manet’s Bar at the Folies-Bergère? And, at first pass, he does seem to favour women subjects doesn’t he–maybe Vermeer’s sort of (incipient bourgeoise) domestic space has something to do with (bourgeoise) individuality, and with (fundamentally bourgeoise) notions of respect? I don’t know.
Thanks for the link to Leliënhof, by the way– I’ll have a dekko.
MrGorski 5 years ago
Mark Russell123:

Hi Mark
I do take the point about this being a chance to consider a different approach. And, as you rightly say, the key word is “collaboration”: it’s just not all that clear to me how to collaborate when I’m not already in cahoots with anyone. In my reply to johnpedder, for instance, I said that it seemed to me inevitable that I had to take the initiative and approach my putative subject instead of them approaching me, or instead of me and them working together on something that had grown out of a shared interest–in birdwatching maybe, or the local choral society. Anyway, once I do that, once I take the initiative in making a photograph, how am I to let the subject really have their say? I may be wrong, but I think there’s a distinction between getting someone to cooperate with me over taking a picture with them in it, and me cooperating with them over taking the picture that they want. Furthermore, actually demonstrating respect for the other person seems to me to add a different layer to this (for me, problematic) relationship. So I still feel a bit conflicted.
You’re quite right, it’s no good getting bogged down in the challenge-setter’s style: but I think that idea of demonstrating one’s respect pictorially is intriguing, and that’s why I guess I began thinking about the formal (quasi-formal?) elements in Hunter’s pictures. Right again though, I have to find my own means of conveying it.
Thanks for responding to my post: and thanks for mentioning that you too were struggling with the brief–I don’t feel quite such a pillock now I know I’m not entirely alone.
photodrum PRO 5 years ago
Mark and Mike
Let me join your club because I, too, a having a bit of indecision about doing this shoot. I first thought it was much simpler, so I posted a series of images in this thread that were very commercially oriented. I was going to follow this commercial path until I went and looked at Tom Hunter's portfolio. I see now that his work is informed from a much different point of view.So I have changed my perception, which is probably a good thing because I'm now thinking about it in a much deeper and broader way. But that has left me in a place from where I do not know how to start.
MrGorski 5 years ago

Hi photodrum and welcome
If you have any conscious thoughts about how best to respond to this challenge, I for one would be glad to hear them.
catt1871 PRO 5 years ago
Still struggling with this one slightly
Barndillo 5 years ago
This seems very deep and meaningful. With an election looming in Australia soon I might get along to some of the local candidates meetings. Sure to find some passionate messages there.
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