52 by 52 7:37am, 16 August 2012
Challenge #51: Flip the script.
— Josh Cole

Josh adds…
“With my projects I always try to work against stereotypes and change people's preconceptions. When I shoot in the slums around the world I try to reflect the energy, strength, hard work and positivity of people living in poverty which goes against the 'charity' view of miserable people with their hand out.

With the work I've done with Romany gypsy and Irish traveller communities in the UK I've tried to show how, in my experience, they are a proud, hardworking and noble people which totally goes against the 'gypsy wedding' view.

I want you to go out and show the unexpected side of a group of people, place or sub-culture and show it to the world.”

Physical Graffiti
In the early days of hip-hop, graffiti was a way of making slum areas look better through art. "Physical Graffiti" is my way of using break-dance and other forms of urban physicality to do the same things in ghettos around the world.

Gypsies not tramps and thieves
Portraits of Irish travelers from Dale Farm and other sites from around the London area from 2011.

View more of Josh Cole's work >

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. We're looking forward to hearing your thoughts this week.

— 52 by 52 team
david_gillett 6 years ago
Way back in week #24 I decided to document an evening spent with a group of War-gamers. I've always been fascinated and confused by the activity, it seemed to me to be a mass of contradictions.

Despite trying to be as open minded as possible I went in with a preconceived idea of what a typical war-gamer might be like, which by and large turned out to be wrong. They were a welcoming bunch who didn't take their hobby very seriously, placing camaraderie far and above any sense of competitiveness. The age range also surprised me with many player being over 30.

That being said I found myself being drawn to photograph the more atypical teenage players who would more closely fit the stereotypes of the war-gaming community. They seemed strange and fascinating to me because they inhabited a space further away from my understanding of the world.

Despite having my preconceptions challenged and a desire to have the photographs reflect that altered mindset I came away from the evening with a slightly misrepresentative set of images because I knew they would be more interesting anthropologically (for the want of a better word). It's something I don't terribly proud of. I found the fact the image-maker within me was battling my desire to represent the group fairly an uncomfortable feeling.

I think a longer term project covering the same subject would create a more balanced representation. A single photo struggles to tell the depth of any story. I came out of the process with a greater sense of how strong the temptation is for photojournalists working for Reuters to misrepresent their subjects. And also for the importance of long term investigative photographic projects that have the time and space to explore their subjects more holistically.

I guess this was pretty obvious to start off with but having experienced a sense of guilt for a myopic representation of a sub-culture I feel it all the more keenly (even if it was a Tuesday night spent in a local pub and not war-torn Syria). It's something I'm going to bear in mind for this challenge.

bart1eby 6 years ago
Very interesting David. As an additional note I think it's also worth questioning how much we can do to 'flip the script' as, out of context, and even assuming that we're all starting from the same 'script' to begin with, a single photograph, or even a set, can (should?) possess multiple readings. For example despite his comments I can imagine a number of his "gypsies" images being used to illustrate one of the numerous 'gypsy wedding' style programmes. But perhaps I'm just annoyed because I shot this the day before the brief...

three dimensional
Julia M Cameron PRO 6 years ago
David, identifying a suitable sub-culture and then ensuring that the stereotype is not reinforced...tricky, but do-able.

Ben, your image has unlocked some ideas about photographing place rather than people. A modern contrast in ancient surroundings...regrowth of vegetation in abandoned places...some kind of positive incongruity of juxtaposition (oh, did I really just write that)!

I'm going to mingle with holiday-makers on the North Norfolk coast this parks perhaps?
david_gillett Posted 6 years ago. Edited by david_gillett (admin) 6 years ago
Some very valid points Ben, I do prefer Josh's Physical Graffiti work. Perhaps that's because it feels like the narratives feel more organic. I was quite impressed with this video of Josh's

You're right Julia, the image does open out the possibility of showing a sub-culture just through their environment. Caravanning seems like a world unto itself, a fertile hunting ground I'm sure (any pointers Katie?!)

Sub-cultures can be very attractive to the world of advertising as they can bring a degree of edginess to the products they sell, so I'd be quite interested in cultures that don't have the whiff of subversion... I've always been fascinated by bus spotters.
scala66/Paul Marsh PRO 6 years ago
i was thinking something similar yesterday and missed a great chance to shoot pigeon racing.
david_gillett 6 years ago
Pigeon racing would have be perfect, shame. You might of already seen it but I thought this was brilliant: Paloma al Aire - (The first minute is skippable and the music is irritating though)
scala66/Paul Marsh PRO 6 years ago
fantastic david. do you know why they paint them like that, i presume its to do with identification. its quite an eye opening event when you get chatting to the guys who race them and also breed them. very dedicated.
isnt mike tyson a big fan?
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