Human Trafficking

17 February 13

Posted at 2:30

I am in my second year of 4 year BA Photography at the University of Westminster. Last semester, together with three others, we completed a collaborative 'constructed photography' project. Our output was to be four A3 prints and four medium format transparencies. One of us would take the lead for each image with a minimum of three individuals invloved in the lightimg set up and shooting of each image. We were to use medium format film cameras.

So the exercise was about, the use of lighting to construct an image,narrative and team work. It's easy for a photographer to enjoy working alone and being in control of every aspect of the project. It is a reality that when lots of equipment is necessary and there are multiple taks it is unlikely that the photographer will not at some point need to collaborate with others, be that assistants, lighting specialists, other photographers and of course models.

I worked with Olga Suchanova, David Rouillaux and Lucia Hrda 

We decided on a theme of Human Trafficking for London's Sex Trade. After much research we chose to produce four images showing the typical stages of the trafficking process, in this case from Eastern Europe to London.

Trafficking 1

This first image is typical of the process a local boy acting for the trafficking gang will meet and impress a girl in a bar or club. Over a fairly short period he will impress her then dupe her into believing he has relatives in London and can give her the opportunity to go there with him. He promises that once there they will have well paid jobs and a new life. Once she is duped he will arrange travel but at the last minute will advise her that he will have to follow later but a relative will meet her on arrival and take care of her until he arrives in London.

Trafficking 2

On arrival all is not as expected. In this image a girl has arrived at a railway station expecting to meet her boyfriend's uncle. But she is met by an aggressive man whose sole intent is to get posseion of the girls passport there by trapping her and being in command. She is taken to a house and given a room. She may be initially raped by the aggressor or his accomplices and from that point on she will receive visits from punters wiilling to pay for sex. She will not be allowed out but will remain locked in her room.

Trafficking 3

Very quickly she will become depressed and desperate. Usually victimes are faced with three possibilities. They may escape, which is difficult. They will have been advised that no-one will listen to them and that without a passport the authorites will simply imprison or deport them. It's made clear to them that attempting to escape will result in their death. A second option that some take up is to join the gang and become part of the trafficking process. And lastly in desperation they might commit suicide or having outlived their usefullness be murdered by the traffickers.

Trafficking 4

On average a victim is in the process for seven months from that fatal meeting in a bar or club to, more often than not, being on a mortuary slab.

There are charities who provide support and refuge for victims. For example   The Poppy Project run by Eaves

As a group and as individuals we are pleased with our results. Many thanks to our fantastic models Zuzanna, Nastia Ku, Anastasia, and Heloise Faure.



The Blind Beggar Pub

06 February 13

Posted at 10:18

Today I have been 'shooting' at The Blind Beggar pub in Whitechapel Road. No doubt Ronnie Kray said something simliar back in 1966. This semester's project at uni is Documentary Photography - the output is to produce 5 - 9 colour prints in the colour darkroom along with associated research files. I have chosen Crime Scenes as my project. I intend to photograph the scenes of infamous crimes as they are today. In due course I will no doubt broaden the project into a book with original images, my up to date shots and details from my research. I am shooting on medium format colour film using a Mamiya RB67.

I took along my DSLR as well today and took a couple of snaps with it. The outside of the pub has not changed dramatically since 1966. I shot a roll of film outside and then popped in and met the landlord Dave. What a diamond he is! He is a keen photographer himself so we had lots to talk about.

Blind Beggar Sign

The Blind Beggar is a traditional London pub. The current pub was built in 1894 on the site of a previous inn that had been there since before 1654. In 1865 William Booth gave a sermon outside the inn and from that the Salvation Army was born. The pub also fronted and was the brewery tap for Manns Brewery. But the pub is best known for the events of 9th March 1966 when Ronnie Kray walked into the pub and shot and killed George Cornell in front of a number of witnesses. Cornell was a member of the Kray's rival gang, the Richardsons.

Although the pub's interior has changed quite a bit Dave showed the spot at the bar where George Cornell was sitting when he was shot. We put a stool there and I photographed it (below). I've attempted to capture it on film as well but my experience with long exposures on medium format film cameras is zero so I'll find out how I've done tomorrow when I pick up my processed films from Metro Imaging  (very nice people).

The Stool

This was the second 'scene' I have photographed. Yesterday I shot the scene of the Great Train Robbery. By coincidence today I found out one of the train robbers occasionally drinks in the Blind Beggar. I think this will be an exciting project!