Paul lives in Brighton and has been photographing since 2000, mainly freelance. His passion is exhibiting fine art photography and as he particularly likes walking, he bases a lot of his work around long adventures geared towards the experimental and literature styles of photographing. Joining a Raleigh expedition is something Paul has wanted to do for a long time as he describes becoming, “Tired of the commercial element of my work, so coming out here I really wanted to develop skills in photographing portraiture and social documentary – it’s a totally new type of photography for me which is really exciting.”
A big aspect of Paul’s job is being deployed into the action of the Raleigh projects; during his professional assignments outside Raleigh expedition, he actively prepares his approach with diligent reading and researching of the work, on expedition he explains, “It’s getting stuck in and photographing things as they unfold. Primarily it’s about human relationships, meeting people and seeing where that leads and seeing where the interesting pictures come from in those interactions.” On the youth leadership trek phase, the environment changes dramatically every day, moving through it as a group and supporting each other, consequently developing relationships that lead to more photographs.
A fundamental part of the youth leadership phase is youth development, and even in the first days of the trek, it is notable for building confidence daily. Volunteers who will initially be reluctant to assume a leadership position, will observe the days where their counterparts will set the example, thus motivating them to step up and make their leadership turn their own. As Paul recounts, “A lot of them may be young and just come out of college, or thinking about going to university and they’re in this extreme environment, unlike anywhere they’ve ever been before, and suddenly they’re leading a group of peers through these landscapes; you can see it is empowering them.”
Bringing back a strong portfolio which will showcase another dimension to his photography is certainly one aspect of personal development that has brought Paul to Tanzania, but questioning his motives further, it became clear that Paul’s rhetoric is intrinsically within the heart of the Raleigh ethos, “My photography has brought me to lots of really nice places but by myself, and I really wanted some kind of big adventure that is beneficial to others, use my skills in a positive way for other people, but do it as part of a team. Learning those skills and being part of a team is something I’ve really got out of Raleigh.”
From his experience, Paul sees photographers as generally isolated, autonomous people and not really working as part of a team, but he equally loves the ultra social part of the expedition work, being sent to an event and having the artistic control to make decisions on how best to capture it, “I think that’s really pushed me. Its constantly that feeling that you have to be at a higher standard because it is representative of who I am as a photographer”, he imparts.
Paul will be returning to the UK to work alongside a collective exhibiting in Milton Keynes as part of a bid for city of culture. Admitting that life commitments back home not impeding, he would volunteer again, he concluded with some advice for future photographers, “Embrace it and find your own way – don’t rely on anyone else, get stuck in and enjoy it because it goes really fast.”
Words by Miguel. Images by Paul and Miguel (featured image).