Towards the end of my second year at University I was struggling with what I wanted to create for my Final Major Project (dissertation equivalent). I knew I wanted to create something new and unique, not just a magazine. I spent a long time waiting for that lightbulb moment. A friend of mine (Chels) showed me the Humans of New York Instagram page after a park date and I fell in love. As a lover of people, photography and life stories I instantly connected with it. It was the perfect way to mix my love of photography and learning about people. It didn’t hurt that this way I could get away with doing less written work myself.
It took me a while to find a unique angle, I did not in any way want to copy Humans of New York. I wanted to create something that still allowed me to interview people and photograph them. As a Londoner living in Southampton at the time I knew London was a lot busier and more popular than Southampton and it would be easier for me to find a wider range of people due to the diverse areas. Being a young person meant I understood how it felt being sometimes misunderstood and over looked due to my age. I thought brilliant - that’s what i’ll do, interview young people in London. As a visual person I still wanted more content in the book and wanted to find a way to keep young people entertained when reading. I decided to include art-work, illustrations and poetry to break up the interviews.
I ran around London with Jess and Imane interviewing people from best friends who met buying drugs to a young mum worried about having to move out of her flat. I wanted it to be raw and real but equally I didn’t want it to showcase just negativity. I was sure to include a mix of high and low quotes in the final book.
I have now completed my Final Major Project and have graduated from University with a 2:1. I was overall so pleased with the outcome of my book and cannot wait to do more interviews and complete it. I am so happy it is summer and I now have a new camera and a lot of free time to go out and interview people.Here are a few snippets of the book, I hope you enjoy and if you would like to get involved in this project then feel free to message or email me.
Shay RS x
“If you could change one thing about this world what would it be?”
“I would say war because I come from Sri Lanka and I experienced it myself. It was very hard.”
“What was it like?”
“Constantly getting stopped at every check point to see who you are. My last name DeSilva is not a typical Sri Lankan name and my mum didn’t change her surname when she got married so she still had her Hindu name. The war was between the Tamils and the Sinhalese people who were the majority of the people who lived in Sri Lanka. My mum had one name and me and my dad had a different name so they way they treated her and the way they treated us was completely different. All of the Tamil people had nose piercings so they could easily be identified anyway, they would treat you like you were a terrorist.”
“How did that make you feel?”
“Horrible because I couldn’t do anything to help her I felt helpless.”
“How are young people in London different to young people in Sri Lanka”
“I don’t want to say bad parenting but sometimes it does come down to that. I saw a major difference when I came in the way that people behave and speak to people, especially to their parents. If I spoke to my mum the way how these kids do, it wouldn’t be good. I guess it’s just down to the parents and the way they want to bring up their children because if you are taught to do things that aren’t ok, you will do them.”
“In my 1st year of uni I participated in oral sex for money. It was the quickest and easiest money i’ve ever made but i’ve never felt so used in my life. It was then that I realised that my body wasn’t worth any amount of money. I now know how valuable I am.”
“I’m passionate about my art. I started drawing when I was young but I didn’t enjoy it until A Levels, then I took it seriously. I try to portray growing up in South London in my work. All of the issues that we as South London girls and boys go through.”
“What kind of issues?”
“Like, the kind of trouble guys can get into at school. Gang crime, selling drugs – it’s kind of normal for the guys around here. Also teenage pregnancy.”
Thank you for reading xxx