Abbie - © Mhairi Bell Moodie
This week theprintspace’s Harry Rose speaks with Mhairi Bell Moodie about her graduation project, FLUX for TRAJECTROY.
Hi Mhairi. Tell me about yourself and your photographic style
When I turned 27, I felt the sudden urge to “do something”. I'd spent the previous few years travelling the globe, which was great, but I lacked direction or purpose. I hoped that by training to become a professional photographer, I could continue to do what I loved doing by turning it into a career. My curiosity of people and places made documentary photography a natural path for me and this is reflected in both my personal and professional work. No matter the subject, I try to photograph with honesty and without judgement.
What was the inspiration / motivation behind the project?
This project was inspired by the 16 and 17 year olds who took part in the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum. For the first time, they had the right to vote and they made their voices heard. We could no longer call the Scottish youth apathetic or disaffected. What else, I wondered, might the country's young people be passionate about? What ambitions would they have, what challenges would they face? I wanted to show young people in a positive light, trying to move away from the overly used negative stereotypes.
Tell us more about the themes and images in your project. Which image/s are your favourite in the series and why?
My favourite portraits are those which celebrate diversity. Kaden and Charles were both so open about their gender and sexuality, while Abbie and Kaitlyn were equally as forthcoming about their physical and mental health issues. It's understandably difficult to have the confidence to speak up about anything at that age, but to do so publicly, and with a camera shoved in your face, that's brave. I see the nothing but strength in their portraits.
Your portraits are very intimate. How did you go about finding these extraordinary people?
I contacted several local schools, youth groups and charities with a request for participants. I wasn't sure what kind of response I'd get and I couldn't quite believe it when people started emailing me with all of their fears and ambitions. I was concerned about getting parental permission, but thankfully all of the families involved were very supportive and happy to help. Without them, the project simply wouldn't have been possible and I'm very grateful for their contributions.
What has your experience been like at Edinburgh College studying photography? Have there been any tutors / experiences that have had a particularly profound impact during your time there?
It's been an incredibly challenging three years. I've learned more about photography – and myself – than I could ever have imagined. The tutors have been brilliant. They worked us hard, but they were right to. It made us better photographers. It's quite scary to be leaving the safety net of college, but I think I feel ready to.
Tell us about your future plans as a recently graduated creative?
As well as our graduate shows in Edinburgh and London, I'm also exhibiting with Retina Scottish International Photography Festival in July as part of the Emerging Talent exhibition. And I've another exhibition planned for later in the year, so that's keeping me busy! I'm going to continue with some other projects I've been working on recently and then see where that takes me. I'm really excited for whatever happens next!