Projects at the Bristol Photography Research Group (BPRG)

Find out more about our ongoing and completed projects.

Current projects

Personal Work: A Professional Perspective Symposium

Year: 2023

Project Manager: Jim Campbell  

Project Description: It is an old cliché for photographic academia to reject commodity culture as being antithetical to a creative agenda, just as it is standard practice for professional photographers to dismiss the trifles of photographic education as not engaging with the ‘real world’. This symposium will examine how self-initiated ‘personal work’ has become much more transparent and present in the commercial sphere in recent years and how this relationship can enable photographers and photography, to profit creatively as well as professionally in this new landscape. Speakers: James Gerrard-Jones, Cian Oba-Smith, Emma Bowkett and Polly Brown. 

Sustainable Darkroom Focus Group

Year: 2022-23

Project Managers: Clare Hewitt and John House

Project Description: An ongoing focus for the research group is to research and implement sustainable practices within photography. This year, we invited The Sustainable Darkroom to run a workshop and seminar for staff which looked to reduce the chemical impact of analogue photography.

Ongoing work is being led by Clare Hewitt through her personal practice and wider research into establishing an allotment space on campus with the aim to create a fully sustainable analogue process within the department.

Trauma Porn Symposium

Year: 2023

Project Manager: Jessie Edwards-Thomas 

Project Description: This symposium explored the perceptions of mental health and care in contemporary cultures. How should the responsibilities of care and mental health be shared between individuals and the state? How are the new digital environments we inhabit impacting our human experiences? Can any part of our lives not be touched by capitalism; when does the relational become transactional?

UWE X Hot Potato: It's Not All About You

Year: 2022-23 

Project Manager: John House
Project Description: Our second collaborative project with Naose O’Keefe (editor of Hot Potato News). This year's project invited students to write a project proposal that addressed ideas around political ecologies and photography. Participants were then made to swap their proposal with a partner chosen at random and work collaboratively to respond to each other's brief.
The project was run over six months and culminated in an exhibition as part of Frome Photography Festival 2023.

Past projects

Garden Stores, Hidden Labour

Year: 2014

Partners: Tyntesfield House, National Trust

Project Manager: Amanda Harman

Photographer: Amanda Harman

Project Description: This series of unintended or ‘accidental’ still lives seeks to make visible the unseen and often unsung work of the gardeners, by revealing small signs of the day-to-day. These observations seek to embody the gardener’s labours and reveal the hidden stories of the work and life of the gardens, and those who tend them.

See more about Garden Stores, Hidden Labour.

Hometown Heroes

Year: 2012- present
Partners: Bristol Metropolitan Academy, Broadlands Academy, Worle Community School, Backwell School, Downend School, and Bridge Learning Campus
Funder: The Prince’s Trust

Project Manager: Amanda Harman

Photographer: UWE Bristol Photography students

Project Description: Working with local schools, using photography to explore people that have inspired the lives of the young people.

Hidden Presence

Year: 2013-2016

Partners: Ffotogallery, Chepstow Museum, Pound Arts, Photo-Sensitive, Barnardos, Bath Records Office, Bath Black Families Support Group, Firstborn Creatives, Centre for Moving image Research, Cardiff Council, Monmouthshire Council, B&NES, Wiltshire Council, East Tytherton Heritage Project, Chippenham Museum & Heritage Centre.

Funder: Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council of Wales, Wiltshire Council, and PLaCE UWE Bristol.

Project Manager for UWE Bristol: Dr Shawn Sobers


  • Penney Ellis
  • Julian Germain
  • Eva Sajovic
  • Dr Shawn Sobers

Project Description: A creative research project exploring the presence of Black people in Britain before the 20th Century, over numerous geographic locations.

See more about Hidden Presence.

Open for Business

Year: 2015

Partners: Bristol Museums & Art Gallery and Magnum Photos

Funder: Lloyds LDC and UWE Bristol

Project Manager for UWE Bristol: Jim Campbell

Photographer: UWE Bristol Photography BA Students

Project Description: Producing images to fill gaps in the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery archives, in the category of documenting significant local businesses.

See more about Open for Business.

Out of the mouth of babes

Year: 2015

Partners: Hannah More School

Funder: UWE Bristol Research Leave

Project Manager: Dr Shawn Sobers

Photographers: UWE Bristol Photography BA students;

  • Jade Spurling
  • Sharma Everson
  • David Gilmore
  • Lilia Manninen
  • Taya Portlock
  • JoeYouens
  • Katie Dinnage

Project Description: Commissioned by Hannah More School to document a week-long off-curriculum special project which involved every child in the school. In addition to photographing the week, we interviewed the children to investigate the immediate impact the week had on the children.

See more about Out of the mouth of babes.

Santa Muerte

Year: 2015

Partners: The Photographers Gallery, Trolley Books, and Victoria Forrest

Funder: Bar Tur Photobook Award

Project Manager: Angus Fraser

Photographer: Angus Fraser

Project Description: Exploring modern day practices and iconography of the Santa Muerte religion in Mexico - a way of life that has been denounced as satanic by the Mexican Catholic Church.

See more about Santa Muerte.

The Chaos of Memory

Year: 2013

Partners: Bristol Museums & Art Gallery

Project Manager: Nick Bright

Photographer: Nick Bright

Project Description: Working with Bristol Museum & Art Gallery to document their store rooms and behind the scenes spaces.

See more about The Chaos of Memory.

Walking Interconnections

Year: 2013-2014

Partners: Bristol University Norah Fry Research Centre, University of Glasgow, UWE Bristol – Visual Culture Research Group, Sustainability Practitioners Networks and WECIL Peer Support Group.

Funder: AHRC Connected Communities

Project Manager for UWE Bristol: Dr Shawn Sobers

Photographers: Members of the WECIL Peer Support Group and sustainability practitioners;

  • Anais Leger
  • Julie Whittaker
  • Andrew Whittaker
  • Liz Crow
  • Rosalind J. Turner
  • Tom Henfrey
  • Dale Durrant
  • Raheela Raza-Syed
  • Paul Noone

Project Description: Using participatory photography, mapmaking and audio to explore the lived experience of walking and the environment for disabled people.

See more about Walking Interconnections.

Whole School Self Portraits in vernacular and YouTube aesthetics

Year: 2016

Partners: Hannah More School and Centre for Moving Image Research

UWE Bristol Research Leave

Project Manager: Dr Shawn Sobers

Photographers/filmmakers UWE Bristol Photography BA students:

  • Courtney Barnes
  • Jack Dowling
  • Lucy Durling
  • India Farman
  • Becky Hardy
  • Ella Harris
  • Karina Jacenko
  • Joelle Sayles

Project Description: Exploring how a school community choose to be represented, using music and video to overtly and covertly communicate key messages to the wider community.

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