I hope that my photographs re-imagine the ideas associated with HipHop culture. By documenting certain moments in history within Cheltenham, I aim to reveal my perspective of the people who create and lead HipHop/ music events and activities. I initially planned to photograph a select number of people (around 4 or 5) but when I created the event on Facebook to get people together for the 'Traditional photo shoot' I had more interest that I thought I would get. This meant that I had a nice little project underway and the people who could attend were the people I had in mind, for me that would complete the project.
The Lockdowns gave me and the artists I was working with time to think, time to articulate real issues and more time to put into the photographs for this project. As I was using a Large Format Camera, people just got as involved as they could, this big metal tripod with quite old equipment just staring them in the face. Just this opened up conversation about what was going on, what we were planning on doing in the future with projects and how we can communicate them across the community. It was just as helpful for me to create this photoshoot as it was for the artists to be documented during the Global Lockdown of 2020/ 2021.
After creating the photographs I have been thinking over and over how to present them, firstly I feel there needs to be more images, I only feel I have 3 or 4 satisfactory ones that can be printed and talked about meaningfully as some of them have imperfections, such as really bad framing, really bad development and fogging, some of them I just don't think captures them in their best light. But after all of this I am happy that I managed to create something rather than nothing in a time when it was very hard to just meet up with someone.
Griz-o - My favourite Rapper In Cheltenham that has a lovely warming presence, he always offers something, whether it's him showing me his new music that he has just recorded and had mastered or asking my opinion on photo/video shoot ideas for promotional material... He's always behind good ideas and loves to put his voice across to express his understanding, although he can be a bit reserved when its been a late one.
JPDL - Jean Pierre (Dave) and his Wife have recently become a father to a little boy Reggie Leongson and so much has changed since when I first met Dave about 4 years ago. He was a lot different as a person, he drank a lot of beer and had a few bad habits. Over the years we have traveled around Gloucestershire going to HipHop events, festivals, residencies, house parties and live cyphers in which I have been given access to freely photograph everything I wish with the understanding and intention of documenting a beautiful and alive culture and friendship between myself and everyone we have come across along the way. Now years later he has just had his first child, stopped smoking, cut right down on the booze and is a lot healthier mentally, he is working within Gloucestershire managing workshops and young creative events with local businesses and organisations who have the same kind of ethic as he does. Dave has been a king pin in this whole environment for me, he is someone who always welcomes you with open arms, he will jump at any idea to help bring forward photographs, plays, songs and so on, he gives ideas a chance, and has taught me to be more joyful in my craft. At first I found it hard to impress him through my photography but after a few deep conversations and showing him my projects and books, I feel that he seees my intentions and longevity when it comes to trying to reimagine the HipHop subculture of Cheltenham and Gloucestershire, the South West of the UK.