A photography student from Hartlepool on his final year of his degree at Cleveland College of Art and Design (CCAD), has won the chance to have his portfolio reviewed by some of the leading industry professionals.
Danny Day, 32, originally from Wakefield, submitted a series of images from his final major project to the Association for Photography in Higher Education (APHE) Photo Meet Bursary. He was one of only three UK degree and masters students in the country selected through the competitive process to win the bursary and attend the high level Portfolio Review event in London. Those offering their expertise included picture editor from Times Magazine, FT Magazine and Guardian Weekend Magazine, as well as Esquire Magazine, Wallpaper Magazine and Vogue UK.
A fine art documentary photographer, Danny created a series of images providing a personal perspective on the experience of eye sight. He uses his camera to question the meaning and purpose of sight as he lost sight in one eye as a child, and in his 20’s had the same eye removed, to be left with one, short sighted eye. However, he chooses to embrace this impairment, and recognises the benefits of being able to see the world through one eye. As he finds difficulty with colour, perceiving it as an overwhelming force on his vision, this is reflected in his style; high contrast black and white images.
The images aim to present the difficulty of sight; processed in black and white, to signify the problem of comprehending and accepting a world bathed in an overwhelming array of colour. The work also considers the emotional differences between darkness and light. Each image has been captured at night and the camera, and its powerful sensor, was used to bring light into a world engulfed by darkness, with the images aiming to question the gift of sight.
This year’s APHE Photo Meet saw an excellent standard of applications and all work was commended by the judging panel, which had a difficult job choosing the final three recipients
Danny said: “I was very surprised when I found out I was selected! I submitted my work from my final major project which, at the time, I didn’t feel overly confident about, so to be chosen for a bursary based on my current work was a great confidence boost.
“At the review I learned a lot about how to communicate my work to industry professionals. In the first few reviews, I didn’t feel I’d done this very well at the beginning, but learned from my mistakes and was able to develop an introduction to myself and my work. I now feel a lot more confidence in my ability to introduce my work as well as talk about it in depth.
“The most enjoyable part of the experience was seeing and hearing these industry professionals respond subjectively to my work. This was both insightful and fascinating – on a personal and professional level. It was also interesting to see exactly what contemporary photographers ‘look like’, I spent a lot of time ‘people watching’ – curious at how they dress, how they present themselves and the language they use. As a photography student, this in itself was fascinating.”
Danny has just finished producing his final major project as part of the photography degree at the university-level campus in Hartlepool, which further explores the issues of light and dark.
“My final major project is titled ‘The Gift of Sight’, which aims to challenge this very gift by providing a personal perspective on the experience and difficult of eye sight. It considers the problem of a world bathed in colour, but also the issue of detail, asking the viewer to consider how much of the world we really ‘need’ to see. In doing so, the emotional differences between darkness and light are reflected upon. The text I’ve provided with each image tells a story of personal confliction – a push and pull struggle between what I want to see, and what I chose to see, but perhaps more importantly, what I don’t want to see, and what I don’t need to see.
“As this project is about sight, I’ve tried to create a body of work that’s accessible to those of various degrees of sight. This involved producing framed prints with purposefully small text for those with very good sight – a large print book with large bold text for those who are short sighted. This would allow such people to get very close to the images and text if their eye sight requires it.
“Finally, I’ve produced photographs with braille printed directly onto them for those who are registered blind and can read braille, therefore not excluding them from being able to access and experience the work. The idea being, that although they cannot see the photographs, they can still interact with them by using the braille to read the story. If perhaps they are curious of the content of the image, then a person with sight would be able to provide further information by looking at either the framed prints or the large print photobook.
Talking about the upcoming degree show at the specialist art and design college, Danny said: “I’m very excited, as this will be the first time I’ve created work with the intention of exhibition in mind. I’m looking forward to seeing how people respond and react with it, especially with regards to the photographs with braille, as I’ve found that even sighted people are curious. I want people to feel free to pick these up, interact with them, and get involved with them.”
Following graduation, Danny fully intend to continue photography within a fine art context, and to find an outlet for his work. Although interested in exhibiting work, he is fascinated in photography that has the power to change perspective on a much more personal and emotional level, and with an interest in art therapy, he is considering working with charities too.
Jill Cole, Lecturer in Photography at CCAD, said: “Danny’s meticulous approach to research, his commitment to narrative and his ongoing hard work are paying off and the award was very well deserved.”
Richard Mulhearn from the APHE said: “We are very pleased for Danny, to be selected for Photo meet is a significant achievement, and he clearly enjoyed and got a great deal from the experience. This event is one of the most important gathering of contemporary photographers, editors and commissioners in the UK and further afield.
“It is our aspiration for this award to provide the students, from our institutional members, with a transformational experience to help break down and demystify the profession in order to guide them into a future successful career. It is a real indication of the potential in Danny’s work and the quality of the BA (Hons) Photography course at CCAD who are providing great opportunities for their students – well done to all.”
As part of the APHE Bursary, Danny was interviewed for the #whatsonyourmind series of online talks and his work is now featured on the APHE website, which can be viewed at http://aphe.ac.uk/photography/winners-of-this-years-aphe-photo-meet-bursary/
Danny follows in the successful footsteps of photography alumni Jessica Petty, who won the APHE Bursary in 2015 and went on to create her own photography business in Middlesbrough, exhibiting at the Hull international Photography Festival in 2016.
His work can be viewed as part of CCAD’s degree show, Northern Collective, from Friday 2nd June until Saturday 10th June.