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Polly Braden on Photographing the Streets and its People

By 13th December 2021April 27th, 2023No Comments

Photographer Polly Braden talks about approaches to photography, collaboration and her latest series

As part of the Hundred Heroines’ Glostorama! project, in which the people of Gloucester are invited to document every street in the city using their cameras, Polly Braden joined art historian and Learning and Participation Coordinator, Vanessa Ansa to discuss street photography. 
They discussed approaches to storytelling, alongside some of the challenges inherent in photographing urban spaces and the people who populate them.

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About Polly Braden

Polly Braden is a documentary photographer whose work features an ongoing conversation between the people she photographs and the environment in which they find themselves.

Highlighting the small, often unconscious gestures of her subjects, Polly particularly enjoys long-term, in depth collaborations that in turn lends her photographs a unique, quiet intimacy.

Polly has produced a large body of work that includes not only solo exhibitions and magazine features, but most recently five books: Adventures in the Lea Valley (Hoxton Mini Press, 2016), Great Interactions: Life with Learning Disabilities and Autism (Dewi Lewis Publishing, 2016), Out of the Shadows: The Untold Story of People with Autism or Learning Disabilities (Dewi Lewis Publishing, 2018) alongside writer Sally Williams, London’s Square Mile: A Secret City (Hoxton Mini Press, 2019.) with writing by David Kynaston and A Place for me. 50 Stories of Finding Home (Dewi Lewis Publishing, 2021).


The conversation and Polly’s 2021 exhibition

Polly and Vanessa considered some of the differences between capturing streets and photographing people, and opened up some of the ethical questions that arise from these practices.

Within the recorded talk, Polly discussed her new body of photographic work, Holding the Baby, which portrays intimate stories of the strength and resilience of seven single parent families in the face of austerity.

Their portraits are accompanied by revealing and tender excerpts from interviews with the women, conducted by journalist Sally Williams, alongside reflective words from a wider group of single parents instigated by writer Claire-Louise Bennet, and data from statistician Rob Minto outlining the daunting reality of what it means to be a single parent in the UK today.

The work was originally shown at Museum of the Home, London before moving to Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool. The final instalment opened at the Arnolfini, Bristol on 19th February 2021.

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