The Art of Getting By – an exhibition


I’m delighted to announce that my exhibition – The Art of Getting By – will open the 8th Jersey Amnesty International Human Rights Festival where I’ll be doing some teaching and workshops.


India – Delhi – A mentally ill man kisses his wife who visits him in the secure ward at the Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences


The French, as always have a word for it. Débrouillardise. The art of getting by – resourcefulness – surviving and laughing. I heard it first in French Africa in the ‘90s and I realised that I have been trying over the last two decades (even before I really knew the word) to make it a motif in the reportage that I made in even the most difficult circumstances. It is no less than the human condition – why shouldn’t the poor, the maimed, the brutalised somehow steal a smile, fall in love? A determination to live. To be normal. To be just like us.

These images are not romantic – although I hope that some are beautiful – rather they reflect the everyday struggles of common people. They also aren’t meant as rosy depictions of poverty from an outsider and they aren’t meant to patronise. I have worked consistently in the Developing World for most of my career and that was a choice made from the low horizons of my own childhood and the desire to escape the grey landscape of a Hackney past.

I consciously sought difference but found similarity and common ground.

These images are taken from stories from many countries. They show people touched by war and poverty living as best they can. They are small stories from larger narratives and by and large show small lives but they are no less important for that.

For me, this is a kind of retrospective: photographs of what I have tried to see – sometimes forced myself to see – to remember that the world is not dark, dangerous and other, but that it is beautiful and full of life.

You just have to know where to look.


My enormous thanks to Stuart Smith for curating and Metro for printing






It’s with great sadness that I read of the destruction of parts of Aleppo in the fighting that has engulfed Syria. Tragically, the Souk, a World Heritage site, has been badly damaged. It is almost ten years to the day that I photographed Aleppo on assignment for British Airways Highlife Magazine. I liked Aleppo – and indeed Syria – very much. The Baron Hotel was then a decaying but beautiful nod to a more glamourous and decadent past while the Souk was dark, mysterious and wonderful. I still have a bar of olive oil soap from a stall there and as I smell it now, Aleppo comes back to me.



Syria – Aleppo – The view into Aleppo from the Citadel


Syria – Aleppo – Men walk though the ancient Souk in Aleppo


Syria – Aleppo – A woman in the Souk


Syria – Aleppo – A boy working on a stall in the Souk


Syria – Aleppo – Two men in a hammam in the Souk


Syria – Aleppo – The Citadel reflected in a shop window


Syria – Aleppo – A man walks the narrow alleyways behind the Souk, darkness bisected by pools of brilliant sunlight


Syria – Aleppo – A waiter carries drinks into the bar of the Baron Hotel, a favourite haunt of stars and politicians of the early twentieth century