In 2019 I co-founded a documentary photography movement with fellow photographers David Babaian, Andrew Blowers and Sagar Kharecha, with the intention of representing local stories in a strong and intimate way. The goals of our group have shifted from our founding objectives, but our heart and vision is dedicated to photographic storytelling with an emotional core. Together as New Exit Group we set out to explore what was available to us, and how we could tackle the different situations as a collective rather than individuals which is how we’re used to working.
We have recently finished work on our collaborative zine, titled BARDO: The Summer of ’20, which contains documentary work made from April to August 2020. Our curation process involved editing down from 400+ prints to just under 90 for the final sequence. That’s a lot of work to cut, but that doesn’t mean that those images were especially bad; just that they did not fit into the flow of the narrative of the zine.
Presented here are five images that did not make it into this zine, and one which did, along with a short write up about each.
This photograph was made by David Babaian on Tri-X with his 28mm Zeiss lens and M4-P. We spent a lot of time at protests, and shot as many variations on “tropes” as we did original (in our opinion) work. There will definitely be an opportunity for us to produce a zine entirely based around civil unrest, but we did not want BARDO to be entirely about protest, so many of these needed to be cut.
Another protest image, this time by Andrew Blowers, and a very minimal execution of a common sight – a protestor sat at the back of a Police van. Not an easy image to make due to the parallax found on rangefinder cameras – perfect alignment of the eye through the slit of the door would require some very precise adjustments! Andrew shot this on HP5+, and with a 50mm Zeiss Planar lens on his M4-P.
A peaceful scene shot by Sagar Kharecha in his local area of Milton Keynes. Sagar has been documenting some of the religious ceremonies which take place near the Nipponzan Myohoji, as well as other temples in the neighbourhood. This was photographed during a memorial for the nuclear strikes on Hiroshima in August. Sagar limited himself to a Nikon F2 with a 50mm 1.8 for most of the summer.
This character was a common encounter at the height of lockdown, always in the crossings at Oxford Circus, even when cars were speeding past him. I (Simon) photographed this scene on XP2, but a different angle and interpretation by Sagar Kharecha taken of the same man (who I believe is called Owen based on other interactions we’ve had since then) at a different point made it into the zine instead. The isolation here, organic and fabric based person with hand out towards the cold indifferent machines he is framed by, was what drew my attention, but Sagar’s image is much better and emphasises these themes in a clearer way.
This photograph features on the last page of our zine, and shows our shadows at the end of a long day photographing in Margate. It was taken by David Babaian on Tri-X, with his 28mm Zeiss lens and M4-P.
Thanks for taking the time to look through our work here – if you enjoyed what we’re doing, please consider checking out the zine itself, or just having a look at our website which has a little more context on what we’re trying to achieve through film-based documentary photography. You can also reach out to us on Instagram!