London photographer celebrates our migrating Brits in Brits Abroad exhibition

October 13, 2015

Featured today on our blog is photographer @charlieclift, whose project Brits Abroad is launching in an exhibition tonight! Read on to find out more about his project:

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I’m a portrait photographer, and for the last four years I have been based in London. People are my thing: whether it’s dangling a CEO upside down, getting shouted at by a political leader, wading up to my chest in floodwaters or pouring pints for dogs – I am always trying to capture a bit of the personality in front of me. As well as regular commissioned work for a number of clients such as The Sunday Times Magazine, The Independent, AXA, Help for Heroes and Samsung, I also make sure to shoot plenty of personal work to always improve my photography.

I started taking pictures, lots of them, and got hooked. It was when I had been really low at University and needed some time off for myself. I took a year out, bought a camera and started experimenting. I went back to uni, played with any equipment I could borrow and photographed anyone who would let me. I taught myself by making lots of mistakes as fast as possible. When the dreaded end of my life as a student was looming, I decided to take a plunge and become a photographer – what better time for risk than when you have no real responsibilities or commitments?

It all came out from the frustration with the immigration debate in the UK. Despite immigrants enriching our culture and economy (do look it up!), there seems to be plenty of negativity surrounding them; but Brits are migrants too! We just sometimes forget it.

Brits Abroad is a reminder of that. It shows what life is like for those who leave Britain to live abroad. I wanted migrants to seem more human: as a Brit myself I chose not to focus on immigrants into the UK but to look the other way and focus on British people who are living abroad. So I photographed emigrants in Spain, capturing images that show these people in locations key to their lives. Some cannot speak Spanish and have hardly integrated with the locals, whilst others have married Spanish people and educated their children in local schools. It’s fascinating to dive into these people’s lives and try to capture that in photographs.

I’m inspired by so many things; I listen to a lot of funk, rock and jazz music, watch many films and I’m always looking at images. In particular I’m inspired by people who tell visual stories in a different or quirky way. For example I love Martin Schoeller’s photographs, he has such a great sense of humour that shines through in so much of his photography, yet at the same time his images say so much about their subjects. I’m also a big fan of Wes Anderson’s films, his visual style is so unique and so fun, it grabs the viewer and draws them in.

My Brits Abroad project will be launching tonight at 12 Star Gallery in London. The exhibition is free to attend, and open from 10am-6pm Monday to Friday. If you want to join me for the private view then please do come along on Tuesday 13th and ask me anything you would like to about the project.

Address: 12 Star Gallery, 32 Smith Square, London SW12 0DF
Preview: 13th October 2015, 6:30-8:30pm.
Open: 14th-23rd October 2015, 10am-6pm, Monday-Friday.

I’m currently contacting people all over Europe to expand the project. With the EU referendum coming up I am really keen to show the variety of lifestyles that Europe has to offer and draw the British gaze outside of our own borders. So many people move abroad, from all backgrounds and all age groups. I want to show this even more when I expand the project. I currently have about 20 people in 6 different countries signed up, but the planning is still in progress. I can’t wait to tell many more interesting stories with my camera. There is also a project on addictions and one on tea and … I could keep going!

 Charlie Clift | | @charlieclift 


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