A World Apart (Concept Book)

Originally the main concept for this project was to explore the differences around what people from different cultural backgrounds find valuable to them in their day-to-day lives. The idea was to involve a number of participants from two countries and with differing social backgrounds. I wanted to present these comparisons as a book incorporating a visual medium such as photography, mostly because I have a strong interest in photojournalism, but also because I wanted people to see the end result without being told what conclusions they should draw from the comparisons made within the project. I wanted the audience to be able to have their own “uncoloured” opinions about the differences between people’s perceptions of value, without me dictating to them my thoughts, opinions or conclusions.

Although I had initially wanted this project to be purely based around photos, the project had to be adjusted mid-way through due to some issues. These photo diaries were to be put together as a book in such a way that would allow readers to make their own comparisons between the values of the participating people. I chose ten participants (broken into five from Taiwan and five from the United Kingdom) based on criteria I had set out at the beginning of the project, and gave each of them a disposable film camera and approximately two weeks to take photos of things that were valuable to them in their daily lives.

As the project progressed, I came across some unforeseen problems which meant that I had to make an adjustment to the direction of the project. Instead of basing the project around the participants’ photos, I decided to base it around the participants themselves. I also changed the topic from being about what each participant considers being valuable, to instead being about allowing them to tell the story of their daily lives. I still wanted to use the participants’ photos as the main visual format but decided to supplement the photos with written biographies for each person, along with a supplementary short film portraying interviews with them. I decided to take this direction as I thought it would provide a bigger canvas with which the participants could express themselves, and their lives in more detail.

As a secondary idea for the project I had decided to use disposable cameras in order to make a contrast with how people in the modern era value the physicality of printed photographs much less than people did in past decades. Now, people often take tens or even hundreds of photos each week, many of which are never looked at again, using convenient and easy to use devices such as smartphones. By limiting the participants’ use of equipment to just a disposable camera, containing a single 27 photo roll of film, they were forced to really think about what they were taking photos of.

The project took approximately 9 months to complete, with the final stages of writing, editing, and designing the book taking 4 weeks.

You can view the completed PDF version of the book, along with the supplementary video below.