Portrait Salon exhibition January 2014

Following on from the success of the Document Scotland Portrait Salon event at Stills Gallery in Edinburgh – we are delighted that the first ever printed Portrait Salon exhibition will take place from January 10th 2014 at new venue FUSE Art Space in Bradford.

The exhibition features a cross section of the best contemporary portrait photographers from around the world and, we’re very pleased to say,  includes an image by Document Scotland’s Sophie Gerrard.

Sophie’s image was taken in Yangon, Myanmar last year.

“This photograph was taken one morning very early whist going for a walk around the colonial areas of Yangon, Myanmar. As I’ve seen in many asian cities, locals get up early, avoiding the heat of the day, and do their exercises in public. In Yangon was no different, I was there during the monsoon, it was incredibly hot and humid, early morning breezes were a lucky catch first thing in the day, and most people made for the water front. People’s exercises weren’t restricted to parks and open spaces in this part of town, many people simply found a spot on the pavement, set down their radio and started their routines. This man completely ignored me as a took a few frames with my medium format camera. I sought eye contact the whole time, with a smile ready and a gesture to ask – can I take your photo? But he stared straight ahead, never moving his head, transfixed on a point in the distance, slowly lifting and bending his legs, one after the other, listening to the crackling and high pitched squealing music coming out of his radio.”


A man does his morning exercises at 5am, with his radio through the streets of downtown Yangon, Myanmar.  © Sophie Gerrard, all rights reserved.

A man does his morning exercises at 5am, with his radio in downtown Yangon, Myanmar.
© Sophie Gerrard, all rights reserved.


“Just shortly after taking this peaceful image, after walking a little further, I came across a group of elderly women doing tai chi on an overpass over a busy main road, whilst busy commuter buses trundled past underneath, belching out black fumes. They smiled and waved at me as I took their pictures. Everyone had a smile, even as another bus roared past and we all coughed away the fumes. The squeaky little radio kept singing, and the old ladies kept moving. Funny place to do Tai Chi I thought. Funny place to take photographs they might have thought.”

Tai Chi on an overpass in downtown Yangon © Sophie Gerrard all rights reserved

Tai Chi on an overpass in downtown Yangon
© Sophie Gerrard all rights reserved

Early morning exercises on Inya Lake, Yangon, Myanmar © Sophie Gerrard all rights reserved

Early morning exercises on Inya Lake, Yangon, Myanmar
© Sophie Gerrard all rights reserved


Portrait Salon 2013 at Fuse

Opening party: Friday 10th January 2014, 7pm
Exhibition: 10th January 2014 – 8th March 2014
Artist talk: Saturday 15th February 2014, 3pm

Almost 1,000 images from 330 photographers were entered into Portrait Salon 2013, with the final 42 images chosen by three judges: photographer Abbie Trayler-Smith, Harry Hardie from HERE Press, and Jim Stephenson from Miniclick Talks. The result is a fascinating illustration of the diverse challenges associated with good portraiture.


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Sophie Gerrard joins Document Scotland

Document Scotland is delighted to announce that photographer Sophie Gerrard will be joining us as a core member with immediate effect.

Gupta’s home, Pyareapur, Siwan, Bihar, India © Sophie Gerrard, all rights reserved..

Edinburgh-born Sophie is gaining a growing reputation for her work, both in Scotland and further afield. As well as working as an editorial photographer for many of the London-based broadsheet newspapers and magazines, Sophie has initiated and carried out longer-term projects, most notably her essay on the controversial Donald Trump development at the Menie Estate near Aberdeen entitled ‘The Dunes.’

This work, which appears as Foto8‘s Story of the Week this week, combines Sophie’s passion for environmental issues and classic documentary visual storytelling, as she explained to Document Scotland: “I have always been passionate about the work that I have done and keep coming back to environmental stories. When I returned after being away from Scotland for a few years, I went looking for a personal project to work on. The Trump story was the biggest environmental story out there, so it felt like a perfect fit.”

Sophie began her research in to the story in summer 2011 and by the autumn was making her first trip north. As she explains, the project had humble beginnings: “I actually spent the first night on the beach, sleeping in the car. At first, I just made landscape photographs but through my work I made contact with the Tripping Up Trump organisation, which in turn lead me to the people connected to the story. I’m a people photographer and I believe that what makes us interested in environmental issues are the people who are affected by them.” Less than a year later and the images from Menie were first published in the Independent on Sunday magazine, a striking combination of people and landscape, to which Sophie has since added interviews and audio.

This passion for environmental stories can be traced all the way back to Sophie’s initial post-school education, as she explains: “My first degree was in environmental sciences, which I studied at Manchester. After working in the field I began travelling and always had my camera with me. It was on a trip to Vietnam that I became fascinated in the power of photography after seeing the ‘Requiem’ exhibition at the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City. I was captivated by the power of those photographs and the thought that photography could change the way people thought about a subject.” From there it was a natural step to combining passion for the environment and interest in photography.

Sanjoga’s Suitcase, Tehra, Bihar, India © Sophie Gerrard, all rights reserved.

Sophie’s formal education in photography began thereafter at Edinburgh College of Art and continued at the London College of Communication, where she started to find her own visual style and honed her approach. Almost immediately after graduating from LCC with an MA in Documentary Photography and Photojournalism, Sophie found herself in India, working for NGOs and on personal projects in Bihar, one of the country’s poorest states. Over a three-and-a-half year period, she spent up to five months at a time documenting the charity’s work on poverty reduction. Again, her people-centred approach won admiration and in the periods between trips to India, Sophie built up a network of editorial clients in the UK, including shooting several assignments for Geographical magazine in diverse and challenging locations, such as Mexico and Guatemala..

By the summer of this year, Asia was again on Sophie’s horizons as she began a collaborative project with an artist, spending time in Burma focusing on a particular aspect of the country’s past. The process of working together with another person or people seemed like a logical next step, as Sophie recalls: “Collaborative working is very attractive to me. The work I did in Burma was with an artist and I could immediately see the benefits of working closely with someone whose perspective was different to mine. The conversations we had and the support we gave each other were very important and beneficial.”

And so from Burma to home and the prospect of working with Document Scotland. As Sophie puts it: “I am very busy at the moment splitting my time between London and Scotland. I have recently started teaching on the degree course at Napier University and am putting together ideas for future projects, as well as working for editorial clients. Joining Document Scotland feels right for me at this time. It’s about putting in place a long-term plan. It’s also about having that support network around you and a team of people to bounce ideas off. Last – and by no means least – it’s about contributing to an exciting new initiative at an intriguing time for Scotland and documentary photography here.”

Welcome to Document Scotland, Sophie, we’re looking forward to working with you.


Sophie Gerrard will be showcasing her work this coming Sunday, 11th November at Slideluck Miniclick at Brighton Photo Fringe, 12:30pm-4:00pm at the Green Door Store, Brighton. Free entry.





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