Local Communities

Since 2019 I have been volunteering at a refill shop in a local community-owned family centre. The basic premise of this refill shop is that the customer brings their own containers to purchase goods (dried fruit, nut, flour, pasta , herbs and spices, as well as liquids for cleaning and washing) that are sold loose by weight or volume. The idea is to reduce the amount of plastic waste a household generates .

My original intention for this project was to photograph other volunteers along with a short piece about their reasons for volunteering. Of those I have had regular contact with I know that their reasons are often quite varied.

The current Covid-19 crisis has meant I was unable to visit the shop as often as I’d intended. I could justify bringing my camera along when I was actually working there, but could not visit at other times. Since I was not able to get enough photographs of different people, I have reworked the shots I have got to try and illustrate the effects on the shop of the current situation. Rather than just photographs of volunteers, I have combined those I have taken with other images.  My intention here is not straight documentary, but rather to use the combinations of images to get across the rapidity of changes to normal life.

I had been conscious of Paul Graham’s “A Shimmer of Possibility” work while working on this, and had used his project as a model for first drafts of my final piece. Feedback from fellow students has made me re-evaluate this approach and move away from the idea of presenting these as individual images, with the photographs placed in differing locations in each frame. On second viewings this seems too contrived and too obvious as a borrowing from Graham’s work. I have kept the idea of placing the images inside a larger white frame as I am happy with the way the change of position this draws the viewers eyes to the image. I have also decided to present this as a slideshow as this helps to reinforce the idea that this is a complete set, rather than a collection of disparate images.

I have positioned the photographs from the refill shop differently to those from other locations to emphasise the way that the regular routine has become disrupted.


Paul Graham Archive (s.d.) At: http://www.paulgrahamarchive.com/possibility.html (Accessed 30/03/2020).

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