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Photography student's images of journalists at work go on display - in Australia

Jennifer Forward-Hayter at her exhibition in Australia <i>(Image: Jennifer Forward-Hayter)</i>
Jennifer Forward-Hayter at her exhibition in Australia (Image: Jennifer Forward-Hayter)

An Australian art gallery has displayed the work of a photography student from Dorset.

Jennifer Forward-Hayter, from Motcombe near Shaftesbury, has spent the last year documenting journalists working under enormous pressure.

The images featured at a solo exhibition, called Larrikin, at the TAP Gallery in Sydney during November.

She describes her work as cruel, upsetting and funny and is ‘immensely proud’ to have her work put on display for the public to see.

She said: “Someone once told me my portfolio looked like a hit list, full of ugly people.

“Within art, the theory of the grotesque is not as offensive as it seems, it just means the outside meeting the inside.

“It’s a sprinkling of my recent adventures with leading journalists across war zones, government disasters, and royal funerals, featuring a mix of portraiture and documentary,”

“Journalism is still a really under-reported story.

“Most big journalists write an autobiography, but they never cover the whole process; the overwhelming chaos of choosing between doing a podcast or going to a warzone to die, for the same job, and why both can be equally important.”

Jennifer says she refuses to apply for a press card when working, preferring to shoot at close-range with a flash.

“I did this to keep me on the outside. The process of being photographed – even discreetly – is really unnatural, and I like drawing attention to the uncomfortableness I get as reactions. I’ve been headbutted twice whilst taking pictures.”

“I’ve often gone to communities I’m not, or never would be a part of.

“Ugly people have better stories. And people with better stories make better pictures.”

Dorset Echo: Jennifer Forward-Hayter images have been displayed at a gallery in Sydney
Dorset Echo: Jennifer Forward-Hayter images have been displayed at a gallery in Sydney

Jennifer Forward-Hayter images have been displayed at a gallery in Sydney (Image: Jennifer Forward-Hayter)

Jennifer is a master’s student at Middlesex University and documenting journalists was a core theme of her studies. For one of her modules, she contacted Australian satirists The Chaser.

She added: “They run the oldest, still running satirical media organisation in the world, and I spent a month documenting their process.”

“Australia is unique in the history and continued development of journalism. It’s still a remote, isolated island, with an intensely concentrated media ownership. As an extra fourth estate, satirists have to not only react to journalists, but become better in order to mock.”

Despite never telling people when she was going to turn up, Jennifer was given access to budget meetings, delicate pitch writing, and computer screens.

“I especially liked capturing the journalists walking around the office – normally a quick dash from desk to kitchen,” she said.

“It was like shooting someone who’d finally taken a peek above a parapet, and they became vulnerable.”

After showing her images to the organiser of a local photo festival whilst in Australia, she was invited to appear as a solo exhibition.

She said: “Australia has a different relationship to portrait photography, and historically favours landscapes, so to be able to capture these very human reactions, and really visualise that, is really special.

“The reaction to my work was amazing.”

Jennifer, also spoke about her hopes and plans for the future which remains firmly planted in photography and her master’s degree.

She continued: “I would like to continue using photography as an excuse to be places I shouldn’t.”

“There’s a hundred more small snippets of life, and photographers can push to the front to experience these.”