Festival Speaker : Saturday 14th October, 3pm
Roger was born in the South Wales valleys in 1960 in a small former mining village called Crosskeys. After completing Secondary School in 1976, he went on to study for A Levels at the local tertiary college. Not being the ideal student, as he wanted to be a drummer in a rock band, the head of department threatened to throw him out.
The only way to save the situation was to sign on a new A Level Photography course, as the tutor was desperate for students. This was the beginning of an extraordinary journey. After successfully completing his A Level studies Roger gained an apprenticeship as an industrial photographer for a large car components company. It was not the area of photography he wanted to pursue, and after four years, in 1982, he decided to leave to study on the Documentary Photography course, under Magnum photographer, David Hurn.
Whilst on the course, Roger felt it important to document the mining communities he grew up in. As miners and their families were only too happy to help him with his project, he expanded his work to cover many areas in the south Wales valleys, including the Rhondda and Cynon valleys.
As the 1984/85 miners’ strike hit the news, Rogers photographs began to get published in national and international publications. This period of his work built a foundation, as many of the subjects he has covered since are strongly linked to industrial communities.
Almost thirty-nine years on, Roger still has a strong passion, using the excuse of photography, to meet people and witness their lives and also to travel to places he would not normally go, unless it was for the excuse of taking photographs.
Roger’s talk will cover two recently completed commissioned bodies of work and two ongoing personal projects.
Kellingley Colliery, north Yorkshire was commissioned by Keo Films, London (BBC factual), to document the last weeks before the closure of the last deep coal mine in the UK. Roger was given full access to the pit; on the surface and underground. Facing extreme heat and humidity on the coal face, which was half a mile down and a journey some seven miles in, it proved to be a technical and creative challenge to capture life of a very special breed of men.
Although he’s photographed on many coal faces in the past; both in the USA and UK, it was the first time Roger used a digital camera underground.
Keo extended his commission after the pit closed to follow the lives of some of the men looking for new work up until the 2016 Durham Miners’ Gala. The series was made into a hard cover book which sold out within a month.
LGBT, a personal project examining the many areas of the gay, lesbian and transgender communities. This project began fairly recently when Roger was invited to photograph the members of the ‘LGBT Support the Miners’ group, as they revisited the Dulais valley some thirty years on from the 1984/85 miners’ strike, as portrayed in the film ‘Pride.’
During the strike, Roger was warned by NUM officials not to photograph the LGBT involvement with the miners. It’s been one of his biggest regrets.
The LGBT project is a long term documentation, covering a wide and diverse subject which will be published in a book.
Back in Time, a personal project capturing the people who take part in living history. It’s a fascinating subject where people re-live moments in history and share their passion with the general public. Roger began this project back in the early 1990s and hopes to complete it soon; but it’s one that he keep adding to!
Crisis Skylight, Recently commissioned by the homeless charity to celebrate their fiftieth anniversary. Working with Crisis staff and members, Roger made portraits printed on photocopy paper tiles and placed them in the landscape where member were or still are sleeping rough. Members were also invited to write text indicating their feeling during the past and their ambitions for the future.