Census 2021

I was commissioned by the Office of National statistics to produce an image library reflecting the diverse people of England and Wales. The Census happens only once every 10 years, so it was vital participation was high. My photographs were used in a huge variety of ways to help encourage people to engage.

Three weeks on the road, over 1500 miles driven, creating more than 100 portraits. The aim – capturing the huge diversity of England and Wales for the 2021 Census campaign. The results of the Census help to guide decisions about public funding and how the country can best support its diverse and unique communities, so it is super important that everyone takes part.

I was really excited to be commissioned for this campaign:  it was a chance to meet, hear and capture people’s stories, documenting the vast, colourful diversity of people in this country. And what an historic year to do it in as well, circumstances like no other.

The challenge and logistics of finding and contacting the right mix of ethnicities and different communities was immense. Thankfully I had the super skilled producer Morgan Evans on my side. She lit up her network of contacts all over the country, finding people to photograph from Essex to Exmoor, and Penzance to Penarth. Before long we had a wonderful list of people to meet on our trip: farmers, shop owners, teachers, students, fans, activists, community leaders, and families.  A road trip around the country was scheduled, maps pinned and time tables drawn, we were ready to go.

In Covid times nothing is simple. We had to be certain we were keeping everyone safe. Working in as small a production bubble  as we could we hit the road – PPE at all times, temperature checks twice a day, always cleaning and washing. Although it was just three people in a van, we had everything we needed to create images on the go – photographer, assistant and producer, a portable set of lights, and large supply of snacks. We photographed entirely outside, come rain or shine, capturing the reality of Britain, all the while making sure we kept everyone we met safe and secure.

I’m so proud of the resulting image library, I like to think of it as an archive of the nation, a snap shot of Britain in the strangest of years.

Huge thanks to all the people who let us photograph them, it was a total pleasure meeting you all. Massive thanks also to the team at M&C Saatchi who got me involved in this project. And of course, endless thanks to the small but incredible shoot team. I couldn’t have done it without you guys.

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