Carlton // © Keith Lloyd Davenport
Keith Lloyd Davenport
The Story behind the Portrait
When I first met Carlton, I was getting to know overseas fishermen for my project Mare Liberum – Freedom of the Seas.
Over the last 15 years or so, many Filipino fishermen have migrated to Scotland to work on the trawlers. According to numerous skippers, these hard working seafarers are now the backbone of the industry, with many reporting they would be unable to set sail without them. Mare Liberum – Freedom of the Seas explores and documents this cultural and socially historic transition in the Scottish fishing industry, focusing particularly on the North East coast where I grew up.
I boarded the trawler Carlton works on after I had been up to the church with Jenover, his friend and crewmate. Judging by Carlton’s reaction as I entered the galley, and encountered him cooking rice and fish wearing only his shorts, he was surprised and suspicious of my presence.
I knew instantly I had to make a portrait with him. There was a commanding presence about Carlton that was slightly intimidating, but there was a pastoral air about him too, in the way his friends and fellow crewmen behaved around him. I had a feeling that he was a man whose life was the sea.
We all sat down to breakfast and got chatting about his interesting seafaring life which began as a child, free-diving to lay and untangle nets on the seabed. We shared stories about times at sea, and I shared why I was making a documentary project about fishing and the people working in the industry in the north of Scotland.
A few days later, Jenover messaged me to come to the boat as Carlton wanted me to make his portrait. Carlton was there waiting for me. I was very pleased about this as when we initially discussed it, he said he had to think about it. I feel my honesty about my intentions, the fact I had shown him other portraits of Filipino fishermen working in Scotland, and having also experienced working on a trawler myself, all helped me gain the trust needed to make his portrait.
There was a commanding presence about Carlton that was slightly intimidating, but there was a pastoral air about him too, in the way his friends and fellow crewmen behaved around him. I had a feeling that he was a man whose life was the sea.
Keith Lloyd Davenport is a documentary photographer currently based in Scotland. His work often involves long-term self-led projects which explore the boundaries between art, documentary and portrait photography in order to engage with themes of cultural, social and historical significance.
In 2016, Keith gained an MA in Documentary Photography from the University of South Wales, Newport, and his work has been shown in exhibitions in London, Cardiff, Inverness, Stornoway and New Delhi.