Vikki // © Laurie Broughton
The Story behind the Portrait
In the midst of constant changing modernity, the youth of contemporary South Wales find themselves as an in-between, coming of age in an uncertain future. My project “Where To’s It” is a coming-of-age project set in South Wales that focuses on 18 to 22-year-olds. The project is a commentary view on youth culture, the transition from teenage life to adulthood, and all that happens in between. The Welsh heritage of the landscape informs their sense of place, whilst their self-expressionism radiates through gesture, fashion, and gaze.
I moved to South Wales from London in 2019 to follow my passion for documentary photography and develop my practice further. Growing up in an urban environment, I have always longed for the beauty and freedom gained from wild landscapes. I have fallen in love with South Wales, in its architecture, the people, and the pride they have. In Wales, I find myself on the precipice of one of the world’s most stunning landscapes, only forty minutes travel from my student digs. The urbanised landscape of Cardiff feels alien from the rolling hills of the valleys and dismantled industry that once created these thriving towns.
In this wider work, I decided to document people going through a similar transition to myself, who were discovering who they were becoming or dreamt they might be. In a collaborative process, I asked to meet individuals from all over South Wales, taking portraits of them in their surroundings in order to represent who they are and their heritage. I used social media to contact most of my participants, asking if they had other friends of a similar age that would be interested in taking part. They were also invited to write a letter about themselves to accompany their portrait. This would serve as a memory of this moment in time so that in the future, they could look back and reflect.
Vikki is twenty-one, had grown up in Cardiff. We met through a mutual friend and initially went for a cuppa to discuss the project. She immediately struck me as an individual with a wonderful sense of style and confidence. I asked her to wear something that she considered defined her, something she felt comfortable in. Her response to this was her 6 inches healed Demonia Demon leather boots. She was very comfortable in front of the camera and it made sense when she told me that she wanted to be an alternative model and one day work in London.
We discussed multiple locations to take pictures but finally ended up around the corner from where she grew up, capturing the terrace houses which are synonymous with Cardiff’s architecture. Walking through the gates of a car-park, next to a Mosque, we discovered an amazing metal scrap that enchanted both of us. Vikki said she felt drawn to the scene, natural even, standing in an environment that appeared somewhat apocalyptic.
The experience of making the photograph developed a trust between us, that we were growing to know one another. Afterward, I asked Vikki to write me a letter to accompany her portrait. We subsequently met the following week for our exchange where I gave her a couple of prints and she gave me her thoughts.
We discussed multiple locations to take pictures but finally ended up around the corner from where she grew up, capturing the terrace houses which are synonymous with Cardiff’s architecture.
Laurie Broughton is a social documentary photographer from London. He is currently studying Documentary Photography at the University of South Wales. Laurie is the founder of the Police Kicking Kids Collective.
Laurie’s practice explores themes around youth culture and social housing. Through research and exposure to subjects, he aims to challenge himself to look underneath the surface of preconceived notions of identity and cultural stereotypes, through immersing himself within the communities he photographs. His work questions outdated views on communities with the aim to challenge societal norms in the form of immersive image-making over a prolonged period of time
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