Document Scotland: A collective capturing a nation

THE focus may be on Alex Salmond and co as Scotland gears up for next year’s independence referendum, but photography collective Document Scotland are more interested in capturing “real people and real events”, as discovers

While Document Scotland’s aspirations as a photography collective are pretty obvious - it’s all in the title, after all - a shared background and passion for documentary photography means that they go about doing so in a markedly different way from their contemporaries.

“What I’m interested in is photographing real people, real events, the hum-drum of life,” explains Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, co-founder of the collective alongside Colin McPherson, Stephen McLaren and Sophie Gerrard.

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“We all know what Alex Salmond looks like, we all know what Nicola Sturgeon looks like.

“But what I’m interested in is telling the stories of real people, not just the politicians or celebrated Scots who get photographed quite frequently.

“We want people to relate to our photography.”

Though Document Scotland, established only last year, emerges at a time where Scotland has seldom been under more scrutiny across the globe, Sutton-Hibbert argues that one of the collective’s main goals is to revive the flagging, “neglected” tradition of contemporary, home-grown documentary photography.

“Scotland has a great heritage in documentary photography, from 19th century photographers such as Hill and Adamson, John Thomson and his work from China, James Cox and his work from the Fife fishing villages through to the 1950-70s with Oscar Marzaroli and Joseph MacKenzie, amongst others.

“We strongly believe in keeping that line of working in the documentary photography field in Scotland alive, and we wish to help promote the work of those currently producing strong documentary work, but which, for many reasons, is not getting highlighted or seen.”

Document Scotland have already presented a selection of their works in a newspaper format - something that Sutton-Hibbert compares to a “business card”, and admits is an echo of the collective’s print background - though the Scots-born photographer admits such publications will be irregular, with a second issue not due until the summer.

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However, he goes on to argue that this distance from the pressures of publishing daily or weekly ultimately works in the collective’s favour: “News moves at such speed these days; newspapers don’t have time to send photographers to work on things.

“We are committed to spending time on stories, and to looking at them in depth.”

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• For more information on Document Scotland, visit Seeing Ourselves, an exhibition of Scottish documentary photography featuring members of Document Scotland, as well as Martin Hunter, Robert Ormerod, Jenny Wicks and many others, will feature at Fotospace in Glenrothes, Fife from 3 June - 31 July