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Ellen Leigh Day on “CREATION” 


Working through the final year of my degree in Photography during Covid was strange, as it has been for everybody, but as a creative person, studying a creative subject, it was a massive departure from the way I would normally work, and learn. 


I mainly shoot portraits, and am interested in exploring people’s individuality and identity in my work, and using their handwriting overlaid or alongside their portraits adds a personal touch that gives insight or perspective on that person (or people) in the shot.


Since I started using handwriting with my photography, I’ve loved it, not only for how it looks, but it’s become a much more collaborative and interesting process for me. My work in this style can now be a presentation of several perspectives, not just mine.


When it came to starting what would be my final project for my degree the country was in full lockdown, but I knew that I wanted to try something new rather than just continuing the series’ I had earlier in the year. And I started to  think of new ways I could use handwriting as a creative device within the images, not as a response to a thematic question as I had before (in previous projects “The Significance of Motherhood”, “Young Feminists” and “Leo”). 


The idea of working with writers came to me, a combination of art forms, and a way to promote and celebrate their art, with mine. 


Deciding to shoot remotely over Zoom was kind of an afterthought, the most practical way for me to shoot at that time, and inspired by photographers Raphael Sassooni (@rs.jpg on Instagram) and Annie Reid (@annie_reid), who I’d seen had also shot via video call and their work remained just as impactful. So once I started researching, discussing my ideas  and finding poets and songwriters to get involved I was able to start shooting pretty quick. 


A photoshoot over Zoom is obviously totally different to how it is in real life, with an actual camera (I worked by screenshotting from my laptop as I directed the writers). And it felt like that, I did a test shoot with a friend before which definitely helped, and made me aware of what does and doesn’t work when shooting remotely like this. 


I do think that shooting in this way is a good exercise for any photographer. Working remotely you have to find new ways to communicate, I found myself moving around the room a lot to act out how I wanted the person on the other end of the line to pose. 

It is strange, just sitting, telling and pointing as the model does all of the work, and it was difficult to explain exactly what I meant at times, so although challenging, it was good practice in composition and direction.


A lot of my recent work has been shot on a Canon point and shoot, this is also a pretty unsophisticated medium, and just like shooting over video call has its own limitations. But there’s something fun about that, finding and pushing the boundaries, and creating something that has the same qualities as more traditional or classical photography or art.


Graduating from university I’m excited to continue building series’ exploring things that inspire and interest me, meeting and collaborating with as many people as I can, learning from them as I go. I think this is a perfect time for creatives to appreciate and celebrate one another and the creative collaborative process more than ever as we can all come together again.


See CREATION and my other projects and portraits on

credit where credit is due

photographer Hattie Darling

creative directors Jsmine Sophia & Christine Sandford

artist Jsmine Sophia

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