Depicting the Middlemen

Middlemen by Sarah Amy Fishlock

This picture by Sarah Amy Fishlock is a delight to look at and yet there's a story behind it that makes it even more compelling.

At first glance it was the muted tones that captured my attention, and the mystery of the situation. Is it a random picture of home life? Why is the man staring out of the window in a somewhat severe pose while the young girl looks back at the camera? And the framing, it seems considered and yet the lamp obscures the man's hands, so to some extent must have been grabbed in the moment.

So what is it about? Well, it is part of a series entitled Middlemen that explores the lives of Iraqis who were resettled in Glasgow having worked with the British government and forces in Iraq during the conflict there, hence the reason the subject's identity is hidden.

The photograph was one of the first ones taken during the project. The subject was posed looking out of the window on his new hometown, when his daughter ran into frame. This is the only shot she appears in, and it is this lucky moment that makes the picture.

Middlemen by Sarah Amy Fishlock Another frame from Middlemen

"The winter light was weak so I set the shutter speed to [one-fifteenth of a second] and worked with the aperture wide open," says Fishlock. This accounts for the slight shake present in the frame, all of which adds to the story and works well in this context.

Fishlock is a documentary photographer and a graduate of the Glasgow School of Art, whose work is well worth some exploration.

She told me: "My work explores ideas of place, family, community and identity - I am interested in documenting the mise-en-scenes [surroundings] that make up human lives.

Start Quote

For me, documentary photography is about arresting time for a fraction of a second to become a witness to someone else's story”

End Quote Sarah Amy Fishlock

"My stories can revolve around specific people - an Iraqi former translator, an autistic child.

"They can also be stories of places - a deserted beach resort, a piazza, a bowling alley, a tree-lined street - locations indelibly etched by human presence.

"Being a documentary photographer gives me the ability to work in an intuitive way that seems, to me, completely natural - I like to put myself in unusual and interesting situations and then respond instinctively.

"After the initial researching and setting up of a project, I embed myself in the daily lives of my subjects, so that I can quietly capture moments that convey something essential about their lives."

Fishlock is currently artist in residence at the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow.

Here are a few more frames from the Middlemen series.

Middlemen by Sarah Amy Fishlock
Middlemen by Sarah Amy Fishlock
Middlemen by Sarah Amy Fishlock
Middlemen by Sarah Amy Fishlock

You can see more of Sarah Amy Fishlock's work on her website.

Phil Coomes Article written by Phil Coomes Phil Coomes Picture editor

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