Photography Friday, November 27th

Photographer profile: Kirsty Pye

Documentary photographer Kirsty Pye has used her love of life behind a lens to focus youngsters on a more positive outlook.

Kirsty, who lives in Hereford and successfully studied for an MA in Documentary Photography, helps introduce often vulnerable young people to photography by working as a lead artist at workshops organised by Brightstripe.

This involves going into youth clubs including taking sessions at Tudorville and District Community Centre in Ross-on-Wye.

“You can just see some of them click when they are given a camera,” said Kirsty.

“For me to give them my camera shows I trust them and that builds their confidence.

“It allows them to focus on something other than what is going on with their own lives and I really like that.

“When you get a 10-year-old who picks up a camera and just gets it and have the confidence to come up with their own ideas it’s lovely.”

 

Kirsty’s interest in photography has deep roots within her own family.

“My family were collectors of cameras and my nan was quite a prolific documentary photographer,” said Kirsty.

But it was a period of suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis that saw her interest in photography develop.

“I found the only thing I could do that would not completely tire me out was going into my nan’s garden and taking macro photos,” said Kirsty.

“I could not stand up for long without being in pain but I could lie down and take photos.

“It pushed me in the right direction. It gave me a kick to realise that I needed to do what I enjoyed.”

Despite her ill health Kirsty went to study for a diploma in Photography and then a BA Hons at Hereford College of Arts.

Her studies culminated in a masters in documentary photography which she studied at the University of South Wales in Newport.

As part of her course she undertook a project photographing the 13 nuns living at The Poor Clare Convent in Little Birch.

This saw Kirsty put together a documentary picture book dispersed with quotes from the nuns.

“It was an exploration of their religion and existence,” said Kirsty. “My grandmother, who I lived with at the time, was very religious so I had a very religious upbringing.

“As I got older I began to question this.

“The project gave me a great insight into the lives of the nuns. It gave me the history of how they found themselves in the convert.

“I wanted to know how they received their ‘big calling’ but when you get to know them you find out that there was no real ‘big calling’ as such so the project did not really answer my questions.

“I was allowed to go behind closed doors. There are areas just for the nuns and I got to see them praying, relaxing, and reading in their bedroom.

“I got to interview them as well. Some of the nuns did not want to be photographed but most were fine with me.”

So what is next for Kirsty?

“I love taking photographs but my main passion lies with working with young people and helping them to realise their potential and discover talents and skills that they may not realise they have,” she said.

“For me, there is nothing more rewarding. 

“It is my aim to support the Photography AS and A Level students at The Hereford Academy the best way that I can in order to help them achieve their qualifications. 

“I also hope to continue my role as a lead artist on Brightstripe's Y.Art project working with various youth groups across the county alongside some other extremely talented, wonderful and unique artists.

“I love my work and I always feel like I am on one very creative little adventure.”

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