Captivating Lebanese photography from the UEA graduate exploring “places less travelled”
For many, photography’s role in life goes far beyond simply capturing a moment in time; sometimes, that process speaks to something much greater, be it a political, social or even familial cause. In Billy Barraclough’s photographs, we find all three influences, each contributing to an absorbing body of work that both documents and dazzles.
Billy’s Dad had been a keen photographer, though as Billy says, “it wasn’t until he passed away when I was 11, and as I began to grow up, that the photos began to serve as a reminder of the way he looked at the world”. Having always taken a camera with him “to illustrate his journeys”, his legacy was full of photographic memories and lessons that, as he uncovered more and more over time, ensured the natural next step was for Billy to pick up the camera himself.
Within his own practice, then, Billy’s work focusses on the discursive power of photography, the power to “challenge stereotypes of issues, people and places”. Eschewing any sense of ‘voluntourism’, his photographs from his time in Lebanon channel precisely this social charge, marvellously conveying the bold personalities of their subjects and the broader contexts within which they are situated. In turn, Billy’s images both humanise and inform, creating the foundation for a constructive conversation centred around people, policy and place.
Having studied International Development with Economics at the University of East Anglia, Billy learned the importance of having a strong methodology when tackling a social problem. While in Lebanon, therefore, his emphasis on a rich ethnographic process that focussed on community participation ensured each image was captured with the utmost sensitivity. This quality abounds throughout his work, and it’s a testament to this empirical, research-dependent approach he developed while studying.
As he pursues photography as a discipline more explicitly, Billy will be heading back to Lebanon in the new year, where he’ll continue to develop his portfolio. In exploring these “places less travelled”, Billy can also tell stories rarely told, to an audience who rarely hears them. Such is the power of observing, engaging with and communicating these places. We’ll certainly be keeping an eye on Billy’s future work, which will, no doubt, continue not only to entertain but to educate, too.