Overview: In terms of broad genres, selected by graduates to best describe their work, this years' graduates exactly match those of 2011 in terms of numbers in each category. While such broad categorisation is slippery, Documentary/Photojournalism is still the photographic label of choice for the majority, suggesting that as an area of practice it is malleable enough to accommodate a new generation of photographers. If this is a trend it will be interesting to see how much of this type of work makes it into print or onto the gallery wall in the future.
Sheffield Hallam University - BA (Hons) Photography
Selector's Comment: Stephen Wooldridge used friends to stage imaginary scenes from army life which he then photographed. He has created a cast of characters that could be from an updated version of Dads Army. In doing so Wooldridge explores some of the clichés and male fantasies associated with army life using 'action man' style wallpaper backdrops and in his, trooper with a 'glamorous girlfriend' we could be looking at an image from Nuts magazine.
University of Wales, Newport - BA (Hons) Documentary Photography
Selector's Comment: Louise photographed the army grounds that her young brother trained on when he joined the Marines. The stage sets that have been constructed there are used for combat role play although some of these full scale models, like the one of the helicopter, wouldn't seem out of place in a children's playground. But when we are presented with a real parade ground stage, abandoned rucksacks and targets will bullet holes we realise the seriousness of the situation that's being rehearsed.
Blackpool and the Fylde College - BA (Hons) Photography
Selector's Comment: In Doug Mitchell's own words: "not as I would have shot using my own camera", instead he works with the anonymous 'self portraits' of webcam users. Like all good suspense movies it's what's left out in these tightly cropped, murky images that feed the imagination. And it's easy to link the disparate characters into a single plot.
Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology (IADT) - BA (Hons) Photography
Selector's Comment: Monika has used photography as a way to reconnect with her father after being away from home for ten years. Although at times an intimate and tender portrayal of her father in his day to day rituals, Chmielarz is not shy of creating more humorous images presenting him without his trousers or in his 'Sunday best'. This set of portraits is one strand of a larger project to reconnect with other members of her family and its one in which photography helps to provide a way back in.
University of Westminster - BA (Hons) Photographic Arts
Selector's Comment: Sunil Shah combines family snapshots, extracts from interviews with family members and photographs of objects dusted down from the attic. The image I was most drawn to was the one of the head of a stuffed animal emerging from a black plastic bag. Its severed presence seems a powerful metaphor for events relating to the artist's family and their expulsion from Uganda in 1972.
John Duncan is an Editor at Source Photographic Review. In addition to his duties at Source John is also a practising photographer in his own right with a string of solo and group exhibitions to his name. His recent project Bonfires was published by Steidl in 2008. John was also a jury member for Fire's 'Propeller' award 2011.