documentary photography

From the archives

New York 1989 -Ladder 24

In 1987 while photographing in NY, I came across the tail end of a fire. Having missed the action, I chatted with the firemen.

Back in London, I contacted the brigade and arrange to document the daily life of ‘Ladder 24’. Everything was secured for October 1989 as I was already flying over to cover election night at the Smithsonian where vice presidential candidate Dan Quayle was scheduled to appear.

Now what are the odds of spending days and nights with the NY fire brigade and not be called to a fire? Apparently, it was unheard of, only false call outs and minor incidents! I was seen as a lucky mascot personally keeping New Yorkers safe for those few days!

I think it could be time for a re-visit!

The photographer at work!

11th Annual International Color Awards

Delighted to be a winner in the 11th Annual International Color Awards 2018.

I took a gamble this year and submitted a rather different take for the ‘Still Life’ category. The image was taken during my time as visiting assistant professor in photography and photographic design at NDU, Louaize, Beirut, Lebanon, in the late 1990’s.

Hospital for the disabled, Beirut, Lebanon

A 15-year civil war and conflicts with neighbours such as Israel have left Lebanon plagued by lasting danger, unexploded land mines and cluster munitions.

Click to see more images

So this was the email that came in late last night!

Press release

LOS ANGELES 13th March 2018

 Jacky Chapman of UK was presented with the 11th Annual International Color Awards Honorable Mention in the category of Still Life at a prestigious Nomination & Winners Photoshow streamed Saturday, March 10, 2018.

The live online gala was attended by over 12,500 photography fans around the globe who logged on to watch the climax of the industry’s most important event for color photography.

11th Annual Jury members included captains of the industry from Christie’s, Paris; Grey Group, New York; The Art Channel, London; Ogilvy & Mather, Amsterdam; Publicis Conseil, Paris; Preus Museum, Norway; Art Beatus, Hong Kong; Netflix, Los Angeles; Whitechapel Gallery, London; and Phillips, New York.

“Photography is more popular than ever. Last year around 1.2 trillion pictures were taken. In this awards show we pay tribute to the top 0.0000000001% of them” said Juror Martijn van Marle, Chief Creative Officer at Ogilvy & Mather, Amsterdam. Joshua White, Presenter and Producer on The Art Channel, London added “Judging this year’s submissions for the Color Awards was challenging. The winning images illustrate the continuing importance of photography as a way of seeing the world around us and understanding human experience.”

“It is an incredible achievement to be selected among the best from the 5,642 entries we received this year,” said Basil O’Brien, the awards Creative Director. Jacky Chapman’s “Hospital for the disabled, Beirut,” is an exceptional image entered in the Still Life category, represents contemporary color photography at its finest, and we’re pleased to present her with the title of Honorable Mention”

INTERNATIONAL COLOR AWARDS is the leading international award honoring excellence in color photography. 


Refugee Week 2017 – ‘In Transit’ photography exhibition on until 6th July

‘The destruction of the Calais ‘Jungle’ in October 2016, and the Dunkirk Grande-Synthe in April 2017, returned close to 10,000 people to homelessness. Despite the prominence of the camps in liberal and reactionary media alike, the fate of their one-time inhabitants is now slipping from public consciousness with all too predictable ease. In Transit, is pitched against precisely this collective amnesia. Bringing together some two hundred photographs, taken by Jacky Chapman and Janine Wiedel across 2016, the exhibition offers an urgent reminder of the camps’ existence, and a poignant testament to the people now moving ever more precariously to the edges of political agendas’.  Review by Rosa Zimmermann for Photomonitor

“Refugee Week takes place every year across the world in the week around World Refugee Day on the 20 June. In the UK, Refugee Week is a nationwide programme of arts, cultural and educational events that celebrate the contribution of refugees to the UK, and encourages a better understanding between communities.

Refugee Week started in 1998 as a direct reaction to hostility in the media and society in general towards refugees and asylum seekers. An established part of the UK’s cultural calendar, Refugee Week is now one of the leading national initiatives working to counter this negative climate, defending the importance of sanctuary and the benefits it can bring to both refugees and host communities”. Refugee Week

Salvation Army International HQ

Gallery 101
101 Queen Victoria Street

Mon – Fri 8:30am – 4:30pm

Free admission. Between St Pauls and the Tate Modern.

‘In Transit’ Photos

The Aftermath. Topographical imprints of France’s forgotten migrant camp ‘Grande-Synthe’


Dunkirk Migrant Camp, France

Aftermath. Topographical imprints of France’s forgotten migrant camp Grande-Synthe was photographed five days after the last refugee left the illegal waterlogged site opposite a housing estate on the outskirts of Dunkirk, Northern France (home to approximately 3,000 migrant men, women and children).

Dunkirk Migrant Camp, France


These seemingly abstract images capture the lives of real people, in real time, fleeing their oppression. Swathes of sodden artifacts remain (shoes, boots, duvets, tents, sleeping bags) objects  awaiting fossilisation, relics testifying to what may become a forgotten history, as the camp is buried by bulldozers in Northern France.

Dunkirk Migrant Camp, France

Though akin to topographical satellite imagery  (craters and crevasses, lakes, mountain ranges, desert, sand ripples by  the sea), the images show the personal remains of camp life, residuals encased in mud, an enduring memorial of inhumanity.

Dunkirk Migrant Camp, France


On 7th March 2016, the first refugees from this Grande-Synthe mire made the 10-minute journey by foot to newly erected wooden sheds, assembled by Médecins Sans Frontières, near the Port of Dunkirk. This short journey is perhaps not much compared to the extraordinary miles already travelled across a continent to escape persecution and war.

Dunkirk Migrant Camp, France

CLICK HERE to see more on Social Documentary Network






‘A picture’s worth a thousand words.’ The British Life Photography awards.

Last night saw the opening of the 2nd British Life Photography awards at the Mall Galleries, London. The Gallery was packed and the photos, which celebrated British life in all of its many splendid ways, looked fantastic!

‘The British Life Photography Awards is a showcase for contemporary and imaginative images that capture the essence and spirit of British life, documenting real life through original, illuminating, thought provoking, humorous and poignant imagery’. Maggie Gowan BLPA Director.

I’m delighted to say that my image below was highly commended and hung on the gallery wall. All of the images are in the book (British Life Photography Awards Portfolio published by Dewi Lewis Publishing –Book).


Highly Commended in the Historic Britain Category.

City boy London 1989

A Future so bright…Young professional donning braces and shades. Photographed in 1989 towards the end of the ‘Yuppie’ era. The 1980’s saw the growth of the middle class and the creation of a large group of young urban professionals. I took this picture because of the play between the young confident male and the iconic image of John Wayne in the background. London, 1989.


Ascot Ladies Day

During 1986, I documented Britain’s diverse social classes. Royal Ascot (dating back to 1711) and the Royal enclosure were obvious candidates. I attended on the third day (traditionally Ladies Day) where fancy hats, formal day dresses, top hats and tails are the order of the day.

In the Portraiture Category

Father and son

This was one of the final images from the photo-shoot. I sought to capture the simplicity of two forms, showing tenderness and a loving bond between father and son, with no faces for distraction. Once shot, the image reminded me of Bill Brandt’s dynamic Nudes on the beach. As Brandt once said “…the lens produced anatomical images and shapes which my eyes had never observed”.

Jeremy John Irons (born 19 September 1948) English actor

This was one of those nail-biting photo shoots where the journalist and I were given only a few minutes with Irons during his lunch break whilst he was in rehearsals. The result? A hand full of frames and an awful lot of praying! (Shot for the Times Educational Supplement). London, 1996.

BBC News online coverage

The exhibition showing some of the best work runs from 7 – 13 March 2016 at Mall Galleries, London. Mall Galleries


Shrimp fishing – the world’s last remaining horseback fishermen. Oostduinkerke, Belgium.

Shrimpfisher-men on horseback. Oostduinkerke Belgium

Shrimpfisher-men on horseback.

Shrimpfisher Oostduinkerke Belgium


Oostduinkerke is a small Flemish town not far from Oostende, where I witnessed a dying tradition. A truly wonderful experience that left a lasting impression.

Shrimpfisher-men on horseback. Oostduinkerke Belgium

Very few fishermen still use horses to ride out into the North Sea during low tide to gather shrimp. Dressed in the brightest of bright yellow oilskins and waist high boots, the fishermen plod across the sands and after checking and re-checking their nets, wade out into the cold seas.

Shrimpfisher-men on horseback. Oostduinkerke Belgium
Perched high on wooden saddles the men steer the powerful draft horses (mainly Brabantian or Ardennes breeds) forward until the chilly water reaches the horses’ chests. A slow parade then takes place as the horses pace back and forth parallel to the beach.

Shrimpfisher-men on horseback. Oostduinkerke Belgium

Just as they have for half a millennium (since 1500), the horse fishermen return every now and again to the beach to empty the nets and sort the shrimp from the other sea life. Tiny crabs and fish are discarded to the squalling delight of the awaiting seagulls.

Shrimpfisher-men on horseback. Oostduinkerke Belgium

Shrimpfisher-men on horseback. Oostduinkerke Belgium

Shrimpfisher-men on horseback. Oostduinkerke Belgium

In 2013, UNESCO added Shrimpfishing on horseback in Oostdunkerke to the Unesco representative list of the ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’.

Shrimpfisher-men on horseback. Oostduinkerke Belgium

Even though this 500 year old tradition has become somewhat a tourist attraction it is still an amazing and splendid sight to behold.


Shrimpfisher-men on horseback. Oostduinkerke Belgium

Shrimpfisher-men on horseback. The grass version!