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Francis

 

 Francis

Where have I seen myself within popular culture? On the news.

I see a lot of myself there. I see people like me killed on there. I see bad interpretations of who I am. That’s where I’ve seen myself most, and it’s not so nice.  As a 13 year old, I didn’t have a real emotional response other to it than ‘that’s just life’. When you live in a certain way, with certain people, and your actions have certain repercussions, TV might bring it to life, but you’ve seen reality. You’ve seen people die. People killed. You’ve seen your friends get killed. There’s nothing that a TV will tell you differently that changes your mindset.


What does change your mindset is moments like when I was on an entrepreneurship course, and the people leading it were from ends. The people telling you you can do this sh*t are people that I can see as uncles, as my friend’s dad, my brothers. When I see the news now and young men and boys being killed or having done something criminal, I’m filled with immense sadness. I can see myself in them, my friends in them. I can see they’re lost. I can see my little brother in some of them. He’s 10 now, and one of the greatest humans I’ve ever met. Seeing in newspapers what his future might be, that really scares me. I can’t let that be him. 

 
 
 

Where are the stories about about people in the Afro-Caribbean community that aren’t in the arts?


I’d love to show my sister “look, there’s an architect, a biologist etc.” Any other discipline, degree, work that’s not to do with arts. Those stories about how someone became a doctor, whatever it is, need to be told more. When we do talk about actors, photographers and artists, those stories need to be told not in a redundant way. I don’t want Selfridges to tell a story about someone if the people producing it don’t really understand it. Stories should be told by people who understand and have some level of lived experience. I’m not going to tell the story of a white transgender person from Kansas. I’m not going to try. I could photograph it, or get the right person with the right level of empathy and understanding to do it. And I say this because there are so many f***ing production companies who do this. It’s happened to me. “We’re doing something on Damilola Taylor’s death, we think it’s important. Do you want to get involved?” This is a white guy who doesn’t know Damilola Taylor or his family. As a kid I’d be like “I’m on TV!” - great. But as an adult? F*** you. I’m not here for that. There aren’t enough stories being told by the people who’ve experience them enough to have a level of care and attention. To tell them properly. 

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Ashley Verse is a photographer I think is f***ing amazing. We went to the same primary school, had a little altercation that meant we weren’t friends for a period of time, but eventually we bucked up again and would talk here and there. I’ve seen him as a 10, 11, 12, 13 year old. I’ve seen his growth. I know him. I can see where he started as a photographer, and see where he is now, doing sh*t I can only be proud of.

I started taking photography seriously about 4 years ago. Someone said “oh you’re good at what you do!” and asked me to take photos for them for a job with Microsoft. I thought I was getting money! It was for a residential, Monday to Friday. This year, I got the same amount for a job that was only four hours.

It shows the notion of progression and self-worth, and that it comes with time, people appreciating you and you appreciating yourself, and experience. If someone doesn’t see that, they’ve got a problem.

 
 
 

You can follow Francis on Twitter and Instagram.

He is an astoundingly talented photographer and storyteller, with a gift for capturing people’s best moments and finding the best places to eat.

You can see his work on his website.

Francis co-hosts Special Guest Brixton, one Tuesday evening every month. It’s a beautiful vibe, and I highly recommend showing up.