Natalie Dersley

Title of Final Major Project


Description of subject to be investigated 

Social behaviour has always interested me upon my arrival at University. It was here I became engaged and awoken from my previously sheltered life style. I have spent the last three years documenting the social lifestyle within this culture of the young and free. The appeal of documenting social behaviour started with my already keen interest in psychology. However it was at university that I met people from very different lifestyles and opinions, with the attitude of here and now.

My Work is focusing on the lifestyles and stories behind a small group of young adults, that share a common interest and attitude. I will document them for two months in there progressive behaviour and how they act when in bigger numbers. I would like my work to focus on and their progress to make almost separate social identities within group constructs.


I started documenting the lifestyle of university last year for one of my modules. Where I followed a large number of students through their transformation at university to build a fresh start.  Many people come to university with the intension to re define oneself or create their alter egos.

With the new born freedom many of them would find themselves in very sociable roles, which many of them may of not experienced before. To be accepted at university there seems to be a large emphasis on holding your drink.

Many students slip into this role to be socially accepted and will find that they will binge drink up to 3+ days a week in their first year.

I photographed the behaviour conducted when in a large groups and the symbolic dependence on alcohol or drugs to become confident, lively and to have a ‘good’ time.

My project Here:Now will include the above but will look deeper into the role each individual plays and their experiences with drugs and alcohol. I will focus on their social identity confusion and their experimental methods.

When looking at photographers who have previously influenced my work, I seem to be drawn in to the freedom and risky topics.

Drugs is always a taboo in our society, however you will find a large proportion of individuals have tried cannabis at some point in their lives as its the most used drug in britain even after the upgrade from class C to B due to the mental health effects it has been known to have, however it remains to be used.

MCAT also known as Cathinones came onto the market not so long ago, it was legal as it was a natural stimulant in a plant, Knat. However this has also become illegal and now classified as a class B drug in 2010. MCAT gives the same effects of speed and ecstasy for half the price. Due to its cheapness it is very popular with young adults.

There is also some tenderness when talking about alcohol as the government is debating watering it down, in a bid to protect the health of those that drink to excess.

I like work that challenges social acceptability, work that rocks the boat and challenges the viewer to see another side to the world. That side we once all shared but as we got older we lost along the way. The here and now attitude of young adults and teenagers, living for the moment. I have been among people that question taking a drugs and the response from friends is let future you deal with it. Its an endearing attitude and lifestyle that generates great subjects.

Larry Clark is a real inspiration to my piece of work. Although a photographer he wanted to be a film maker, in his build up to this he produced some great collections such as Tulsa, The perfect childhood and Teenage Lust.

His images are intent on showing his subjects at their most relaxed and unguarded moments sharing an intimate moment that you wouldn’t of normally seen. In some images their is serenity and softness where some of his other work is in black and white with a grainy aesthetic.


This image is one of my favorites and embodies what I will be trying to do myself in my upcoming work:


This image was taken by Larry Clark in his very intimate collection of work, Tulsa. His book starts with this paragraph really emphasizing it is an extension of him with personal significance and shows his friends in not the most flattering light but there is a beauty to it that has always intrigued me.

“I was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1943. When I was sixteen I started shooting amphetamine.  I shot with my friends everyday for three years and then left town but I’ve gone back through the years.  Once the needle goes in it never comes out.”

The aesthetic of Larry’s work in Tulsa in grainy and taken on 16mm film and tape recordings. I will be producing work using different film ranging from 35mm to 6×7. I will be using a low ISO to try and replicate the grainy texture produced in these images that presents a life of its own, as if its aged or been affected by its subjects.

                                                                             Nan Goldin’s Ballad of Sexual Dependency

This book she produced shows her life through images through her relationships, drug use, friendships made within the drag scene and the culture of new york in the early 80’s. Her work is candid and highly intimate.

I want to embody both photographers in my project, I want to show intimacy but with the stylist approach of Nan Goldin as if I were to follow larry clark fully, I would find it difficult to separate nudity with smutty.



Research into inspirational photographers whom have inspired to body of work.

Establish an aestheticI want to shoot in.

Ask a small collection of individuals to document.

Buy film, 35mm and 6×7 120ISO.


Set up days to shoot with individuals on a weekly basis.

Im looking to photograph 4-5 main subjects, maybe more depending on the time frame.

Gain 5 audio interviews of intimate memories of their first use.

more research in the cultural differences in drug use.

more research done into the effects of drinking in britain.

Get costs of framing and printing.


complete all shoots

scan all negatives

do all printing needed (glossy printing paper by hand)

edit and upload personal audio clips

Buy frames for final work (16×12 box black frame – £20 each)


Order book from blurb first week of may.

Fit all images to frames, last minute tweaking

Add any other research to blog

Critically evaluate the body of work.


I am hoping my work reaches out to young adults, as it is embodying them. I would also like my work to translate a new meaning for adults whom associate drugs to criminals and show a candid portraiture of just young people living for the moment. The Spontaneity of the free and young. I want the work to be inspirational, in a photographic viewpoint, not in the sense people should be doing drugs.

I think my work will interest a lot of people, maybe due to its agenda and pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable. I will be using social media platforms to promote my work in its progress and hope to widen the interest.

I hope people will find the work striking and embody both portraiture and documentary photography alike. I think the use of audio clips will focus the person on the image and generate a greater depth to the subject in the images. A voice adds identity, as a posed to a still photograph and text.

How to Present:

As my work is a documentary piece it is important to keep the documentary style however not to overexpose the viewer with too many frames. I would ideally like to produce 6-8 framed images, 16×12 or bigger if I only use 4 images. these images will be portraits of my subjects. I want to use glossy printing paper as i find the tonal qualities are more exaggerated than matte. I will be producing a book which will show my work as a body so the viewer can flick through and get a greater understanding. I would like to offer audio snippets so the viewer has the option to listen to the personal story of each subject. I will be doing this in offering a cd cassette to the side of the work.

My work will be placed horizontally across the wall, this is as its at eye level and can be easily digested by viewers.

I want it to be a clean and simple preview of my work, I do not wish to clutter my space to distract my viewer from the subject at hand.


Film: Ilford FP 4 120 medium format x10 (£4 each) £40

Ilford Delta 100 24 exposure 35mm  x 2 (£4 each) £8

Photographic paper: Ilford Multigrade IV RC Deluxe Paper £40

Frames: image frames:(£16 x6 each A3) £96

Cameras: Nikon f60 and Mamiya R6    £0

Software and printing facilities are provided.  £0

Book (hardcover): £40

Total cost: £224  Maximum budget of £300

Sample images: (my film didn’t produce as well as I had hoped, however these images I took symbolize the route I’m taking but onto film as a posed to these digital image I had taken)


Larry Clark (2000). Tulsa. 2nd ed. New Tork: Grove Press / Atlantic Monthly Press. 1-64.

Nan Goldin (1989). The Ballad of Sexual Dependency. New York: Aperture. 1-143.

Luthring Augustine. (2010). Larry Clark. Available: Last accessed March 2012.

Niall McDiarmid. (2011). Niall McDiarmid on ‘The Ballad of Sexual Dependency’, a personal reflection. Available: Last accessed March 2012.

Dreams romance excess. (2011). Tulsa-Larry Clark. Available: Last accessed March 2012.

ASX. (2011). LARRY CLARK: “Tulsa – An Essay by Larry Clark” (1971). Available: Last accessed March 2012.

Andrew Pulver . (2010). Photographer Larry Clark’s best shot. Available: best-shot. Last accessed march 2012.

RANK . (2011). Cathinones. Available: Last accessed March 2012.

BBC News. (2008). Cannabis laws to be strengthened. Available: Last accessed March 2012.

Elizabeth Fuller. (2010 ). Smoking, drinking and drug use among young people in England in 2010. Available: Last accessed March 2012.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s