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I started taking pictures when I was little, but not with a camera because I didn’t have one. Instead my Mum taught me to take pictures with ‘my minds eye’. I think we were on a beach in France when she first got me to do it. “Really look at what you are seeing” she said. She got me to notice all the colours, all the textures, the shadows and the highlights. Then I had to shut my eyes and look at the picture in my head. Then open my eyes and see if I had missed anything. If I had, I should go back and add that detail. My head was the black box, my eyelids the shutter. I loved it. I was pretty shy as a child but that gave me a good vantage point for looking at the world. When you are quiet you see a lot!
I probably didn’t have my own camera till I was 18 but I had been taking pictures for years by then. I went off and travelled when I was 18 with my Grandpa’s old Pentax- it was a hugely liberating. After studying Psychology at the University of Leeds, working in documentary research and photographic publishing, I went freelance as a photographer. At the centre of my work are people and their stories. I use images, audio and film to communicate them.
We all know how important stories are. By listening to other people we get an insight into their lives that can shape and shift our perceptions of the world. Stories can dismantle false expectations and break down barriers, rehabilitate and re-build lives.
Over the past 5 years I have worked with Alison Palmer on The Footballers. A series of portraits of the England Women’s Football Team. It tells the story of the incredible, pioneering women who have changed the face of Women’s Football in the UK. I am in the middle of editing a series of peoples stories from Myanmar that gives a personal insight into a country tentatively moving towards democracy. At the beginning of the year I started shooting a documentary film about Child Soldiers in Africa with Docfactory
“Olivia is more than an excellent photographer; she is a collaborator, an activist and a teller of stories more compelling than a one hour documentary and more visually stunning than a Turner prize. Her enthusiasm, humility and dedication to her subject matter has given us a resource which speaks volumes about our work in a way which captures the imagination and the heart of the viewer”
Jane Cater, Coaching for Hope.
Recent multimedia projects for international charities and NGOs
The Testimony Project, London
Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, London
(the appeal raised over £1 million)
Coaching for Hope, South Africa
Medical Action Myanmar, Myanmar (Burma)
FOFI, Bristol, 2014
Women In Sport Exhibition, London, 2014
Coaching for Hope Exhibition, London, 2014
The Portrait Salon 2012
The ‘Footballers’ as part of the ‘Moving The Goalposts’
‘The Footballers’, Wembley Stadium
‘The Footballers’, Epitaph Stadium, Manchester
‘The Footballers’ Lanchester Gallery, Coventry exhibiting during
The Olympics 2012
Act For Darfur, London, 2008
Selected Group Show, Photofusion
Coven Magazine, 2014
Times Exclusive ‘The Footballers’ 2013
Selected for Portrait salon 2012
Radio 4 documentray, Smile- contributor, 2012
Short-listed for the Taylor Wessing National Portrait Prize 2011