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The Big Issue in the North – 600 photographs later thumb

The Big Issue in the North – 600 photographs later

Thanks to the generosity of the editor of independent street paper The Big Issue in the North, more than 600 photographs by around 100 OCA photography students have featured in the magazine. OCA’s partnership with the magazine began in 2011. Now that we have become part of UCA and no longer have the charitable status we had back then, we’ve agreed not to continue the partnership in 2017.
One of the last images to have been published is by Pete Mansell, an OCA photography graduate whose work featured in the magazine several times when he was studying with us. Pete went on to study for an MA at Camberwell College of the Arts. He created a composite image to mark the end of the partnership with ‘The Big Issue in the North’ that shows the development of his work since 2010.
Jose Navarro, who was OCA’s first photography degree lead, blogged about the first 52 weeks of the partnership in September 2012. His post talked about the very first image to be featured in the magazine: a portrait of Sheffield-based singer-songwriter Gibson by Ben Robinson.
The Big Issue in the North has a circulation of over 20,000. It’s sold on the streets of towns and cities in the north of England (Lancashire and Greater Manchester, Yorkshire and the Humber and the North East) by vendors who want to earn a living to help them get off the streets. The partnership has given OCA students the opportunity to bring their work to a wider audience and exposed the readers of the magazine to the possibilities of photography they may not previously have considered.
The OCA group on Flickr has proved a rich source of images to offer Kevin Gopal, the editor of The Big Issue in the North. All the OCA student work featured has been given prominence either close to the beginning of the magazine or on the page with the Sudoku and the crossword. Subjects have included landscapes, still life, street photography and portraiture. There have been photographs which have celebrated the joyfulness of childhood and the misery of illness. Others have shown the English regions in which the magazine is sold in a new light. Some have illuminated countries thousands of miles away – China, Bangladesh and Iran.
Very occasionally, we have offered the editor an image that he hasn’t thought quite right for the magazine’s readership. Having work turned down is an experience all professional photographers encounter sooner or later. The few OCA students whom this has affected us have impressed us with the gracious way in which they have accepted the editor’s decision.
Our sincere thanks for all the OCA photographers who have kept this valuable partnership alive and to The Big Issue in the North, which has made it possible for students from the UK and internationally to share their work publicly.
Follow The Big Issue in the North on Twitter @bigissuenorth

Posted by author: Elizabeth Underwood
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12 thoughts on “The Big Issue in the North – 600 photographs later

  • It’s been a successful relationship & glad to have been part of it. Re editorial ‘turn-downs’, I gather from what you’ve said from time to time, Elizabeth, that we’ve also managed to broaden the view on what the magazine does accept; so a two-way process!

  • It’s pity it can’t continue because it offered such a good opportunity for student work to be recognised and appreciated more widely.I’d be interested to know why no longer having charitable status makes such a difference. In fact I didn’t know OCA no longer did have that status. I’m wondering now about the less usual avenues for UCA students to get their work recognised more widely

    • Hi Catherine
      We approached BITN when we merged with UCA. We wanted them to be aware that we were merging and in doing so would move from being a registered charity to part of an exempt charity (we are still charitable in purpose but universities do not have to register with the Charity Commission).
      BITN have been very generous with their print space in letting us have this opportunity, but felt our new status meant that they could not offer a slot to us and refuse it to other universities. We completely understand the logic.
      Going forward we will be working with UCA to find other opportunities to get our excellent student work out there.

  • Thanks to BITN I was lucky to have 3 images published, and it certainly is inspiring to see your images published. Thanks Elizabeth.

  • In the early days we had to work to a brief which was to find local news items of interest. This got me seriously charged up and taught me a lot about working out there to tight deadlines.
    Many thanks for the opportunity.

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