Richard Beaven is a British freelance editorial and documentary photographer based in Ghent, NY. In 2011, following a career in advertising, studying people and their behaviour, Richard quit for photography and has been working professionally and for personal projects since. Regular clients include The Guardian and The Wall Street Journal. His portrait work has recently featured in The National Portrait Gallery Portrait Prize (UK), Head On Photo Portrait Awards (Australia), National Press Photographers Association/Best of Photojournalism (USA) and American Photography 33.
We spoke to Richard about his work documenting Ghent, NY.
“By creating a snapshot of the Ghent community during its Bicentennial year, this collection of portraits (275 in total) provides a record for the future. Digital and smartphone technologies have enabled us to capture billions of fleeting moments yet, only a tiny fraction are intended to have lasting impact or to be printed and archived in any way.
Photographs from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries are more readily to-hand, often serving as our only tactile document of history. This project is my response: a ‘box of prints in the basement’ from today which can be rediscovered and held by the community of tomorrow.
My aim was to reflect a broad narrative of our town through those who live and work here. For nearly a year, I sought out and connected with possible subjects most of who were strangers beforehand. I photographed as diverse a representation of the community as I could find portraying each person in a similar way and describing each by name and their time connected with Ghent. I resisted any additional categorisation ensuring an equal platform for all. The view is left to imagine and question for themselves what makes each subject unique or familiar based only on gesture, expression and setting.
This was a humbling and deeply insightful journey for me. I thank my Ghent neighbours for their time, support and the gift of understanding that we truly have more in common than that which separates us.”
All images and text © Richard Beaven