Photographer on mission to capture stories behind black community in Suffolk

You can watch Tanya Mercer's story here

An award-winning photographer is embarking on a unique project to celebrate the talent and contribution of the black community across Suffolk. 

John Ferguson has photographed hundreds of people from celebrities to world leaders, but now he’s concentrating on regular people who’ve made a difference here in the East.

It’s part of a wider series of events called Aspire Black Suffolk, which will run throughout this year, to inspire young black people. 

The project will run alongside other events including an exhibition at Ipswich museum and a variety of dance performances, drumming workshops, Yoruba language lessons, storytelling events, poetry readings, live music, heritage lectures, educational events, youth justice workshops and career talks.

 John says he's always wanted to tell the stories of black people in Suffolk.

It's a fascinating story. I think it's because I am fairly inquisitive and curious about other people and communities and I want to find out more, and if they are people who haven't got a voice I like to try and represent them using my photography.

John Ferguson

John is an international photographer who’s worked on assignments around the world. But now he’s working on a very personal project – close to home and close to his heart.  Showcasing and celebrating the talent and inspiration of the black community across Suffolk.

The focus of today’s shoot is Imani – who came over to Suffolk from Dominica when she was nine in 1976.  She’s had lots of roles in Ipswich and beyond including work with the Race Equality Council, Black history Month and Windrush Heritage events.

John has won awards for his work on big international stories, news assignments, lifestyle features and celebrity photoshoots.  But this is something extra special.

His Black Britannia exhibition – showcasing black people from all walks of life – toured the UK to high acclaim.

And it’s the strength of pictures and the stories behind them that John says can be so powerful.  And he hopes following the Black Lives Matter movement, audiences will be receptive to those messages.

The photography exhibition will be shown in the Cornhill in the summer and form part of the wider Aspire Black Suffolk project. 

One of John's photographs Credit: ITV Anglia

So from the intimacy of sharing a story grows something much bigger.  This photography project isn’t about just looking at a face – but really seeing the person behind the photo – and listening and learning from their story.