Experience

Mark Griffiths’ Ten Favorite Photographs

Bird in Flight asked British photographer Mark Griffiths to choose 10 favorite photographs from his archives and tell us about them.
Mark Griffiths

Photographer from South Wales (Great Britain). Received an honors BA in photojournalism from the University of Wales. Has been assistant to Gareth Phillips for four years. Published his works in The Calvert Journal, The British Journal of Photography, Wales Art Review, Featureshoot.



This is image is from my series ‘South of the Landsker’. I met with a Scout group and saw this girl with a great photographic look, pale skin with lots of freckles and light ginger hair that really stood out from the dark green uniform she was wearing. I knew immediately she would make a great portrait. I told her to stand next to this fence and think about a significant moment in her life like her birthday, starting secondary school or being awarded with her first scouts badge. This detached her from the fact that there was a camera pointing at her and made her look more relaxed and deep in thought. You can almost picture what she may be thinking about, as she is so unaware of my presence. The image has since been selected for a national touring exhibition by the photo collective ‘A fine beginning’.

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From the series ‘The Healing Land’ I spent a month photographing Chernobyl’s children in the UK this summer as part of a rest and recuperation program. This is Sabina; she was particularly subdued and exhausted this day. We had visited a local zoo, and when we stopped for some lunch, Sabina decided to lie on this bench alone while the other children ate together. Her host family knew she wasn’t right and later took her to the hospital where she was diagnosed with a kidney infection. Chernobyl children are prone to illness and infection from having a weak immune system from years of radiation poisoning and genetic birth defects. I think this image says a lot about the legacy of the disaster.

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Malcolm is a 4th generation coracle fisherman. He builds boats (which can be carried on his back) in a workshop he has next to the river. I wanted a picture of him gazing out onto the river he has fished since he was a child. I think the low angle gives the viewer a sense of his dominance and ownership over his fishing ground much like a king surveying his land from the top of his castle.

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This is quite a nostalgic picture for me. It was taken in my first year at University while studying photojournalism. It was the very first frame I took using a 6x6 medium format Mamiya camera. I had never used anything other than 35mm and when I saw the results of the medium format I was hooked immediately. It suits my style of photography down to the ground and I could never imagine being without it.

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This image was taken at the top of the Preseli Mountains in North Pembrokeshire, UK. I didn’t really know what to expect at the top. I wanted a landscape shot of the lower valley, but when I saw this abandoned wooden shelter, I knew it would be far more interesting visually. I don’t know why someone would climb this mountain with materials to build such a thing. It’s miles from anywhere and in a pretty precarious and vulnerable position being exposed to the elements. I think that’s why I like it. It makes you ponder its relevance and who owns it.

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Yuri is a great kid. A little shy but cheeky at the same time. I always wonder what he is thinking about in this photo, perhaps his home and family in Belarus or maybe what lies ahead for days in the future. I think the vulnerability and poignancy of his face makes it an interesting portrait.

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This was from my ‘Loss of Tradition’ series. I met with a group of traditional Welsh dancers known as the Gweinyr Gwent, which translates to The Gwent Girls. The green in this woman’s dress combined with the white bonnet and auburn hair color worked perfectly against this dark backdrop. Also, her vacant stare adds another dimension to the image. The portrait has been shortlisted for the British Life Photography awards in the portrait category.

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I have included this image from a recent commission by Cerebra Children’s Charity. This is Kai who suffered a stroke when he was only a one-year-old and now suffers from cerebral palsy. Kai loves surfing and the charity designed a board that has been specially adapted for Kai to use. The charity has revolutionized the sport for surfers with disabilities. It’s a pretty stock standard editorial portrait, but the story behind it is very heartwarming and significant to me and lots of others.

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I like how there is so much happening in this photo. The juxtapositioning of everyone in the frame, the man sitting on the beach alone, someone else selling fruit, the boat in the background. I also feel a sense of serenity when I look at this picture. I think of the evening light and how relaxed everyone looks makes it look like it’s almost set up.

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For me, this photo is the essence of tranquility. I saw this woman laying on her back and floating in the warm Mediterranean Sea and just imagined how peaceful she must feel, like all the weight of the world has been lifted off her shoulders. I couldn’t imagine not being close to the ocean. I feel it has the ability to completely nourish and calm the soul. That’s why I like this picture: it’s an escape from the everyday work routine. It makes me appreciate traveling and being able to get away once in awhile.

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