A Life in Beet

Another portrait from the social portrait series, taken in 2019.

Alex Mason – A life in Sugar Beet Spoken in his own words in 2019.

“if you’re a long way from it, it’s quite a pleasant smell”It was long journey to Norfolk, in fact I guess it all started around 1960.I had just got my Highers (education) in Fife and got a job in a laboratory in Scotland. After a while I was offered a management course, which ultimately saw me take management positions at factories in Shropshire, Kings Lynn, Newmark and eventually to Cantley in 1990, where I was manager until 2007.

From there, I also took on responsibility for the Ipswich and Downham market site.I started to have meetings with the local community, we built relationships and became an integral part of the community. It was an enjoyable place to work and be part of.

I’m firmly part of Norfolk now, in fact, many years ago we were part of the Norfolk Caledonian society, I was secretary for the society for a time and although this doesn’t continue anymore, we still meet twice a year for lunch.


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Portrait of Karina | Norwich

Continuing with the portrait theme and stories about positive immigration.I shot this portrait of Karina in Norwich around two years ago, as part of the Portraits project of people (still ongoing) who live, work and have moved to Norfolk & Suffolk.

Spoken in her own words.

“I come from San Paulo, Brazil and this is my second time in the UK, we came to Norwich this time as my Husband got a job working for Aviva. The first time we were in the UK was 2014, when we were based in Bexley Heath in Kent, but this was not a good experience for me because I could not speak English and my daughter was only 6 months old.

I found it difficult with communication and I didn’t feel good at all, so we went back to Brazil whilst my Husband remained working in the UK, because he was unable to find a job back in Brazil due to the economic situation. I went to university to study management. I then decided to return to the UK to try again and I now feel very happy here. I can’t explain what happened the first time, but something made me feel bad, but now I would really like to stay here. Norwich I love, with the Broads, nature and you can do a lot outside, even if the weather is not great.

The schools are very good here also. I have made friends through my English class also. All my Family are in Brazil, it was just my Husband, Daughter and myself who have come to the UK. We hope to visit them in August time. It is very difficult to leave when we go home, a little bit of my heart remains there, but I am also excited to come back here, it feels like home. I am hoping to do volunteer work to help progress my English and get to know more people. I think volunteering is good as I can give my time to help others, and give my experiences to others. We have lived in Portugal for 9 years, my Daughter is Portuguese. I didn’t come from a rich family and we had financial difficulties, I had lots of different jobs. I started working when I was 13 years old to help my Family, cleaning houses. I gave all my money I earnt to my Mother”


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The places I shoot!

The things we Photographers do to get ‘that’ shot… I must admit, it was a joy to be out shooting imagery again for clients… and on a wintery day, what better place to be that climbing a grain store in the Northamptonshire countryside!

Those memories of a fun childhood climbing grain stores & jumping off hay bales came flooding back

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Ash – Envy Barbers | Lowestoft

Good luck to all those retailers/pubs/gyms& hairdressers opening this week! Whilst working on some lockdown portraits, I popped over to Envy Barbers in Lowestoft and shot this striking portrait of owner Ash.

I don’t normally shoot portraiture this wide, but felt with his striking furniture and colours suited the angles perfectly.


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“We are the last of the hunters”

“We are the last of the hunters”
Photographed in 2019 as part of theportraits.co.uk social documentary series and spoken in his own words.
Lowestoft Skipper Melvin.

At 16 I went to sea, I was a merchant seaman, travelling around the world and learning a lot.
In my late twenties I returned home and had a family – it’s my hobby that is my job. It’s a job you can’t do for the money, you must want to do it.
Being a born optimist is a requirement. Just because you didn’t catch finish last month or last week, doesn’t mean you won’t tomorrow. You must remain positive.

Generally, things go in cycles, nature goes in cycles, that’s just part of life.

We catch a lot of Welks. Of course, Fishing is very seasonable, summer is completely different to Winter. Then it’s mainly long lines, catching Cod, Skate, dog-fish, seabass etc. In the summer we mainly use nets, catching dove sole, whiting, plaice, brills, turbots.
It’s traditionally been like this for smaller vessels for many years.
Sadly now, it’s virtually impossible for a young person to join the industry and create a lifestyle to suit.

The boat is called the four daughters, a reflection of my lovely family.
You find a clean shiny boat; I’ll show you a boat that doesn’t go to sea. It’s a dirty, grimy job, but hugely enjoyable. In Winter it can be tough, 4am starts when everyone else is in bed, it’s dark, cold and wet and I’m off to sea. It’s certainly not for everyone.


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Presenting #KQPrivateView with @AgeUKCamden about my images from May 2020

Delighted to be presenting on Thursday @ the Knowledge Quarter in London, talking about some of my imagery from May 2020 and my time spent with Age UK Camden during their #Covid19 community response.

What’s the visual story behind @AgeUKCamden’s response to the pandemic?

On 25 March at our #KQPrivateView, photographer @Jules_Foto will be highlighting Age UK Camden’s passion for providing services for people in a challenging environment.

Book: http://ow.ly/Z0H150DYMYn

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Day 13 Cycling to Rwanda… a shop keeper | Mijatovac, Serbia

Day 13 of cycling from Suffolk to Rwanda… on a another epic day in the saddle (total of 102 miles) I had cycled roughly 80 miles when I came across this wonderful little store on the outskirts of a village near Mijatovac in Serbia – it was a wooden shack by the road and was a real godsend as energy levels were dipping!

Chomping down on bread, biscuits and coca cola, I replenished my energy levels sitting on a stool inside the shop, attempting to communicate with this lovely lady.

We didn’t really understand each other, but it’s amazing what a smile does. Thankfully she posed for a photo (I just loved the aesthetics of the small wooden building), becoming part of my story of the life changing journey I was on.
Interestingly, as I was packing the bag and leaving, a chap in a new Mercedes pulled up and chatted in depth with her, asking me who I was & what I was doing in this part of Serbia.

He was nice enough – but I later found out he would have been part of the local mafia


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Llessa, Eastern Desert, Egypt

Over the coming weeks, I’ll be uploading a selection of portraiture that I shot in 2012 when I cycled through East Africa.
These portraits represent some of the remarkable people I met throughout the 5500 mile cycle adventure.

Ilessa. Photographed in Egypt, 2012.
The story of how I met IIessa is a fascinating one.
Awaiting the ferry to Sudan, I was based in Aswan for an extra 7 days, meeting locals, recovering from illness and preparing for the harsh Sudanese desert.
I decided to stretch the legs and cycled north along dusty tracks out of Aswan into the desert. After roughly 20 miles I came across a small oasis. It was a truly spectacular scene. No infrastructure and just locals on donkeys and the odd beaten up car. I remember it well, it was roughly 43 degrees and seeing this small Oasis was a god send. Standing drinking some lukewarm water, a young lad came over on his donkey. We chatted and he invited me to his house. Following a series of tracks I arrived at a small house deep within the Oasis. I spent four hours in the company of the family, meeting cousins, uncles and friends. They were incredibly hospitable people, providing me with fresh pita, meat and fruit.
During this time I met Lessa, a beautiful young girl who was happy to pose for a portrait.
I took her address (managing to keep it safe through the rest of Africa!) and sent her copies of the photos to her father.
I feel incredibly blessed to have had these interactions with such honest kind individuals.

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Egyptian Taxi Driver

Over the coming weeks, I’ll be uploading a selection of portraiture that I shot in 2012 when I cycled through East Africa.

These portraits represent some of the remarkable people I met throughout the 5500 mile cycle adventure.

I met this Taxi Driver on a side street in Aswan, Egypt, while held up in a hostel waiting for the ferry to Sudan. He was an incredibly charming guy, we sat, drank karkade and smoked shisha, talked about the elections and the uprising. His fears for the country after Mohamed Morsi (pictured on election posters) took power and what he wanted for the future.

He was deeply concerned about the country and his fears proved to sadly be correct.

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Geoff Stevens | Pathways Care Farm | Lowestoft

Geoff Stevens                   Pathways Care Farm, Lowestoft

Photographed in 2019 as part of the Water Mills & Marshes funded work, theportraits.co.uk – spoken in his own words.

“It’s about treating people with dignity and respect”

“I lived in London and have been a graphic designer all my life, I loved the art of the job, but disliked certain elements of the industry.
What I do now is great. It’s such a joy.
We don’t do therapy; the therapy is being here. Everyone wants to make an impact in life and that’s what we do here at Pathways.

My father-in-law had dementia and I remember thinking, there has to be something more than day care, going to a centre and playing bingo in a room with beige walls. As if by some twist of fate, the opportunity then presented itself to start Pathways.
When we arrived with spent the first 18 months pulling up brambles, literally trying to clear the site, a blank canvas really.
It’s the place and the people that do the therapy, we don’t plan the therapy it just happens.
We recently had someone come to the farm who had been diagnosed with dementia, he was a retired builder and said to me “that’s the end of my life”. That really struck home, I explained what we did and he got involved. Within a few short weeks he was building, working on projects and became part of team, just like his old job. It was a release and enabled him to continue his life, without the fear of sitting in a room, staring at a TV all day, or playing bingo!

We work with all manner of people, including ex-offenders, people with mental health issues and those in the community who may just need some company.  Every day is different at Pathways. Walking around the farm, you can work the land, wander around the pond, go to the bird hide, through the orchard, care for the animals, it is truly immersive.

It is about treating people with dignity and respect. Something that is lost in some parts of society”

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