I’ve seen a lot whilst living amongst a large multicultural community. One of the most significant impressions is the unnecessary use of stereotyping and manipulation. This has been a strong concern of mine for numerous reasons. Time after time, I see labels placed on individuals or groups of individuals. This is commonly done without considering the real consequence a label can have. From this I decided to further my research and find out just how harmful stereotyping can be.

In society today, people seem to be targeted due to prejudiced opinions. I’ve noticed these hostile opinions affecting the social behaviour and status of different cultures. So I took myself to the streets to interview and photograph individuals and decided to set a question to all the people I engaged with: What did you want to be or achieve when you grew up? In my opinion this is a fairly simple question that almost everyone should be able to respond to. It portrays the message that no matter what one person wants to be, no matter what choice or dream they make, the option is out there for them.

I found that these shoots were difficult to complete, as it was not as simple as organising a shoot with a model. I had to complete my shoots in the streets with random individuals and strangers. Rejection was a big factor, which was hard for me. I asked 10 to 15 people per day if I could take their photograph and only one or two agreed. It was a hit and miss sort of shoot. I wanted to run social experiments to see what makes people more approachable and try other techniques to persuade people to have their picture taken.

For any other enthusiastic photographers who find it difficult talking to individuals in the street, I would highly recommend trying this and pushing through. My social skills have grown and developed simply by engaging in conversation. When successful, I had the ability to keep calm and not feel as nervous about approaching the next potential shot. If an individual showed interest in my project or shared similar interests, I was able to keep the conversation flowing in an engaging manner.

The images in my series will be portraiture photographs of the individuals’ faces, aiming to show the various different styles and subcultures, each with its unique qualities and similarities, while simply celebrating our generation of youth culture.

This is also part of an on-going project called Inside Out, defined as “a global art project transforming messages of personal identity into works of art”. Inspired by JR, who made his name as a graffiti artist on the streets of Paris and now owns one of the biggest art galleries in the world, it gives everyone the opportunity to share their portrait and make a statement about what they stand for.

Instagram: @ryatesphoto

Ryan Yates