Polly Braden

Taken from: http://pollybraden.com/about/

Polly Braden has become renowned for her documentary photography exploring the relationship between everyday life, work, leisure and economics. Searching for small and telling gestures her images are acutely observed portraits and broader assessments of contemporary culture.

She works on long-term, self-initiated projects, as well as commissions for international publications. Her book China Between is published by Dewi Lewis, 2010, a selection of her work from China is included in the book Street Photography Now published by Thames and Hudson 2010. In recent years she has collaborated with journalists to produce extended photo-essays in the UK, the Middle East, Morocco, Kenya and China. Her photography has appeared in The GuardianThe Saturday Telegraph magazine, Ei8ht magazinePortfolio, ICONPhotoworksFrieze.

Braden teaches regularly at The University of Westminster and London College of Communication (LCC).  She taught photography at Xiamen University during a residency at the CEAC (Chinese European Art Centre) and at Kunming University during a residency at 943 studio.

Braden is a winner of the Jerwood Photography Prize, 2003 and The Guardian Young Photographer of the Year, 2002. She has exhibited at venues internationally including the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) 2005, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago 2006, Format International Photography Festival 2011, The Museum of London 2011Krakow Photomonth, Alias, 2011Minnie Weisz Gallery 2011London festival of Photography 2011 and the Hua Gallary, London 2012. She is winner of the Joanna Drew Bursary 2013.


I was drawn to Polly’s work when I was looking through a book on Street Photography, (Street PhotographyNow by Sophie Howarth and Stephen McLaren. In particular, her project on London’s Square Mile – a body of work  filled with grand architecture and small, interesting human interactions with it. London Square Mile is a study of life in the City, showing isolated figures against the polished facades of office buildings. As David Campany writes: “in the end a city is not its buildings, it is its people”

Taken at Liverpool St Station, this is made really strong by the red coats of the passer-by and the shop window, with all the shadow lines pointing towards them


The image below is actually from her China Between project, and shows restaurant staff being given a pep talk – there’d clothed people behind the glass window reflecting the rest of life, give a sense of the mysterious – underlined by the uniform appearances.


From her Courrier Japon project – the great shadow play along the steps, and the reflections on the wall behind the centrally placed figure climbing the stairs – another strong image of a man going about his daily routine


This, also from the Courrier Japon project has such fabulous geometry, and again, the centrally placed figure gives it scale and purpose


“To me photography is a time to think. Especially when I am doing my own work, it is a very reflective time.” Polly Braden


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