There are many photos in the archive based around the housing issue in the UK: bad housing conditions, issues around ‘gentrification’ of working class areas, actions against evictions, squatting rights, homelessness, etc.
These 3 photos taken by John Sturrock in Liverpool in 1974 are a perfect illustration of the poverty of housing stock then and, judging by the subjects he has photographed, the poverty of the people forced to live under these conditions.
John is still working today and can be found here: johnsturrock
Some of his work, both from Report where he worked originally, and at Network which he helped to form later with two other ex-Report photographers, Chris Davies & Laurie Sparham, is available from reportdigital
John’s photography then was overtly political in character. He sought a response from anybody viewing his work; challenging them to ask why the situation was as he portrayed it and what were the solutions to the obvious problems that his photographs revealed.
And the people he photographed always had a dignity about them; they may have been victims of circumstance, but they were not ‘victims’ per se.
His ability to gain the immediate trust of those he photographed is evident here. He has obviously started by photographing the three young children playing in and around the run-down terraced housing; then their young mother has appeared and has agreed to be pictured on the steps of her house with her kids and in the next instance we are in her home with her and her children. Attempting to work in a similar fashion now, in a far less trusting and far more suspicious age, would be harder; but if a photographer has the right approach it is still possible.
As photographers at Report/IFL we always treated everybody we were photographing with equal respect, be they the Prime Minster or the person sweeping the streets. If you can’t relate to somebody when dealing with them face to face, there’s no way you will be able to relate to them with a camera held to your eye creating a further barrier between you.