Yasser Alaa Mobarak
"I will be happy to be a critical friend of RPS to engage more youth and students in RPS's activities. I have been working in the youth sector for 12 years in educational and photographic projects. I'm an award-winning photographer, teacher and judge. I'm an International Youth Representative at the International Education and Resource Network where I represent and organize projects for 2 million students all over the world. I worked with Adobe Youth Voices, Youth Journalism International, Delhi College of Photography and Romania National Creativity Contest. I have many ideas to increase the engagement of youth in RPS."
Yasser Alaa Mobarak is an award-winning photographer from Alexandria, Egypt. He has won photography prizes from Sony World Photography Awards, National Geographic Traveler India, National Geographic Egypt, Travel Photographer of the Year, International Federation of Photographic Art, Photographic Society of America and Prix De La Photographie Paris. Yasser's works have been featured in The Guardian, VICE, National Geographic Magyarország, National Geographic Srbija, Digital Camera World Magazine, Amatuer Photographer Magazine, Photographer's Forum Magazine, N-Photo Magazine, Smart Photography Magazine, Silvershotz Magazine, Adobe Blog and PBS NewsHour. He is holder of AFIAP distinction from the International Federation of Photographic Art, Licentiate Distinction (LRPS) from Royal Photographic Society and Associateship from Image Colleague Society International. He was judge at Adobe Youth Voices Awards, Big China Circuit, Baku Salon, Romania's National Creativity Contest, The Photographic Angle and Youth Journalism International Contest. He is visiting Faculty at Delhi College of Photography and Author at Digital Photography School.
"I work both as a Corporate Event Producer and as a Photographer and I’m committed to promoting women in photography. My photography practice is influenced by an interest in community especially in my local area - Harrow. The central concerns of my work are themes of community, diversity, memory and belonging drawing from local archives, the Internet, and personal narratives. I have an MA in Photography and Urban Culture from the Goldsmith University and a BA in Photography from the University of Westminster.
I am also a member of an all female collective called FORM, our work has been shown throughout the UK including Brighton Photo Festival and FORMAT Derby."
"The idea and purpose of the RPS Critical Friends group really enthuses me; I’m extremely passionate about diversity, inclusion and accessibility within the arts – and especially within the photography industry. On one level this subject is very personal to me, as someone who has experienced barriers to access both in terms of engaging with the RPS and in the photography industry more generally. I would love to be part of a group which is working towards removing some of these barriers, as I would especially like to try and ensure that photographers of a similar background to me face fewer difficulties in the future. More than that, I believe that encouraging diversity within an art-form opens us up to a whole new range of artistic possibilities and perspectives – something which we can all benefit from!
My background will allow me to provide a valuable perspective to this group. I am (relatively!) young, transgender and from a working-class background in the North of the UK. I am also a part-time professional photographer, and my work focuses on representing and empowering those who don’t often get to see themselves represented in images. My current project Bristol Trans Portraits aims to promote visibility and understanding of the trans community through portrait photography. I believe that all this makes me a good candidate for the Critical Friends group, as my experiences are different to that of many other photographers, and I am especially well placed to advise on LGBTQ issues.
Beyond this, I will also bring a strong sense of empathy and a balanced approach. I firmly believe that the RPS – and the photography industry more generally – needs to undergo changes in order to become more inclusive and accessible. However I also understand that there are likely to be many current members who feel very passionate about the organisation, and might be scared or wary about the idea of it changing. If appointed to the Critical Friends group, I would ensure that I am open to a variety of different opinions, and would aim to take an approach in which all parties feel listened to and represented."
"As a critical friend and someone who is on the Autistic Spectrum I am keen to be involved in the community by helping other people with autism manage the difficulties they face and also by increasing other people’s awareness of these challenges.
In addition to my first-hand experience of autism, I have spent a number of years working in schools, supporting children with special educational needs.
I was recently awarded a Fellowship distinction by the RPS for a panel of images which illustrates how my heightened visual awareness manifests itself in everyday life as a result of my autism. I am passionate about both photography and autism and I would like the opportunity to show how photography can be used as a means of creative expression to voice a person’s individuality."
Mervyn Mitchell (Chair)
Mervyn is a staunch advocate for the use of photography as a means to engage and inspire communities and individuals. It is his expertise in this area which he brings to the RPS.
Within his photographic practice over the past 12 years he has worked as the Community Engagement Officer for The New Art Exchange ( the largest gallery in the UK dedicated to culturally diverse contemporary visual arts) and with schools, using photography to help bridge the gap between urban and rural schools, and introduce black role models through photography workshops.
10 years ago (until present day) he co-founded the Nottingham Photographer’s Hub, giving a voice to marginalised people and communities. They work with Adults with mental ill-health and Young People who are not in education, employment or training. During this time Mervyn has gained an MA in Photography, and continues to develop his personal photographic skills and knowledge.
"My career in aviation was cut short by a sudden and severe illness in 2001 which has now left me with a lifelong disability. I had to quickly come to terms with the fact that my life had changed and that I had to accept a new normal. While flying aircraft around the world I had always taken a camera with me, but what was once just a hobby has now become a driving force in my day to day life. I joined the DPS on recommendation from a friend who was in a wheelchair and who never let that get in the way of him taking some great images. The sudden change from being a fit and healthy individual to the realisation that life is not going to ever be the same again is a difficult one to cope with. In many ways I owe my sanity to photography for giving me a new purpose in life.
Inclusivity is a word that is often bandied around by people who often have very little understanding of what it actually means to be excluded and often even less idea of how easy it can be to fix that. It is vitally important that those who need to be included have a voice in discussions around the issue. Even the best of groups often come up short because of a lack of fully understanding the issue. I am more than happy to assist in any way that I can to ensure that nobody gets left behind."
(Tom Molloy is Chairman of the Disabled Photographers’ Society)