Sam Spickett is a professional photographic consultant to the humanitarian sector. Currently living in the United Kingdom Sam’s interests lie in the developing world. He hopes his work will be instrumental in change by bringing contemporary issues, such as marginalisation, poverty and associated health risks, to a global audience.
The media is oversaturated with clichéd images of starving children in Africa, casualties of war and victims of the global AIDS epidemic. Sam’s objective is to move beyond the portrayal of those in need as helpless victims of disaster or conflict. To achieve this he aims to take photographs that show a balance between resilience and vulnerability and that also represent the determination and fortitude of survivors.
Sam’s involvement in and approach to photo-documentation in the humanitarian environment aims to be as participatory as possible so as to meet the needs of the people his work aims to serve. Communications at the grass roots level is vital to ascertain how host communities wish to be represented and how their views are documented. A secondary aim of this approach is to dispel biases commonly associated with poorly managed projects.
Sam’s education is multi-faceted. After training at the London College of Printing in Photojournalism and Professional Photographic Practice, Sam went on to study for a BSc in Disaster Management and Engineering at the University of Coventry. To compliment this, later this year he will start a Masters in Anthropology of Development and Social Transformation at the University of Sussex, home to the renowned Institute of Development Studies, and currently ranked in the top 10 universities for this discipline. Sam believes the knowledge he will gain from this Masters programme to be key to the accurate portrayal of community dynamics and how they impact a community’s exposure to vulnerability and resilience.
In 2009, Sam’s education and photographic skills, led him to India where he worked for RedR India (Registered Engineers for Disaster Relief) as a communications officer. Following this he was employed in a similar capacity by Oxfam to support its South India Flood Response programme. Sam’s work involved the generation of situation reports and photo-documentation of the project from a team and logistics viewpoint and, most importantly, from the perspective of the local host communities.
In early 2010, Sam was employed by Oxfam as a professional photographic consultant. This role involved training the communications team at Oxfam’s head office in Delhi in digital photography, writing case studies and photo-documentation of a number of disaster risk reduction and livelihood projects across six Indian states.
In June 2010, just before the monsoon rains, Sam worked on the photo-documentation of a community based disaster risk reduction programme on behalf of Save the Children in West Bengal. The project, facilitated by RedR India, involved training local communities to cope with flooding through workshops on first aid, search and rescue (including early warning systems), relief camp management and psychosocial counselling.
Many of Sam’s photographs have been used in Oxfam India’s official brochures, strategy reviews and reports. Most recently his work has featured in Oxfam’s ‘Grow’ campaign. Launched in Assam on June 1st 2011 and simultaneously in 45 countries around the world, the ‘Grow’ campaign aims to sustainably feed the world’s growing population. Sam’s work also features in a number of RedR training publications and he was pivotal in the design of the most current RedR brochure that featured many of his photographs. In addition to his humanitarian communications work, Sam has had many images published in the national press in the UK and was short-listed from 6,500 entrants to the last 50 in the open category of the 2011 Sony World Photography Awards, receiving a commendation for his picture of two boys cycling in the pre-monsoon rains in India.