We’ve got a special treat for you today. Our tutor, Chris, is going to talk to us about long-term projects, and how spending months with a group of firefighters enabled him to capture some fantastic images.

Take it away, Chris.

Back in 2010, during my final year of study at university for one of my final folio pieces, I decided to document the country fire authority; to see what it took to be a firefighter. I spent 5 months over the year travelling 2 hours each time to reach the base where they were stationed to document their lives whilst on base. The recruits had 6 months of intensive training, where they learned the skills required to fight fires.

photojournalism course london project inferno by chris chan

(c) Chris Chan

photojournalism course london project inferno by chris chan

(c) Chris Chan

I was fortunate enough to be given access to all aspects of the training and I documented the physically and mentally demanding work of being a firefighter. In my mind, I wanted this to be long-form storytelling, and wanted to capture all aspects of their training, not just the firefighting. I tried to vary my photographs and not always photograph the fires – although they were the most exciting to photograph!

photojournalism course london project inferno by chris chan

(c) Chris Chan

photojournalism course london project inferno by chris chan

(c) Chris Chan

photojournalism course london project inferno by chris chan

(c) Chris Chan

Over the 5 months that I was there, I developed a close bond with the recruits and would be invited to photograph things that were often inaccessible to people on the outside. Doing a story over a long period gives you the opportunity to develop these bonds, and it is during these times when you are able to capture the best photographs. The subject is comfortable with your presence and they often forget that you are there, which allows you to act as a fly on the wall and tell a real story with your imagery.

photojournalism course london project inferno by chris chan

(c) Chris Chan

photojournalism course london project inferno by chris chan

(c) Chris Chan

photojournalism course london project inferno by chris chan

(c) Chris Chan

photojournalism course london project inferno by chris chan

(c) Chris Chan

If you’ve enjoyed these images, why not join us for our Photojournalism course on the 29th and 30th of September ran by Chris where we will give you all the tools and techniques you need to be able to capture amazing, news-worthy images. If you’re interested, email us at [email protected] or book online.