The Photography Game

29 February 2016

In this documentary story photographed by Sophie Mayanne, we give the floor to Marcus to tell the story from his point of view. The 19 year old photography student from London, scouted on a train station by the Boys by Girls team, is now being challenged both behind and in front of the lens. Marcus voices his experience as the camera is pointed at him and his surroundings in this image series.

Being in front of somebody else’s camera is a very vulnerable thing, especially if Sophie Mayanne is the photographer. You might find yourself sitting on your bed, stroking a mannequin’s face and wondering how you got there.

I’ll start from the beginning. My name is Marcus Sivyer, I’m a nineteen-year-old photography studying at Kingston College. Usually I’m the guy giving my models/family members weird and distracting tasks to do, so that I can capture the un-posed expressions that they may pull, but on the morning of the 27th January 2016 I was the dude getting photographed.

I would say I’m a pretty confident man in my daily life, but point a camera at me and my insides start to go all wobbly and my nervous smile appears. Before Sophie arrived, half my wardrobe was on the floor. I was in a right panic thinking that I might be wearing an outfit that didn’t quite float her boat. Obviously the logical thing to do is try on everything you own until you’re satisfied… right? Wrong! Panic number two struck me when I thought to myself, how am I going to clean the mess I have just made before Sophie gets here?

Sophie arrived: we sat down, she had a coffee, I had a cigarette and we just talked. To my delight the little debate we had about peanut butter and cheese sandwiches being the bee’s knees calmed me down enough for the faint memories of an untidy room and my nervous smile to almost disappear.

I loved this shoot, because it was shot in my house - the place I refer to as ‘yard’ to my Mandem. The patch of land where I feel most comfortable. When Sophie asked me to lie down on my kitchen floor, or to sit in my wardrobe and close my eyes, I did it, and I did it just like I would do on a normal day at home. I mean, some people might think its odd to do things like that, but I have lived in the same home for fifteen years. There isn’t much I haven’t done. Sophie continued to photograph me playing with my cat and dog (a.k.a the backup models) and me just being me. My confidence increased as the day drew old, and at some point I was so consumed in what I was doing, that I almost forgot my picture was being taken. In hindsight, Sophie managed to capture the un-refined, un-posed and rather feminine looking me.

Now the part where I tell you how much I have learnt. I’m a photographer, and being on the other side of the camera is a completely different experience I tell you. It doesn’t matter how bold or confident you are, every person has their own insecurities and gets a bit camera shy. Photographers like Sophie, gifted in making people feel at ease, in my eyes have got their game on (they know that photography isn’t as straight forward as it may seem). Sophie helped me go from crazy and nervous, to calm and simply being me. That’s a skill that I hope to develop in the future. Thank you Sophie, for teaching me that being a photographer goes way beyond just knowing how to use a camera.

Photography Assistant - Vilija Kasignaite.
Words by Marcus Sivyer.

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