Snappy Valley: The small market town with the big lockdown story to share

Categories: School of Arts, Media and Creative Technology

Lāsma Poiša, a Technical Demonstrator in the School of Arts, Media and Creative Technology, is gaining acclaim for her community-led photographic project Snappy Valley.

Lāsma, who is a photographer outside of work and completed an MA in Socially Engaged Photography, got involved in the initiative as part of her studies.

“Lockdown happened last year and it completely took on a life of its own – it very much documented that particular time,” she said.

Snappy Valley is a process-led community photography group founded by Lāsma in Todmorden, a small West Yorkshire market town in the North of England.

The aim of the group was to engage the local community in a photography project with a view to develop participants’ individual creative practice as well as create a socially engaged and collaborative body of work.

Since March 2020 the group have made a large body of work capturing their personal lockdown experiences.

“Documenting that particular time in lockdown is what made this project very poignant to all of us,” said Lāsma. “When you look back at those images you get slight anxiety as it was such a strange time. Honestly, the images have the power to take you back immediately to that time of uncertainly. For that reason, they carry a lot of weight.”

Excitingly Snappy Valley has recently been shortlisted in the People’s Choice category at the Creative Lives Awards, a charity which champions community and volunteer-led creative activity, and works to improve opportunities for everyone to be creative.

Lāsma’s work with Snappy Valley is also currently being show at the Open Eye Gallery as part of their Collective Matters exhibition. Gallery 2 showcases work by recent Socially Engaged Photography graduates from the University of Salford.

This growing area of practice explores the power of photography when working with real communities to co-author meaningful culture.

“Socially engaged photography is becoming much more well-known”, she said. “A lot of photographers are moving that way, working together with communities to document that place collaboratively. It’s a much more inclusive process.”

When asked about what she likes to capture behind the lens Lasma loves shooting portraiture and one of her passion projects is photographing people with their cats.

“I have met so many people in Todmorden through capturing local people with their cats. Their pets work almost like a gateway to get to know them. People seem to open up more when around their animals,” she said.

Watch a video on Snappy Valley.

You can read more about Lāsma’s work on her website.

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