As an avid lover of photography, it is a great moment when I discover a photographer whose work truly inspires me.
How someone is able to take a photo of something so simple, be it a person, a place, an object, and tell a whole story through it completely blows my mind and leaves me feeling rather envious.
That is exactly how I felt when I came across the work of Falmouth University Press and Editorial Photography student, Peter Flude.
I met with Peter on a blisteringly cold Cornish morning when he walked in – quite appropriately I might add – carrying a steaming Cornish pasty.
At the end of October, Peter was named Visual Journalist of the Year at the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme’s first ever Student Journalism Awards. From a shortlist of three people, selected by acclaimed journalists Nick Robinson and The Spectator’s Isabel Hartman, Peter won the coveted award and a 2-week work placement at the Today Programme.
“It was kind of crazy. I didn’t really think I was going to win, I wasn’t expecting to get anything from it, but then I did. It was a nice surprise.”
Peter grew up in Chichester, West Sussex, and first got a flavour for photography during a trip to New York City for his art GCSE. After studying photography at A-level, he took a gap year and spent a lot of his time taking photos. It was during this year that he realised his preference for commercial photography over fine art photography.
“I did loads of fine art photography at A-level, that was really all they covered, they didn’t really cover anything commercial based.
On my gap year I started going out and photographing random events and stuff that was going on and I found I preferred that. I wanted to do something that was actually going to help me get a career in photography, I wanted to take photos for living, so I leaned more towards press and editorial.”
The submission that won him Visual Journalist of the Year included three projects which exemplify his style and talent. One submission, a film titled Nations United, documents a refugee football team from his home town in Chichester. The second, another film titled Addicted to Cold, documents a group of sea swimmers in Bude focussing, in particular, on a lady called Katherine. The final element was a selection of five photos from a series he had previously shot for The Guardian on the charity Surfers Against Sewage.
Peter’s individual style is clearly recognisable. With the crisp colour, focus, and contrast, his images depict people, places and stories in a beautifully visual format. Nothing is unnecessarily extravagant, his subjects are simple, yet detailed, and he conveys the beauty of humble, everyday stories and people.
“I was quite self-motivated during my A-levels to take a lot of photos. I watched loads of YouTube tutorials on everything to do with editing and photographing. I developed my style from there and from what I like to take photographs of.”
Something I always find myself asking photographers, artists, musicians, anyone in the creative industry really, is ‘where do you find inspiration?’ Peter’s answer was simple: “I just look around to see what sounds interesting. Sometimes I’ll think up something on my own, like a project idea, and then just go out and start doing it. It’s just about looking around and seeing what interests me.”
This year has seen no shortage of awards for Peter. Along with his win at the BBC Student Journalism Awards, Peter’s work also won him first place in the ‘Multimedia’ category at Falmouth University’s Press Awards, and a spot on the prestigious Canon Student Photojournalism Programme. In 2017, he also claimed first place in the ‘News Series’ and ‘Portrait Series’ categories at the Falmouth University Press Awards.
His work is admired by students and staff alike. Fellow Press and Ed student, Lucy Sarjeant, said of Peter: “He puts a great deal of time and energy into everything he does. No matter what he is photographing, he manages to create beautiful and captivating images that tell a story. With every image the viewer can gain a connection between themselves and the subject.”
Speaking to Gretchen Viehmann, head of Press and Editorial Photography at Falmouth University, she was quick to praise Peter’s work. “Peter embodies the ethos of the Press and Editorial Course in his enthusiasm for visual storytelling. His creativity and ability to craft stories with great diversity has seen him win accolades every year he has been on the course and we as an academic team are incredibly proud to see his work develop so beautifully.”
Gretchen herself is an acclaimed photographer having been the director of photography at both the New York Post and the New York Daily News before joining the team at Falmouth University in 2008. In 2014, she became head of the Press and Editorial Photography course.
Before we parted ways, I had one final question for Peter: ‘what do you want to achieve with your photos?’ After a moment of consideration, he said, “I want people to be interested in my work in the same way that I am. I want it to ask questions, make people curious and more aware of things. And I want them to connect emotionally with it.”
Peter’s work can be viewed here: http://www.peterflude.co.uk