Jason Figgis is an Irish film director and writer who began his career working for Murakami-Wolf Animation Studios on the TV series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Soon after he worked for Steven Spielberg at his London based Amblimation Studios on the feature An American Tail: Fievel Goes West.
Since then, over the past 20-years he has written and directed a wide range of indy films, television programs.
Recently Jason turned his attention to creating a documentary about the compelling work and life of British social documentary photographer Shirley Baker (1934-2014). Shirley’s street photography of the working class inner city areas, taken from 1960 until 1981 in Salford and Manchester as they experienced years of ‘slum’ clearance, came to define her vision.
Her engagement with the everyday world resulted in several different strands of work, many of which have not been exhibited. Although Shirley’s work is not well known outside the UK her work has been exhibited at the Tate Britain, Barbican Art Gallery, London, The Photographers’ Gallery London, James Hyman Gallery and The Louvre to name a few.
This quote of Shriley’s best describes her body of work:
“I love the immediacy of unposed, spontaneous photographs and the ability of the camera to capture the serious, the funny, the sublime and the ridiculous. Despite the many wonderful pictures of the great and famous, I feel that less formal, quotidian images can often convey more of the life and spirit of the time.” – Shirley Baker
Shirley’s work is a must-see for any serious street photographer so be sure to listen my conversation with Jason as he tells the story of Shirley, her influence, work and the making of the film Shirley Baker: Life Through A lens
A selection of Shirley Baker’s photos
Photographs by Shirley Baker / Courtesy the Estate of Shirley Baker