CLOSE UP: Performance Photography by Maria Spadafora

Close Up: A series taking a close-up look at some of the favourite series of works from Shutter Hub's photographers.

Maria has been snapping away ever since her art teacher handed her a SLR as a teenager. Having worked in community media, arts, and education for about 20 years now, she’s always documenting something or other, or exploring this and that. Here she explains her Performance series…


In 2014 I was invited to join a team of official photographers documenting events for Yorkshire Festival – the first arts festival to accompany the Tour de France in its 111 year history – and the first ever cross-county festival, covering events in Leeds, Sheffield, Barnsley, Huddersfield, Todmorden and Bradford. It was brilliant, but nerve-wracking, and I felt a little fraudulent – I own books by some of the photographers I worked alongside! I then got to snap the infamous Leeds West Indian Carnival later in the year, and, as a member of Leeds Creative Timebank, I’ve worked with an array of wonderful artists to document their work.

I’m passionate about the arts and recently started a new post with Freedom Studios, an inter-cultural theatre company in Bradford, where I coordinate a range of education and participatory projects. I was the Community Engagement Officer with South Asian Arts UK, a Leeds based charity specialising in Indian music and dance, for 3 and a half years. There was always something or someone inspiring and wonderful to photograph with these art forms, and I adore Indian dance. Photographing performances and workshops often strikes an interesting balance between portraiture and documentary. I always aim to be stealthy and as un-obstructive as possible, which sometimes means missing interesting perspectives or moments, but I’ve been that audience member whose view is ruined by someone’s iPad, and it’s plain rude!

Although dressing people up for poses is fun, it’s capturing life and performance as it happens that I enjoy most. Dancers, musicians, visual arts, street theatre – I love photographing performance and learn something new from every single project.


Maria Spadafora will be showing her work in the Shutter Hub OPEN exhibition this year, with a Private View on 8 June 2015. You can see more of Maria Spadafora's work at her Shutter Hub profile, here.


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