Photographer snaps up chance to work with young offenders

PHOTOGRAPHER Kirsteen Ashton has moved from corporate photo-shoots to capturing the lives of young offenders.

The self-taught Leeds photographer has given up her summer to capture the lives of young people from West Yorkshire who have been in trouble with the police.

She has documented their personal journeys through a combination of images, internet blogs and film.

Her social documentary – A Different Window – is based on the idea that if the young people see the world differently, they may react to it differently.

It also marks a personal change in direction, from commercial photography to becoming more of a photo-journalist.

The six-week Summer Arts College, held at the Serendipity Art Centre, Batley, and in partnership with Kirklees Youth Offending Team, aims to challenge young people aged between 14 and 18.

Now in its third week, her project has captured several shots which capture the fragility of seemingly "tough" youths.

The event will culminate in the screening of a short film, made by young people, about the dangers of the drug M-CAT.

There will also be an exhibition of the young people's artwork as well as Kirsteen's photographs and an accompanying book.

This project also challenges people's views of young offenders, according to Kirsteen.

"When you look beyond the attitude, they are all someone's daughter or someone's son," she said.

"With the recent rise in public angst amidst the planned removal of Asbos, my project will highlight the capabilities of young offenders, showing that with the right guidance, their energy can be positively channelled."