Dan Donovan undertook an interesting project. To create a photographic documentary of smoking in the run-up to the smoking ban. He photographed smokers, smoking in places where it would soon become illegal.
I undertook this project with the aim of taking a series of portraits of smokers in locations that will be affected by the smoking ban; to archive the final moments of their freedom to smoke publicly.
This collection of work isn’t about either promoting or vilifying the act of smoking; it’s intended to capture an honest representation of smoking culture in Britain pre-July 2007.
The act of smoking has been increasingly demonised over the last number of years and these portraits take in individuals from all over England, from every walk of life, who were prepared to make a visual statement of their objection to being represented in this negative way.
The people here are law-abiding citizens who would be committing a criminal offence if they posed for a photograph in the same location today.
On my travels I met up with two people who work in the field of mental health, Kate Parry in Oxfordshire and Steve Thompson in Derbyshire. Steve says Nicotine has been shown to reduce the side-effects of psychoactive medication – more than 90 per cent of people with schizophrenia smoke, and nicotine is being used by self-medicating sufferers. Steve has been challenging attempts to try and outlaw smoking for patients.
You can see his collection of ninety smokers, and read the story behind it on his website.