2022 — Saudi Arabia
About this series
During the first half of 2022 I was given the wonderful opportunity to spend six months working in Saudi Arabia – travelling the country completing various documentary projects for one particular client. But I had time off and used that time to create my own project – this one.
I spent my weekends driving to remote towns and walking into the desert, almost at random, and exploring the suburbs of medium sized towns, in order to photograph the people and places that I found. It was constantly surprising and rewarding.
Saudi Arabia presents itself to the world as a very modern, even futuristic nation. It is developing ultra ambitious projects which seem like science fiction, for instance Neom. My goal was to show the parallel reality, the one that still has its roots in the Arabian sand, but does not have glossy websites or huge government funding. Saudi Arabia is full of people just trying to make ends meet, and people trying to get about, or finding things to do. In this way it’s no different to anywhere else in the world.
I don’t pretend that I’ve got anywhere close to representing Saudi as a country in a comprehensive way. But I would be pleased if I have shown in any way that in this parallel world, Arabia can be not strange and different, but in fact full of stories that are strikingly familiar to any of us.
James has been a photographer for over twenty years. His practice consists of his own projects, and creating narratives and stories for brands and editorial clients.
In 2023 he was awarded the Sony World Photo Portfolio prize for his work in Saudi Arabia. Previously years have seen awards from organisations including Creative Review, Aop, BJP. Based in London.