Siân: Portrait of a Photographer

“I would not normally, ever, want be on that side of the camera,” says Sian Davey, the subject of a short documentary by student filmmaker Dylan Friese-Greene.

The pair met when Davey was photographing her daughter, Martha, at a party in their hometown near Totnes in Devon. “Sian likes to make a point of getting to know the people she’s photographing, so naturally I got to know her really well,” says Friese-Greene, who is in his second year of film-making at Kingston University in southwest London.

“All of [Sian’s] images, for me, are of home, and my group of friends. So it’s quite a rare opportunity to have someone capture your own adolescence so beautifully. I connect with it a lot.”

© Sian Davey

In the film, Davey explains her process and method, but she also talks about her personal life and her children, who are the main focus of her photography. Davey opens up about her youngest daughter Alice, who has Down’s Syndrome, and the experience of raising a child in a world in which they feel unwelcome.

The lovely quality of this film is that I was off-guard,” says Davey, “I think he got me to where I needed to go in his questioning. I get asked the same questions all the time, he didn’t.”

“Of course I was going to say yes, but I didn’t know what it meant to say yes,” she continues. “You want to give something back, in the way they gave to me. It’s incredibly generous of all of them to give me permission to be near them and with them through their teenage years.”

Friese-Greene produced, directed and edited the documentary, with help from two friends – cinematographer Zach Brown, and Donald Watson, who produced the original score. The project was crowdfunded, largely with help from family and friends, and they hope to have it screened at film festivals this summer. Sian Davey will be exhibiting her work at Art Souterrain festival in Montrael, Canada, in March, and then at AIPAD in New York in April

© Sian Davey

© Sian Davey

© Sian Davey

Marigold Warner

Deputy Editor

Marigold Warner worked as an editor at BJP between 2018 and 2023. She studied English Literature and History of Art at the University of Leeds, followed by an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London. Her work has been published by titles including the Telegraph Magazine, Huck, Elephant, Gal-dem, The Face, Disegno, and the Architects Journal.