East Croydon Cool talks…HOM[E]AGE Croydon

East Croydon Cool talks…is a blog series that explores topics of cultural interest via local area experts. This month we caught up with Sophia Carey, a freelance photographer and designer who grew up in Croydon, to talk about her latest project HOM[E]AGE.

HOM[E]AGE explores the themes of coming of age and of home; exploring the way that people interact with their environment and how the people and places that they engage with influence their person, their ideologies and their craft. Sophia has started the project in the town she grew up, with HOM[E]AGE Croydon focusing on the towns and places that make up the London Borough of Croydon, and the people that enrich it. It is a homage to the place and the people.

Firstly, how did you get into photography and videography?
My initial journey into photography was through studying graphic design and using a camera to capture photographs for my design work. From there, I started to attend music events around London (mostly South) with my camera and build up connections on the hip hop and grime scene.

What was the inspiration behind the HOM[E]AGE project? 
HOM[E]AGE was initially inspired by a desire to re-write the narrative around Croydon. It’s no secret that the press around Croydon can be particularly negative, but my perception of Croydon – and especially the people I meet from Croydon – has starkly contrasted those negative connotations. Some of the most dedicated, hard-working and talented individuals I know have grown up in and around Croydon and I really wanted to create a project that showcased that.

Why did you start in Croydon? What other areas do you plan to capture?
I’ve started the project in Croydon because that’s where the initial idea was born. Croydon is a place that I attribute a lot of my growing up and coming of age too and has massively developed me into the person and the creative that I am today. Whilst I live in Manchester now, it was important to me to pay homage to the area that first formed me. Next on the cards for HOM[E]AGE is definitely going to be Manchester; which has been my home for the last three years since I moved here for uni. Croydon and Manchester together really tell the story of my coming of age.

How did you go about choosing the people and places you featured?
The places, so far, have just been areas that are important to me. Eventually, once I’ve covered all of those areas, I’ll be location scouting to develop the series further. In terms of the people, for the first series I incorporated a lot of people that I already know, as well as people that I see making positive changes within the community. Really, what I’m looking for is people with qualities that I want to showcase: hard work, dedication, talent, to name but a few.

Did anything surprise you about the process?
I wouldn’t say that anything surprised me, per se, but I did learn a lot about things that the people I interviewed had done or were contributing to the community that I wasn’t aware of before. That just really re-affirmed that they were the right choices to showcase in the project.

Was there a common thread to how interviewees felt about their hometown?
Overwhelmingly, people were proud to be from Croydon. All of the people I interviewed could recognise how the borough had shaped them or influenced them in their craft, which was really nice to hear.

How has the project been received so far? 
So far the response has been great. I’ve been working on the project for a long while now, having started it back in 2019, and so it’s really great to see people take to the project so well. I’ve also had a lot more people from the borough get in touch and say they want to be involved, which I’m really excited to make happen as soon as possible.

What’s next for the project…we hear there’s a book in the planning?!
There’s a lot planned! We’ve got some more interviews yet to film, which have had to be postponed due to COVID-19, as well as a book on the way! I’m also planning an event, hosted in Croydon, to celebrate the project but that’s also dependent on the current pandemic. I’d definitely say keep your eyes peeled, though!

Watch the trailer for the project here:

Watch the first episode of the project here:

Watch the second episode here:

Watch the third episode here:

Watch the fourth episode here:

Watch the fifth episode here:

Watch the final episode here:

To keep up to date on future episodes of HOM[E]AGE Croydon, subscribe to Sophia’s You Tube HERE.

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