A Kingston University photography student, Cassian Gray, decided to promote the role of postal workers in his latest photoshoot The Posties.
The idea came during lockdown when media attention was focused on the coverage of the NHS staff and other essential workers.
“I began to think about other key workers that had been underrepresented. That’s when I considered the iconic uniform of the Royal Mail postal workers: the bold red of their uniform and vans, with the recognisable logo emblazoned on their fleeces and shirts,” said Gray.
In the beginning, he was not sure about how to approach the workers, worrying that “they would be busy on their shifts”. After a while, he found out about the Kingston sorting depot near his student accommodation and started to spend more time with the workers.
“The more time I spent there the more at ease the posties felt with my presence and the same faces kept appearing, asking how the project was going and having their portrait made,” Gray added.
As for the aim of the project, Gray says that he hopes to create more appreciation for the tireless work they do. He believes the job they do is often overlooked by many and can almost be considered an automatic process, forgetting the people behind the work.
“The images form an intimate portrait of the many individuals that keep our country connected, through rain or shine,” he explained.
He revealed his favourite picture amongst the series is the portrait of one of the postal workers named Michelle. It was one of the first portraits of the project, which explains the emotional connection the photographer has with it.
Gray remembers the moment he first approached her: “I’d seen her delivering letters along the road so I waited by the van and, as she came back to drive over to her next drop-offs, I stopped her, explained the project and made a portrait.”
Gray’s artistic vein was deeply influenced by his background. Surrounded by the canvases and colours of his painter mother, he started doing photography at age of 12 and has been in love with it ever since.
“Photography is everything really… It’s a way of communicating through a medium that can evoke feelings on a much deeper level than text and to create something visually compelling that resonates with people is incredibly rewarding,” he admitted.
The initial plan for his last university project was travelling to the south of Spain to shoot there and reunite with his father but the pandemic disrupted this idea. Gray was therefore forced to restrict his horizon and that is when The Posties project came to life.
“For the project on the posties, the pandemic provided a clear constraint, meaning that I had to focus my lens closer to home which was great for this project,” the photographer said.
Gray, whose latest work has already been displayed in the British Journal of Photography and in Creative Review magazine, is already working on his next project, focusing this time on urban spaces.
“I am fascinated by non-places and their purpose in our urbanised environment. The project aims to bring beauty to the banal,” Gray said.