Working Locally: Daragh Soden & Marina Vitaglione

On Photography
Daragh Soden's image Looking for Love, taken in 2019

Taking photographs within a specific locality, whether as part of one’s personal practice or as a commission, can be both rewarding and challenging.

Shot in Soho exhibiting photographer Daragh Soden and Marina Vitaglione, Commissioning Editor at Panos offer tips on the theme of ‘working locally’. This event forms part of our regular networking event series for photographers called The Social.

Advice from Daragh Soden:

Shoot what you know: My work Looking for Love [commissioned by The Photographers’ Gallery for the Shot in Soho exhibition] was based on what I was doing at the time. Shoot the subject that’s unique to you.

Shoot local: A project doesn’t need to cover a big issue or extraordinary place. My first project was about young people in Dublin, where I’m from.

The ordinary is exotic: Everyone has something unique about them. Some of the best pictures are ordinary domestic scenes.

Have a strategy for making photographs: For my Young Dubliners project, I knew exactly the kinds of places where young people would be because it’s the same places I used to hang out. After a few shoots, I knew the kind of questions people would ask so I memorised answers that I could blurt out quickly, easing both my nerves and theirs.

Shoot + then think, then shoot again: I take my first photos without thinking, then I look at them and work out a strategy. Then I go back and shoot some more.

Advice from Marina Vitaglione:

Research the story and who you are shooting for: How can the story be told visually? What can you find out about the location? If it’s a commission, what is your brief and schedule, and what is the client’s style, what are their expectations? Who is the target audience?

Meet the team: If you are working with a journalist or team, meet or speak with them ahead of time to go through the logistics and photography brief. There likely will not be enough time to do that while shooting.

Understand your relevance to the story: What added value can you bring to the story? This might be language, knowledge of an issue or location, or simply the ability to obtain access.


Daragh Soden is an artist and photographer from Dublin, Ireland living and working in London. His breakthrough project, Young Dubliners, captured young people in his hometown at a time of national economic upheaval and won him the Grand Prix du Jury at the Hyères Festival of Fashion and Photography in 2017. In more recent and ongoing work, Soden has looked at the performance of identity, for example in Queens and Me, an ongoing series of portraits of drag queens in which he also appears.

Marina Vitaglione is the assignments and social media editor at Panos Pictures. She began her career in photography at Fabrica research centre in Treviso, Italy, where she did a year-long residency as an editorial photo researcher. She then worked at the Magnum Photos Paris office, assisting the cultural and exhibitions team, before joining Panos in 2018.