Documenting Womanhood in Scarborough

After being shortlisted for Graduate Fashion Week's Photography Award in partnership with size?, we caught up with emerging photographer Megan Jepson to discuss her latest book.

Could you tell us a little bit about your project, Scarborough Girls?

Scarborough Girls is an intimate look at the community, contradictions and complexity of the small town of Scarborough. It brings together the distinctive women who make up a unique portrait and an honest representation of modern seaside Britain, most notably during a time of substantial social change not just in our seaside towns, but communities around the country. As Scarborough is my hometown, it’s something very personal to me; it especially documents the restraints of various opportunities for women in these areas. Scarborough Girls celebrates both the thriving sense of community and the developments which have brought the town back to life.

Scarborough Girls celebrates both the thriving sense of community and the developments which have brought the town back to life.

Megan Jepson

Who or what made you interested in photography?

My interest in photography came from my Grandma; she had what I would call a ‘big camera’ (it was just an SLR) and always used to take photos of me, my siblings and cousins. I used to run off with the camera all the time and just never stopped from there. When I first got my own camera, I started taking classic photos of water droplets on leaves and extreme close-ups of bees on flowers – I like to think I’ve come a long way since then.

What mediums do you use? 

I focus on narratives via moving image and digital photography.

We’re a generation overwhelmed by images, why do you think it’s still important to document the entire spectrum of womanhood?

I think it’s especially important not only for this generation, but also for the generations to come as it tells the different stories of areas women come from and the broader communities’ which women are involved in. It provides everyone with a better awareness and understanding of the varied spectrum of womanhood. I wanted the viewers of this project to connect with at least one of the women in the book – so the documentation of the spectrum was a huge part of the project.

How do you meet your models? Are you attracted to a certain personality? 

Scarborough is very small, and the community is very tight-knit. I put out a casting call over social media and the local newspaper also published it, I got an overwhelming response. Most of the women in my family are in the book and a few of my friends too! I had a strong idea of who I wanted to be a part of the book, so that worked in my favour when coming to selecting my subjects. But yes, as I used no words throughout the book, a strong sense of personality had to be communicated through the eyes of the women.

What do you want your images to say about Scarborough?

I want them to be an honest representation of the women at this moment in time. I wanted them to shine a light on the town and the communities which come together to create a better tomorrow for future generations and also to show what the town was like in 2018; I hope it will be a part of local history one day.

What’s the local art scene like?

There are some fantastic artists, photographers, stylists etc. in the North! The level of talent, especially from the younger generations, is so inspiring to see!

Could you give us some pointers on what to do as a first time visitor to the town?

Honestly, this is very cliché for a seaside town but, straight to the beach and get fish and chips! We are fortunate and have some amazing beaches with some amazing views! Walking up to the castle and through old town is very scenic with a road titled ‘Paradise’ – I’d say it’s my favourite part of Scarborough.

It’s frustrating that people often ignore artists that aren’t based in London, so, unfortunately, more often than not we miss them. Are there any local artists that you admire and would like to introduce us to? I am surrounded by numerous creatives in so many different fields, as you said, the unfamiliarity towards artists outside of London gives us all drive and the urge to do more to be noticed which is so inspiring as a creative to be surrounded by. Everyone is trying to do more, and everyone is supporting each other which is the best part whether that be the models for the photographers or the photographers for the stylists. My course at university (@fashioncommnorthumbria) was so diverse regarding people’s creative endeavours which were great to be a part of every day.

But I do have some special mentions:

Eleanor Weitzer her work is so dreamy, and she’s a fantastic gal – we both work in events up in Newcastle, and I love seeing the work she creates! We are some of the only girls working in this field so unconditional support and admiration for her.

Liv Beck is one of my faves on my course her work has a voice and speaks for the people involved. Liv is one of the most genuine, down to earth and supportive girls I’ve ever met and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for her.

Terry Costello owns Savalas Models he may not be considered an artist, but the work he does for all the models especially being one of the only agencies up North is so inspiring. All the models are fantastic, and I understand the struggle to try break through the ‘not in London’ barrier.

Murray Orr he’s from way up in North Scotland, but the way he portrays and photographs his surroundings is so inspiring. My fave pic of his is the Robin in the snow!

You’ve recently graduated from Northumbria, what are your hopes and dreams for the future? 

Yeah! I can’t believe it’s come to an end! In the future, I want to be doing similar projects as Scarborough Girls but for brands such as developing brands culture and communicating them via storytelling with moving image and photography. I also would love to do campaigns and editorials for brands like the style of Scarborough Girls, I love the rawness and the grittiness and believe that’s the way brands are moving towards now.​