Essexism Photography Project – Call-out for subjects


Mark Massey is a Southend based photographer with a keen interest in documenting stories in his home county. He is calling out for volunteers to be photographed as part of his Essexism portrait project.

On a visit to my local library, in Southend, I found that at least three dictionaries still contain definitions of ‘Essex Girl’ that use words such as ‘unintelligent’, ‘promiscuous’, ‘devoid of taste’ and ‘materialistic’. It’s this long-standing, pejorative stereotype that I am challenging with my ‘Essexism’ portrait project.

Mark Massey

Mark has been photographing women with a connection to Essex, aiming to include a diverse range of backgrounds, age, abilities, class, ethnicity, body shape, sexuality, geographical locations etc. Each portrait is a collaboration where Mark encourages suggestions on location and themes, so that sitters are projected in the way that they would like to be portrayed.

The portraits Mark has taken so far can be viewed at Mark’s website. Essexism will be exhibited at the Queen’s Theatre in Hornchurch next June. The project is supported with funding from Arts Council England.

So far quite a few actors, artists and sportswomen have participated (which is great), but I’d like to find more women with science, technology, engineering or maths backgrounds. I’d also like to collaborate with women who do jobs that are traditionally thought to be a ‘male’ occupation, such as bricklayers or firefighters.

Mark Massey

If you would like to volunteer you can contact Mark via Instagram @markjmassey, Twitter @markmassey99 or email

Fancy trying some portrait photography? Visit our resources page to read and download Mark’s excellent Tips and Advice article for the Chelmsford City Photo Comp Blog.

Do you know a pioneering woman from Essex?
Get involved in Essex 2020’s #PioneeringEssexWomen campaign on social media.
Read all about it here.