Florence. Cheer Up Luv.

Elevate Talks: Eliza Hatch

Eliza Hatch is a photojournalist from London. Since January 2017 she has been working on a project called Cheer Up Luv, a photo and interview series, retelling women’s accounts of street harassment. The project combines photography with journalism, activism and social media and has gained interest from women all over the world. The women are photographed in public places related to their experience of harassment, then the stories are featured on cheerupluv.

How would you define your work?

My work is a combination of photojournalism, activism and social media.

What’s the best about photography?

I am a film photographer, so when I am shooting you really feel like you are capturing a moment in time. With a project like this where you are trying to translate personal and sensitive emotions from the subject, it really makes a difference being able to capture the expressions in a finite form such as film.

Reannon. Cheer Up Luv.

What’s the worse about photography?

All of my shoots are conducted on location, as I try to recreate the scene where the woman experienced harassment. This means that you are always in public, and that can be uncomfortable at times for the woman getting her photo taken. So I always try and create a safe space and comfortable atmosphere for the woman, however it is not uncommon to get harassed by bystanders and passing men whilst shooting. They often ask us to smile, and if we are models. I even had one man drive past, stop, and ask for a blow job whilst on a shoot. Its completely ironic, and is sometimes extremely unpleasant, but also reinforces why I’m doing what i’m doing.

Olivia. Cheer Up Luv.

On a scale from 1 to 10, how important is social media for your work?

I would say that my project owes a lot of its success to having Instagram as a platform to connect with people from all over the world. Is has been such an easy way to reach a wide audience, and share the stories. It also provides a place where women can directly contact me to share their experiences and get involved in the project.

How did “Cheer Up LUV” come up? What’s the process of getting a picture of a woman like? How do you contact them?

The themes behind Cheer Up Luv have been a constant factor in my life, but it was only when a man on the street walked past me and told me to “Cheer up”, that it really bothered me. That single phrase, which I am used to hearing, finally irritated me so much to the point where I needed to do something about it. It prompted me to have a conversation with my girlfriends about harassment and we ended up story swapping for over an hour, talking about sexual harassment like it was the most normal thing in the world. This really shocked me, how we where speaking about this topic in such a blaze way. However, It was only when my male friends interjected with their disbelief and horror that we actually could experience it as much as we did, that prompted me to start the project. I realized that it wasn’t just the harassment itself that was the problem, it was the lack of awareness surrounding it.

Olivia. Cheer Up Luv.

At the beginning of the project, I reached out to all of my close friends asking if they had a story to tell, and was surprised with how many women came forward. But as the project grew and grew, women started contacting me from all over the world through my website and Instagram page, asking to share their stories. First I interview the women, then we visit the location, or a similar one, to where she was harassed, and I photograph her in public. Each shoot is completely different, there is no set formula to how it plays out. Every woman feels differently about being photographed in public, so some shoots might take 20 minutes, and others will take a whole afternoon! Afterwards I post the stories on my Instagram and website, and the women become part of the Cheer Up Luv community.

Catriona. Cheer Up Luv.

What do you expect from this project?

I never expected the project to grow as much as it has, and I couldn’t be happier. I want to continue growing the platform and reaching out to as many women around the world as possible. My next aims are to publish a book of all the women I have shot over the past year in London, New York and Tokyo, and hopefully have an exhibition to honor their contribution to the project.

When did you decide to start travelling to different cities in order to document women’s experiences with sexual harassment?

I started documenting women in other countries quite early on in the project. I wanted to go to New York, to see whether women experience the same levels of harassment that we do in London, and unsurprisingly the results were very similar. My 2017 actually ended with an exhibition at the ICP in New York, documenting and comparing the stories from both cities. Very recently I traveled to Japan to conduct some similar research on the matter, and found that women also experience a shocking level of harassment in public, but it is talked about significantly less than in the west. I met and spoke to so many lovely women whilst I was there, and had the pleasure of shooting them and retelling their stories.

Who or what inspires you?

There are many organisations and individuals that inspire me, such as Gurls Talk, Galdem, Gina Martin and Adwoa Aboah. I see these women doing such great things and being so productive, and it inspires me to keep doing more!

What has been your biggest challenge?

Having the confidence to believe in myself and keep doing what I’m doing.

How do you see yourself in 12 months?

Hopefully in the process of moving, or moved to New York!

Bonus track: Could you recommend any TV series/ comics/ movie/ song/ artist/ etc?

Dream Wife — Band

The Handmaids Tale — Series

Juno Calypso — Artist

Elevate is a publication by Lateral View.

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