‘School’s Out’: Nessie Appleton-Smith on Documenting LGBTQA+ Students

What motivates you to create images or take photos?

People and their stories motivate me to take images. I have been taking photos since before I can remember, storing them away in photos books to look back at them and recall the memories and times captured by them. I find people so interesting, they are always the focus of my images. Especially with such a personal project like ‘School’s Out’ this was a love letter to a period of time in my life and the people who I shared this time with. 

An image taken for the ‘School’s Out’ Project

What was the reason you started the ‘School’s Out’ project?

School’s Out started as a short film idea as I wanted to tell the story of my experience with my queer friends whilst setting up an LGBTQ+ society in school. We knew we were a part of something special and I wanted others to feel a part of it. I decided to take images as the society is still going and it’s amazing that the legacy of our society is still standing within the school. 

Did you find that the people you spoke to for this project had school experiences which resonated with your own? How?

Absolutely, for both good and bad reasons. This group of friends reminded me of my queer friendship group in school, the support and understanding they have of one another is beautiful. We laughed about the awful homophobic teachers and shared stories about queer visibility at our school. 

An image taken for the ‘School’s Out’ Project

You’ve previously spoken about how the people around you at school shaped you into who you are today. Do you believe those people have shaped your focus as a creative in works other than School’s Out? How?

Very much so. My queer friends are my most creative friends so whilst having that bond we also have shared our creative journeys together. 

What do you hope for those growing up and starting their journeys of self-discovery now?

I am so happy that younger queer people grow up with better representation and more information out there which I hope will help them on their journey. There is much more room for people to explore and discover rather than label themselves.

Find more about ‘School’s Out’ via Nessie’s Instagram.

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