A LOCAL photographer is marking turning the big 4-0 by documenting as many other 40-year-olds as she can for a new exhibition.

Shy Burhan decided to start her ‘forty’ project after reaching the four decade mark earlier this year. The photographer, whose previous work has seen her document Bradford city centre and the rising number of pay-as-you-feel canteens, is now busy interviewing and snapping other people who have recently turned 40 for her biggest project yet.

When the project is complete she plans on touring the photos in an exhibition and releasing them in an art book. And the plan is to start big – with the photographs spray-printed onto the wall of a large industrial unit in Estonia.

She is currently in the process of applying for Arts Council funding for the project.

She told the Telegraph & Argus she was inspired by US photographer Imogen Cunningham, who had photographer people in their 90s.

She said: “I liked the idea of linking all these people by their age. When I turned 40 I realised no-one had ever documented people in their 40s.

“In 2018 being 40 is very different than being 40 80 years ago. People are living longer, are different shapes, have different outlooks on life, and have different neuroses.

“Now 40 isn’t considered to be that old.”


Before she photographs the volunteers, she interviews the subjects, asking them questions like what their biggest regrets are, what advice they would give to their younger self and even who their favourite Kardashian is.

She is hoping to get as wide a variety of subjects for the photos as possible, including people from the numerous different races that make up the UK today.

She has recorded the interviews, and a short film with some of the responses will accompany the exhibition.

Miss Burhan said: “It is interesting talking to them about the choices they have made. Some people feel like they have lost a sense of their own life. Others can’t believe they are 40. Some have savings, many don’t. Some people reach 40 and feel ‘is this it?’

“I really want to celebrate diversity with this project.

“It will be great when we have the finished product. A group I have found are able to use technology to spraypaint images on these huge walls. They are going to be on this big industrial wall in Estonia. If you are going to do it, you might was well do it big.”

She is currently looking for more people to photograph in the project. To be eligible people have to be born between September 1, 1977, and December 31, 1978. Those involved will get a 10x8 mounted and signed copy of their portrait.

To take part in the project, email info@shybphotography.co.uk or visit shybphotography.com