IAN Beesley has recalled when he asked the next generation of Bradfordians to take a leap of faith as part of a project.

The Leap saw the Eccleshill-born photographer capture hundreds of primary school aged children leaping in the air as part of Born in Bradford, which is tracking the health and wellbeing of more than 13,500 city children from before birth to adulthood.

He says it was a fun project to work on, with most of the pictures taken at Drummond Middle School and Bowling Park Primary School.

The pictures were taken to encourage exercise among children and for people to live an active lifestyle.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

Ian McMillan also produced a poem for the project, which wanted to spotlight the energy and enthusiasm of Bradford children leaping into the air.

Beesley was inspired by a similar project by the American portrait photographer Philippe Halsman, who took a 1948 image of artist Salvador Dali, three cats and a bucket of thrown water in mid air.

Halsman later took jump pictures of other famous faces including Wallis Simpson and Marilyn Monroe.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

Beesley said: "I must have taken a few hundred pictures of kids for the leap project.

"It's just such a good laugh really.

"We invited kids to leap and I would take a photograph of them.

"Kids that age have less inhibitions. When you demonstrate it to them first (the leap), some of them think about it for about half-an-hour and then do this fantastic leap.

"Sometimes as have to curb their enthusiasm.

"Doing this leap project was a good way to get them to engage in a wider discussion about what they might be able to achieve academically.

"It's very popular. It's an opportunity to get them to think about other things.

"It's a leap of faith, maybe into higher education, seeing where it can take them.

"Halsman's pictures were really fun and I thought they would be a good thing to do. Kids just love it.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

"Halsman thought the famous people he took pictures on were putting up a front for the camera, so he got them to leap. When people are leaping, they are concentrating on the leap.

"The more effort they put into it, with arms and legs, the better.

"The Bradford Institute for Health Research have a few of the pictures installed there.

"The pictures I did were taken over a period of time. The most recent ones were taken a couple of years ago."

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

As part of the Born in Bradford project, Mr Beesley also helps run a series of free photographic portrait studios for participants, which also includes its twins.

Bradford was chosen as it is the sixth largest city in the UK, with a multi-ethnic population of more than 500,000 people. However the district suffers from high levels of deprivation as well as having some of the highest rates of childhood illness in the UK.

The high profile project has seen 12,500 pregnant women recruited to the study between March 2007 and December 2010.

Participants might fill in questionnaires like this or researchers will carry out assessments on learning ability, working memory capacity, and mental and physical wellbeing of children in years three, four and five.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

Who is Ian Beesley?

He was born in Bradford in 1954 and after leaving school in 1972 worked in a mill, a foundry before going to work at Esholt Sewage works, where he was part of the railway gang.

Encouraged by his workmates to go to college and find a career, he took up photography and eventually was accepted to study at Bradford Art College, after which he went to Bournemouth & Poole College of Art.

On graduating he was awarded a Kodak Scholarship for Social Documentation and started to document the demise of industry particularly in Bradford and West Yorkshire.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

His work is held in the collections of Bradford City Art galleries and museums, the National Media Museum, the Imperial War Museum, the Royal Photographic Society, the V & A London, the National Coal Mining Museum for England and The Smithsonian Museum Washington USA. He has published 40 books.

In 2012 he was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society and in 2019 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Bradford for his outstanding contribution to the art and culture and the social and economic development of the city of Bradford.

He is currently artist in residence for the Bradford Institute for Health Research, Gallery Oldham and Yorkshire Water.