How It Began

When Covid-19 started, I had just made plans to follow the Bristol Roller Derby team around the UK to shoot their games. I suddenly had no focus for my photography and I wanted to make sure that I had a project to work on. I also wanted to do something with the LGBTQ+ community. In Bristol and had been photographing a friend during their transition. I thought, maybe as lockdown lifts people will want to get out and have their portraits taken. And that is how the idea for the project came about.


Ash was the first person that I started taking portraits of. He started transitioning and I offered to document it for him. This photo was taken using Ortho Plus 80 with my Pentax 645.

Who Are You?

LGBTQ+ Faces of Bristol is, at it's core, a photographic representation project. I wanted to try and photograph the faces of queer people who live in Bristol to empower the community. The people I photograph are not models, they are regular people in the community who are sometimes not very well represented in the media. The hope with the project was to try and improve representation.

Local Queer Groups

I first approached people via facebook, there are lots of local queer groups on there so I posted a few messages in there telling people what I was going to do and if anyone was interested in having their photo taken for free. The portraits have always been for free so that I didn't have to exclude anyone due to monetary boundaries. At the end people get a digital version of their photo and if they want it printed I can take it to a local printer, there are a few local labs that have given me discounts for developing and printing which has been lovely - silverpan lab is one of them.

Black and white portrait of a couple

Aisha & Lauren. Minolta Dynax 7 - HP5+


Black and white portrait of a ouple of woman who are pregnant

Aisha & Lauren. Minolta Dynax 7 - HP5+ They really wanted to get a photoshoot in before their baby was born so I did a cute little shoot in between some lockdown restrictions.

How It Started

The project started with just me (Karen Freer), and as it got more popular I needed to get help from other people in the community.


  • Allysse (she/they) - Photographer who has helped take portraits of LGBTQ+ people.


  • Jen (she/they) - Helped a lot with social media posting back when the project was super full on.


  • Emma (she/her) - Designed our logo



  • Joe (he/him) - British Sign Language Interpreter

How do people get in touch with you and, is there any criteria they have to meet?

If people would like to get involved there are lots of things I need. Everything has got a bit too much for me to organise, so I have taken  bit of a step back. I am also fully booked for the rest of the year. I am taking photos of LGBTQ+ NHS staff members for an exhibition in February 2023. However, Allysse is available to take photos so the best way to get in contact if you are Bristol based. If you would like your portrait included, you can email From that point, I can put them in touch with Allysse to find out best times for photoshoots. If you are a photographer that wants to get involved, that would also be fantastic. I have had a few people ask about doing this in other cities. Whether a queer photographer based in Bristol or elsewhere, it would be great to have someone else to help the project grow across the UK.


Black and white photo of a persn sat down with the lens looking upwards

This photo was taken by Allysse Riordan - allysseriordan
Allysse started as an assistant for me on shoots but then as I got busier and burnt out from doing all the shoots myself, I asked if she wanted to do some by herself and she said yes. Which is AMAZING. I really love her photography and she shoots mostly B&W so I think our photos work well together.

24 Portraits

24 portraits have been taken since July 2020. It doesn't feel like much but because this is something that we do in our spare time and with our own money. It is always going to be a very slow process to build up the portfolio. Hopefully Allysse is going to be contributing about 3 more this year. She is going to work with Joe, a BSL translator. I worked with him previously when I shot two deaf people and it was soooo good. I was so happy that he volunteered to help because there is just no way I would be able to include deaf people in this project if it wasn't for him.

Black and white portrait

This is another of Ash, this was taken in my old flat against a white wall, I have some really basic lighting to try and create a studio set up. Pentax 645 - HP5+

Continue The Project

I have about 7 more people that I am taking photos of this year. They are all NHS workers based in Bristol which is fun and that is going into an exhibition for February 2023. After that, I plan to continue to work on the project but it will probably just be a bit slower with maybe only a few portraits a year. Also if I leave Bristol I will try and replicate the project elsewhere.