I’m a great believer in serendipity. I was visiting a friend to deliver a print that she’d bought from me. At the time I was taking a lot of photos of graveyards, and she offered to show me a derelict cemetery which had been left hanging in the undergrowth on the banks of a major new road development. As we walked back through the village, I stopped an old man to ask if I could shoot his portrait, and when he very abruptly declined she said, you should meet Faye……

Fourteen months later and I’ve made a body of work that is nearing the stage where I can begin to start editing it for my next book, which will be published by Fistful of Books. ILFORD have been kind enough to part sponsor the project.


Faye is transgender, and she lives in a house that her late mother lived in since 1974, until her death a few years ago. A lot of Faye’s childhood was spent there too. Much of it unhappy, much of it trapped, both by family circumstance, and by the body she was born with. A misfit in a tough working class area of South Wales.

She is a world away from the often glamorous and even glamorised images of transgender people that the media presents, as if the issue is the latest trend. This is reality. It’s often gritty, and it’s certainly not a lifestyle choice taken lightly.

A portrayal of transition

The book will be a portrayal of transition, both Faye and the house, which to most people would be uninhabitable. The first time I met Faye she was sat in the kitchen on a cold Winter’s day. The metal stove which she made herself and cooks on, pumping out heat. She does everything herself in the house, as and when she can. From roofing to building cupboards, planking the wood herself. She even restores motorbikes which currently live in her front room.

This is one remarkable woman’s journey, and I’m privileged to be allowed to document part of it.

Images shot on ILFORD HP5 PLUS © David Collyer