About Abbie Trayler-Smith
Abbie Trayler-Smith is a documentary and portrait photographer. She grew up in South Wales before moving to London where she studied law at Kings College. Trayler-Smith began working regularly as a photographer for the Daily Telegraph in 1998; here she spent eight years covering news and features worldwide, including the war in Iraq, the Darfur crisis and the Asian tsunami. In 2007, she joined Panos Pictures.
Her work has been widely published and exhibited internationally as well as receiving many awards. Her first major work, "Still Human Still Here," was exhibited at HOST Gallery in London in 2009, along with an award-winning accompanying multimedia short film. In 2013 she became a member of A Fine Beginning, the Welsh photography collective. Based in the UK, she is currently working on a long-term personal project called "The Big O" on childhood obesity. It was from this work that her portrait of Chelsea won 4th prize in The National Portrait Gallery’s Taylor Wessing Prize, London.
Why a project on urban beehives?
I saw some graffiti in East London of a giant bee on the side of a building. Alongside it was written “When we go we’re taking you all with us” and it got me thinking. (The artwork was by Louis Michel (aka Masai) for a campaign with called #savethebees and other artwork by Masai is featured in my story). Later that day I happened to see a picture on Instagram of some beehives and suddenly I couldn’t stop thinking about bees and decided to investigate further, hence my story. Photography is my excuse to be nosy, a way of exploring and understanding life.
What do you hope to get out of the project?
I have already gotten so much out of the project. I’ve discovered a whole new (to me) bee hang out on London’s rooftops – an urban apiary. And watching the bees is mesmerising; they are quite beautiful and clever creatures!
Why do you think urban beekeeping has become so popular over the last years?
Because it’s engaging and hypnotic. It gives you an intimate connection with nature that we can often miss out on in urban areas, and you get to eat your very own homemade honey. London honey is extremely popular; it’s very difficult to get hold of a jar!
What’s your personal relationship to bees?
I didn’t start out with one but it’s getting more personal by the shoot!