Hailing from Derry, Northern Ireland, 22-year-old Megan Doherty creates the bright lights of faraway cities for herself and her friends in a photographic alternate reality. Through saturated colour palettes bouncing off the walls of dingy bars and wet motorways framed by neon lights, Doherty constructs another world.
“I’m definitely someone who belongs in a big city,” she explains. “I get caught up in the aesthetics alone, big city lights, urban underground spots, more than anything though, the access to a never-ending string of strangers who I’ve yet to meet, photograph and begin adventures with is what excites me most.”
Her ongoing photo series is a form of escapism for everyone involved. “The monotony of living in the same, small town all your life, surrounded by the same faces every day takes its toll,” she says. “When you allow yourself to get lost in film, music, art, anything really that takes you to that sweet spot in your mind, it’s disappointing to deal with the reality outside of that.
Therefore, making work allows me to bring this fictional world to life, to communicate the world I see in my head. Blurring reality and fantasy, essentially.”
It’s easy to get lost in the hazy underworld Doherty has created, and feel the youthful freedom and spontaneity of her subjects. Having initially set out to create a conscious project based on her own previous experiences, she found the photographs “usually become about something else”. She explains: “They become much more documented than staged, and we end up creating a whole new story as we go, living and capturing that particular moment as opposed to recreating something that has already gone by.”
Pushing boundaries, Doherty’s work is cinematic: the threads of stories that capture an Irish youth splayed throughout the series. Her ambition to explore film, then, is unsurprising. “As well as photography, I hope to work with film,” she says. “To take each narrative beyond a still photograph and bring it to life through a lo-fi, youth-dominated, cinematic neon haze of moving image.”