About the Process

Bob got his first glimpse of the Irish Travellers in 2015 when he saw some black and white, square images on Facebook. The subject matter and photographs suggested that they were made in the 1940s or 1950s. Some investigation revealed that they had been made within the last ten years by an Irish Photographer named Joseph-Philippe Bevillard.

He was able to connect with Bevillard, who introduced him to the Travellers at the Ballinasloe Horse Fair in 2016. Since then, Bob has been captivated. Photographing their culture and lives became his first long-term project. In the last five years, he has returned to Ireland two to three times per year, visiting horse fairs and over thirty roadside camps and halting sites.

Photographing the Travellers at Horse Fairs is straightforward, as there are Pavees everywhere, most of whom are open to having their picture taken. Going to a halting site or roadside camp can be more challenging; the Travellers are concerned that anyone carrying a camera might be from a newspaper or magazine, with the intent of publishing images that would portray them in a negative light. Arriving at a camp with someone the Travellers know, who can provide an introduction, makes things easier. If one treats the Pavees with respect, they generally respond in kind and will often allow photography on their home site.

Each time Bob returns, he visits some of the same families he has come to know from repeat visits. Invariably, something has changed or is different. There may be a major event they are celebrating like a First Communion, or the anniversary of a death. Otherwise, a family may now live in a different site or have a new caravan. The practice of returning again and again has provided a rich opportunity for in-depth exploration of Traveller history and traditions.