top of page

Courtesy of 

Sofia Conti

Ann Lesley BarTur Award

Sofia Conti

Falmouth University (Falmouth Flexible)
United Kingdom


Sofia Conti is a Glasgow based award winning Social Documentary photographer. In September 2022 Sofia achieved an MA Photography degree with Distinction after five years of studying as a mature student.

Collaboration for Sofia is an extremely important part of the work produced, especially when exploring social inequalities within various communities, including her own. Her collaborative process is about depicting the people and their connections to their environment. Sofia intends to ethically represent communities with a distorted view imposed upon them. By empowering each collaborator to tell their story, the hope is to enlighten the audience on the issues raised to change preconceived notions.

Pain is Necessary Suffering is Optional

Various locations within Greater Glasgow, Scotland, UK


‘Pain is Necessary Suffering is Optional’ is a collaborative multimedia-based project between me (the photographer) and the people in recovery from substance abuse. The work explores the life experiences of four individuals, from different genders, age groups and backgrounds, who have all suffered at the hands of addiction. For many years there has been a stigma attached to the West of Scotland in relation to, ‘The Glasgow Effect’, which indicated addiction as one of the main factors contributing to the low life expectancy of the Glaswegian population.

National Records Scotland published two reports in 2021 relating to the drug and alcohol mortality rate. Greater Glasgow and Clyde had the highest geographical drug deaths in Scotland between 2016-2020 with 30.8 per 100,000 population. The investigation found that the main drugs of choice were opiates/opioids, benzodiazepines, gabapentin/pregabalin and cocaine. When it came to alcohol, the deaths were 26.0 per 100,000 population in the exact same region. Within ‘Social Class in the 21st Century’ it examines the inequality that is still present in Britain, “there is a further argument to be made about the growing intensity of stigmatisation directed at the most disadvantaged”. It poses the question if people in addiction are immediately judged for their circumstances, how can they ever feel secure enough to ask for help?

bottom of page