Franki Raffles (1955-94) was a feminist social documentary photographer.
She was based in Edinburgh but travelled widely, photographing women at work and in their everyday lives, in Scotland, and across the world.
Her tragic early death, at the age of just 39, came at a time when she was establishing a reputation as a campaigning feminist photographer with her innovative work on the first Zero Tolerance campaign, funded by Edinburgh District Council’s Women’s Committee. Her powerful constructed images raised awareness of the issue of men’s violence against women and children with a totally new approach. Short text statements which presented evidence of the stark facts about the reality, and prevalence, of male violence, were juxtaposed with black and white photographs of girls and women of all ages in familiar, ordinary domestic settings. The campaign was public photography on a large-scale. It was the first time that mass media, social marketing techniques had been applied in a feminist campaign.
After her death for over two decades her work as a photographer remained largely forgotten. In 2013, with full support from The Raffles’ Estate, Alistair Scott, of Edinburgh Napier University, who had known Franki since their undergraduate student days, began this research project to investigate and re-evaluate her creative practice. Scott has brought together the entire output of her work – photographic prints, catalogues, negatives, contact sheets, notebooks and other materials. In December 2014, with the assistance of Marc Boulay, Photographic Archivist, these materials were deposited in the Special Collections of St Andrews University Library where there are resources for conservation and storage, and the process of digitising and cataloguing over 90,000 images began. The aim is to trace the development of her career, investigate the key themes of her work, and assess her contribution as a social documentary and feminist photographer. At present her work still remains marginalised and hidden, and several of her international projects have never been exhibited. Now through the archive her photographs can be made available to scholars and the general public. We hope to organise a retrospective exhibition which will bring her photographs to the attention of a wider public. This website is a starting point.
Thanks to Rowan Lear, Ria Krause, Stuart Armit, and Jordan Anderson, former Edinburgh Napier Photography students, who contributed to the development of this site. And to Marine Benoit-Blain, the first post-graduate student to undertake research on this archive material and who completed a thesis entitled – Photographie féministe en Écosse, 1980-1990, « Femmes au travail », autour de la production de Franki Raffles, at the École du Louvre, September 2015.
Scott, A. J. (2016). Franki Raffles Archive