Cruel, upsetting and funny — that’s how Middlesex University photography graduate Jennifer Forward-Hayter describes her style.

She’s been spending the last year documenting journalists working to deadlines for her Masters degree, getting into places where she shouldn’t be and getting head-butted for her troubles.

But now she has opened her own solo photo exhibition in Australia at the TAP Gallery in Sydney, which comes to London in the New Year.

“Someone once told me my portfolio looked like a hit list, full of ugly people,” she said. “The theory of the grotesque is not as offensive as it seems — it just means the outside meeting the inside.”

She refuses to apply for a press card when working, in order “to keep on the outside”. It gets reactions.

“I’ve been headbutted twice while taking my pictures,” she reveals. “I’ve often gone into communities I never would be a part of.

“But ugly people have better stories — and people with better stories make better pictures.”

Her recent assignments have been with journalists in war zones, disasters and royal funerals, a mix of portraiture and documentary. She worked with subjects like the BBC’s war zone veteran Jeremy Bowen and The Guadian’s Carole Cadwalladr.

“Journalism is still an under-reported story,” Jennifer adds. “Most big journalists write an autobiography but never cover the overwhelming chaos of choosing between doing a podcast or going to a warzone to die, all for the same job.”

Documenting journalists has been the theme for Jennifer’s Masters photography work at the Middlesex Hendon campus for which she also contacted some Australian satirists.

She got access to budget meetings and computer screens, despite never telling people when she was turning up.

“I like capturing the journalists walking around the office,” she tells you. “Normally it’s a quick dash from desk to kitchen.

“It’s like shooting someone who finally takes a peak above a parapet when they became vulnerable.”

Jennifer, who received her degree from Middlesex Uni, wants to continue using photography as an excuse to be in places where she shouldn’t be, observing how people work on frontlines, in their private clubs and online.

Her solo Penknife exhibition comes to London in January.