Issue 7853 November 2016
I found the ‘We Are The People’ section of this issue of the British Journal of Photography’ to be …to coin a phrase… relevant to my interests.
There are articles on the ‘slow photography’ of Peter Michel, who has been taking photographs of his local area in the north of England for the past 40 years, and Chris Dorley-Brown, who has been doing something similar in Hackney for the past 30 years.
These are of interest to me, with my own liking for architecture, history and nostalgia, as they demonstrate how honest, down to earth, no frills photography, taken in a specific locality, increase in interest and importance over an extended period of time.
Areas, and the buildings within them change, over time. Houses, shops, factories and the like are altered, extended, knocked down, built over, to the point that after many years, an area can become unrecognisable. This creates an interest in photographs of places that were taken years earlier. Partly this is through nostalgia among those who remember those places as they once were, and also through historical interest among those who are newer to the area.
What may, to some, appear as dull and uninteresting… ‘People were looking at me like “Well that’s bloody miserable!”‘ (Dorely-Brown 2016 cited in Smyth 2016:49) can, many years later, be seen as important pieces of work. Dorely Brown (2016) says of his current work ‘I don’t think they’re going to come into their own for maybe another 30 or 40 years.’ (Smyth 2016:49)
I suppose it saddens me somewhat that I am coming to this kind of photography at such a time in my own life that, by the time my own work might be of interest to others, I will probably be long gone.
I also found it noteworthy that these photographers had, over this extended period of time, largely not earned any significant money from these works, but had created them as side projects while doing other work.
This is something I need to keep in mind when considering my own career plans and ambitions.
Smyth, D. (2016) ‘East End Archive’ In British Journal of Photography 7853 p.49