Monday, May 20, 2013

The Story So Far

I've expanded the slideshow of sample pictures to 22 photos, out of the 50-odd possible candidates I now have for the project.

This gives a feel of the project so far.

The primitive slideshow can be seen here:

Friday, May 17, 2013

Brighton Visit number 15

Seven Dials and around
On Monday this week (i.e. 13 May) I visited Brighton for my photography project. I’m trying not to get into a routine, but sometimes when I get off the train – in this case at 9.20 am – I head straight up steep Guilford Road from the train station up to the Seven Dials area and around.

Seven Dials itself is the point where (you guessed it) seven roads meet but unlike its London namesake there is no monument in the centre, just a plain roundabout. At the moment, there are a load of roadworks going on to improve safety, as it’s a bit of an accident blackspot – 44 people injured in the last 5 years.

On the plus side, it’s a pleasant residential district with some nice cafes, local shops and restaurants, and an overly photogenic shop selling mainly mannequins. I used to work at a delicatessen in Seven Dials called Appetites – probably the only job I’ve had I didn’t hate – but the deli is long gone, and there’s no blue plaque to mark my employment. I’ve taken a few promising shots of roadworks and street furniture here on previous visits.

Heading downhill and ducking under part of the railway viaduct, I moved on to the Preston Circus and London Road area, where for the first time I came across a piece of characteristic Brighton oddness.

[record shot: shop window for EatonNott roadkill couture]

The EatonNott shop offers a “highly acclaimed range of bespoke couture garments … created out of the pelts, feathers and bones of animals that have been killed and eaten as food, have been accidentally killed on our roads, that have died of natural causes or been culled as pests.”

Presumably the baby on the left wasn’t roadkill, but something else. Anyway, I certainly will be coming here for all my couture roadkill needs, which are quite extensive. I don’t think I’ll be using the photo though – it’s just a quick record shot of something unusual, someone else’s artworks. Almost like taking a snap of the Mona Lisa.

As I headed along London Road on the way to the town centre I noticed an interesting café-type place, and had a quick sit down and a coffee.

[record shot: The Emporium – café by day, theatre by night (out back, not shown).]

The Emporium’s canteen is situated in an old Methodist chapel and had only been open a few days – there was still some plumbing going on. Out back (and the real reason for its existence) is a 230-seat theatre. Everyone seemed very friendly.

Enough Brighton loafing, and into more “central” Brighton.

Sussex ice rink
I was interested in tracking down the old ice rink that I had read about on a community notice-board on a previous visit. It’s situated right in the centre of town but I wasn’t previously aware of its existence. The former rink is located at the end of Queen Square, which is actually a short rising cul-de-sac close to Brighton clocktower. The small rink has been closed since 2003, and the now-defunct sign shown used to read “Sussex Ice Rink”. The latest plan, I believe, is to turn the area into a luxury hotel.

[Sussex Ice Rink. © Paul Russell 2013. Click for larger version]

The tree behind the building is in the grounds of St Nicholas' Church. There was not a lot else that caught my eye in Queen Square apart from a taxi rank and, for one day only, a collection of police vans waiting for that night’s crucial Brighton vs Crystal Palace game.

Later, while hotel spotting I came across this view, and was pleased to squeeze in the angel Peace Statue bottom right.

[© Paul Russell 2013. Click for larger version]

By the end of the day’s wander, I had around six shots that I would consider candidates for the project – not all standalone winners but all shots that might fit well in the final edit of around 60 pictures. A good day, and then past 4 million football fans at the train station, and back on the 6.28 train to Weymouth.

[thumbnails screen grab]

A small sample of photos from the first 2 months of this project can be seen here:

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Closer to God?

Another church-related photo - one of my photos from the Brighton project is the current In-Public photo of the month. Click on the photo for a larger version.

[Brighton photo © Paul Russell 2013]

In-Public is a collective set up in 2000 to promote street photography, and now numbers 22 photographers from around the world.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Outline of the Brighton Photography Project

I’ve started this blog to document the photographic project on Brighton, UK that I started in March this year.

I intend to draw and build upon my knowledge and experience of the town to carve out a distinctive section of photographic space and time.

At the end of the project, around October this year, I aim to have a coherent set of photos in the street photography tradition that evokes a very definite sense of place. I have deep links to the town – I lived in Brighton for several years in the 1990s, and grew up nearby – so I have many experiences and roots draw on.

About Brighton
Brighton is a vibrant seaside town on the south coast of England, with lively student, counter-counter, "alternative" and lesbian & gay scenes. It has two universities, two piers, a bizarre Pavilion, and a football team on the verge of promotion to the Premiership. Along with its more genteel neighbour, Hove, it makes up the city of Brighton & Hove.

Brighton is a popular day-trip and weekend destination for Londoners, being less than an hour from the capital by train. In the summer it is heaving with day-trippers, stag parties and holidaymakers. Often referred to as London by Sea, it has also been described as Skid Row on Sea and A Town Permanently Helping Police With Their Enquiries. To me, it is one of the most interesting and characterful places in England.

What to photograph?
Or what not to photograph? From a photographic point of view, I’m not so interested in the tourist-eye view of Brighton – the seaside piers, amusements and traditional entertainments are all well documented photographically, on TV and in films. In contrast, I am looking for the resident-eye view – the experiences that make Brighton distinct from other seaside towns and from other non-seaside towns.

Looking at photographs from the town on the Internet – the biggest Brighton Flickr group, for example – the many keen photographers resident in Brighton seem to photograph mainly the seasidey, touristic aspects themselves, such as the main Brighton Pier and the same obvious, spectacular, shiny bauble things that tourists photograph. When it comes to photography, many locals seem to act like day-trippers in their own town, ignoring everyday scenes and experiences. This is another incentive for me to step outside of the photographic clichés of Brighton.

I’m interested in making a collection of peopled and non-peopled photos that give a sense of place, rather than a bunch of good photos that happen to have been taken in Brighton. Photographs that together say something about Brighton as I know it, hopefully in a subtle way. I think that Brighton is compact enough to distil something of its essence into a single set of photographs, whereas pinning down, say, London is more problematic.

[Brighton photo © Paul Russell 2013]

I’m making a road trip round the town, on foot, if you like, and my wanderings include the areas I think of as the central shopping areas, Kemp Town, Western Road, London Road, Clifton (Montpelier et al.), Hanover, Seven Dials, the beach, and the Marina. I’m recording the GPS data of all my journeys and delving into aspects of history via the two Encyclopaedias of Brighton (by Carder and Collis) to immerse myself more deeply in the psychogeography of the place.

A sample of photos from the first 2 months can be seen here:

Practicalities/modus operandi
Brighton is a 3.5-hour train journey – connections permitting – from my home in Weymouth, and so is just commutable in a long day-trip. I’ve made a dozen visits so far with the express purpose of photographing Brighton, usually arriving in the town at around 10.30 am and leaving at 6.30 pm. In all, I plan to make about 40 trips, finishing around October this year.

I’m using the digital compact Fujifilm X10 for this project for the simple reason that on the first few visits in March it was the only camera available to me, as my SLR was out of action. The X10 has its limitations and specialities, but limitations can be interesting to work with. Sticking with one camera makes its easier to obtain a consistent look.

[Brighton photo © Paul Russell 2013]

About me
Paul Russell is a full-time photographer working on themed projects. For details of exhibitions and publications please visit