I left my home city almost 6 years ago. After spending 23 years in the heart of Leeds, I decided it was time to make a change, opting to move to there the London. It was in London where my passion for street photography really came to fruition. I know the streets of the capital just as good, if not better, as the place I once called home. And whilst London had become such an influential and meaningful part of my life, it could never give me that same emotional feeling as the place where I was born does.
Having spent 3 months in Central America, on returning to the UK I went to visit family back in Leeds. During my time there it soon dawned on me - I have never actively shot street in Leeds. A city filled with nostalgia and local connectivity (everyone speaks like me!) it was a shame that I had not got any frames of the people that live within it.
Determined to right this personal wrong, I gave myself 60 minutes to get out with my camera and shoot the local people of the place that I will always call home.
There's no place like home
What was interesting about this was that every image I took had a meaning that went much beyond the image itself. For example when I take an image of the local market, I did not just see or feel what is within the frame. The image takes me back to my youth, where I would go get a quarter of midget gems on a weekend. It reminds me of speaking with the local butcher when I first moved out of my childhood home, as he would tell me which was the best value packs of meat for a clueless youngster like me. So many tales could be re accounted just from a small image that consisted of people and the bricks around them.
I found the process of the whole 60 minutes extremely therapeutic. In a sense I was an adult street photographer who was connecting with his inner child. It encouraged me to see the positive in the city which carried so many memories - good and bad. It was also extremely rewarding to go back to Leeds with a level of skill that I did not have when I lived there, and to be able to use it to create something that was meaningful to me. I felt a sense of pride that I was able to share this skill with people who were all part of a bigger jigsaw that was the location of the story of my young life.
It may be a subject to cover in a more drawn out personal project. But doing this “bitesize project” was an extremely fun thing to do. 60 minutes, 5 images, mainly consisting of street portraits.
In their experience, their location and their stance - in each of these portraits I felt there was also a piece of me.
The reason I chose street portraits was because it was a good way to take a photograph of me. These people had lived in the streets I had, shared the pleasure and the pain of the city, collected the local dialect and grown in the same communities. All of this life experience will contribute to our similarities. In their experience, their location and their stance - in each of these portraits I felt there was also a piece of me.
If you are someone who has left the place you were born, I strongly recommend revisiting it and documenting your memories as you do. If only for the comfort of seeing what you know, it is very much worth it. It is also a wonderfully exclusive moment where you can take images just for you and only you.
I have put up 10 copies of this limited edition print for sale on my website. This image “Beach Life” was featured in the travel section of The Guardian and has been popular across all of social media. Having already sold some copies the rest are likely to go quickly. If you would like a signed and numbered copy of “Beach Life” please follow the below link. (Please contact me directly if you live outside the UK so we can discuss postage and delivery times)
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