All posts filed under: Portraits

coffee-shop-birmingham

Those quiet moments in coffee shops…

Coffee shops, or coffee houses as they were first known, spread to England from the middle east in the 1600’s. Hundreds of them sprung up in several cities across the country. They quickly became popular as a place to conduct business and to socialise as an alternative to the ubiquitous alehouses and taverns which proliferated at the time. Nobody back then drank water as most was not potable. Alehouses served weak beer in which the alcohol had killed the bacteria in the water from which it was made. Likewise, coffee houses used only boiling water to make their beverages. The action of boiling water for tea or coffee killed off the many bugs in the water. It was possible during that period to gain access to a coffee house by payment of one penny. You could stay as long as you liked and there was no need to even buy coffee. They were places of commerce where some businessmen would conduct their business. I say “business-man” as women weren’t allowed in coffee houses unless they owned …

Navvie Birmingham

Four connected portraits.

I have chosen 4 of my pictures, all of which are over 40 years old, in order to show ‘related’ images. Odd you may think, but this choice reflects my desire to return to what I saw then. Not what I actually saw, you understand, but more my ability to see something else. Yes, they are out of focus. Yes, they are grainy. Yes, they may have been treated with a heavy hand when scanning and printing. All of these are faults by modern day standards. And yet, for me,  these images manage to contain some of what todays ultra-sharp, perfectly exposed and wonderfully printed images lack, That ‘Je ne sais quoi’ that I’m struggling to regain. Perhaps it’s the magic of time passing which has provided that curious, mysterious essence. Or maybe it’s just that these characters aren’t around anymore; disappeared from our more homogenised society. Who knows. It goes without saying they were shot on film. All Black and White. One, the Navvie, was shot on 6×6 the others on 35mm. And all …