CITY OF SHADOW AND LIGHT
I think it all started with a series of images I shot of Birmingham city centre on Boxing Day in 2017. Up until that point, colour had always played a major part in my photography in Brum, with my use of black and white being very rare. However, on that cold crisp day at the end of the year, when the winter sun hung low in the blue sky, I began to take interest in the interplay of strong shadows and highlights and how the removal of colour allowed the eye to focus on the compositions they created. I discovered that allowing this contrast to dominate enabled the creation of new images that were like nothing I had ever shot before.
As someone who had practised amateur photography in Birmingham for 5 years, I had a reached a point where I felt like the city was becoming saturated from a photographic point of view. There have been some truly great images of the city captured over recent years by some top photographers, however, trying to come up with something new was proving to be a challenge I felt. I was looking for a new approach to capturing images of our city, and at the same time developing an identifiable style amongst the city’s excellent photography community. With this in mind, the timing of my new found interest in high contrast black and white imagery seemed to be the change in direction I was looking for.
At the outset of 2018, I knew I wanted to explore the use of strong highlights and shadows to create interesting compositions in our city. I knew that the types of images I wanted to shoot would fall into the wide category of street photography. However, I also knew that I had a lot to learn in this respect, as creating dramatic images with a good use of light, shadow, and tonality was not all that easy. I hadn’t planned for it to become the sole output of my work this year, but as time went by I struggled not to look for scenes that would work well in black and white. I began to love capturing our city, it’s people, and streets in a completely new way for me.
Fast forward to the midpoint of 2018, and black and white photography has dominated my work so far this year. Besides some commissions where I shot in colour, all of my own personal projects and work have been shot in my continually developing, high contrast black and white style. I’ve found that placing this restriction on my photography has only served to stimulate my creativity. Having such a singular focus for my work has allowed me to create images of Birmingham that I would never have done before. I fully intend to maintain this approach throughout 2018, maybe even beyond, as I still have a lot to explore with this new found style.