by Paul Gallagher Published 01/06/2012
1. How long have you lived in Preston and when
did you begin to photograph the city? I have lived in Preston since 2004 after returning from a year travelling around Australia and New Zealand. The location was based on having an improved chance of gaining employment, as I previously resided in the Lake District. I have lived in several areas of Preston and as such I have developed an interest in the city, which incidentally acquired the status of the UK's newest city back in 2002 and has several Grade 1 and Grade II* listed buildings which presents many photographic opportunities. I started shooting in the city back in 2007 when I joined my local photography society. Next year Preston celebrates the Guild, an event that only happens every 20 years and the whole city really comes alive through lots of council-organised events and our photography society has just been nominated as the official photographers for all of the events, which is a fantastic achievement. It is particularly good to be in a position to give something back to the community, after all, we have existed since 1905.
2. What is it about city photography that draws
you? Originally and, as is the case for a lot of photographers I suppose,
landscape is where I started, mainly because it combined two of my passions, the great outdoors and photography. Indeed a lot of my work has been captured in and around the mountains and valleys of the Lake District, the open fields of Yorkshire and the great expanse and beaches of Scotland.
However, over the past couple of years I have found myself moving more into architecture and cityscapes. On reflection there are several reasons for this. Firstly I live in a city and therefore have a wealth of subjects available on my doorstep. Secondly it appears that I have developed a curiosity for people and although they do not always appear in my cityscape work, they can and often do play a huge role in featuring in city life, in the same way that animals do in the open countryside.
I also find that cities demand a different skill-set if you are after capturing a high standard of image. There are many more obstacles to overcome when shooting in a city compared to the countryside. Issues I've found range from over-zealous law enforcement officers and security guards, to members of the general public who assume that you have no right to include them in any image that you capture and the subsequent conversations that follow as a result, sometimes brief, sometimes protracted*.
The challenges of ever-changing light can seriously affect how a scene looks; traffic problems which can demand never-ending supplies of patience in waiting for the situation to clear before resuming shooting. I also find that my attitude and body language changes in order to shoot within the confines of small spaces with potentially large numbers of people than perhaps standing next to a lake alone at 4am. I tend to adopt a more serious, confident persona when shooting cities if only to hopefully deflect unwanted attention. My stress levels certainly increase whenever I shoot cityscapes for I always have to be prepared for the unexpected.
*Take care on this issue! see also http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:Photographs_of_identifiable_people
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