Our meeting last night was a great uplift to all of us. The speaker Peter Bartlett (ARPS, EFIAP/b, CPAGB, BPE3*) is a Mancunian who has lived all of his life in the North of England and is well placed to search out and investigate venues across that region and to pursue his passion as a street photographer. With his sharp eye and inquisitive style, he is ideally suited to interface with a range of people, capturing them in their natural environment, often in amusing settings.
Peter opened the evening with a group of standalone images. His backgrounds often tend to take on a geometric slant and a view above an escalator gave us just that with parallel lines, perpendicular stairs and two travellers passing to provide the diagonals. His technique is to use small, unobtrusive cameras, often shooting from the hip, in live mode, setting on burst to provide 3/5 images. He is constantly looking for an opportunity and always presses the shutter, knowing that moments are not repeated. We saw examples of individual faces and this has led to a book published – 26 FACIAL EXPRESSIONS. We enjoyed senior ladies gossiping in the street. youths strolling, one picking his nose, a couple together apart! Singles walking past racy advertising in the shop window. Three old chaps seated in a street bench who are ignoring one another, when the image is taken the middle one is beginning to stand up, 2 cyclists and a skateboarder, viewed from above in the bright Italian sunshine, giving exact composition, a hand emerging from behind a wall flicking the ash of a cigarette – in every image there is a story and this is where the observer can provide his own. Who will forget the guy, on a broad pavement, dragging along his “Henry” vacuum cleaner past 3 women, walking towards him – surreal?
Appreciating art – Peter is obviously artistic in his approach but has noticed the opportunities available in art galleries derived from the juxtaposition between the art work itself and the viewers in their many poses. Two people on opposite sides of a “thinker” type statue in deep contemplation, one man looking from the middle seat of a row of five, leaving four empty (perfect symmetry), A Mum and her little boy looking at a perfectly white framed image, the security lady looking authoritative outside the entrance to a Hepworth exhibition, Turner gallery with great ape statue staring into the room beside an old man consumed by a TV screen – no one else in the room. A photographer in awkward pose trying to photograph a Gormley figure, a Dad photographing, without a camera, while his young son’s body language screams out boring! So much to be seen in every image.
Manchester’s Northern Quarter – A specific area, known to our speaker, showing much variety. The backgrounds to most of this group of images draw a story with the subjects. 2 ladies outside the florists, overweight Mum pushing pram but with the ubiquitous bee images all around, Affleeks Palace, an emporium with three people standing outside by a carved inset quoting “On the VI day God created MANchester” brilliant. Two youths walking along smoking, single girl intensely concentrating on sending mobile phone text, pavement cafes with people engrossed in chatter, Mum with baby in buggy staring down the camera, dodgy book shop with passer by looking at the window contents – now demolished and replaced by glitzy wine bar. Young woman sitting on kerbside smoking and looking at phone, cigarette packet and match box beside her, couple deciding which way to go at crossroads, a traffic warden stepping off the pavement by a huge poster of David Bowie. Much to see and so many stories – Black and white the ideal medium.
Second half finds us in Italy where Peter decides to take images of tourists. A couple in St. Mark’s square hand in hand whole he waves around his GoPro, completely ignoring her. In the Dolomites couple back-to-back photographing the scene, Japanese tourist adopting aggressive stance to use mobile phone, a group of ladies taking a selfie using a stick, tourists in Pisa standing on small pillars to exaggerate the leaning tower, image included their photographer, image of two attractive girls and their cameraman, jostling in Venice to capture the Bridge of Sighs.
Shards of West Yorkshire – so named as each image is a small part which builds together to create the whole. This project is under constant review due to the lockdown restrictions but will probably finish up as 4 photobooks of 60 images. The author’s local knowledge shows up again here as we visit Dewsbury, Bradford, Batley, Halifax, Wakefield, Pudsey, Saltaire, Featherstone, Huddersfield, Bingley, Brighouse, Castleford, Calder Valley, Hebden Bridge. We see all aspects of life in these areas each with their own story in the past and once more through his choice of subjects, backgrounds, shop fronts with aging posters and owners – who knew women’s wrestling was next to be seen in May. Local people from a range of ethnic backgrounds “The best breakfast in Batley”, sweeping the streets from yesterday’s nub ends, Graffiti, so many rubbish bins, a stuffed tiger eyeing up the butcher’s shop window or was it the two ladies passing by? A Polish grocer, a well-timed shot of a winged image to give the passer by a heavenly touch.
Our evening came to an end with Peter’s book “A day at the races” only one horse actually featured in this array of well observed racegoers as the author had his back to the track. Views of excited punters, stylish suited regulars on the course, glamorous women on ladies’ days, despondent losers, drinkers, students of the turf with their noses buried in the Racing Post, the parade ring, a rainy race day, and finally a joyous couple about to engage in a kiss – The Sport of Kings in photographs.A highly entertaining evening and concisely described by our guest speaker – if these notes whet your appetite then visit – Peter Bartlett – Documentary Photography –https://www.peterbartlettimages.co.uk/