Documenting Britain

Strangers in Paradise

I am embarking on a series called Strangers In Paradise named after the song by Tony Bennett. I will photograph people in the streets of the Northwest of England and sometimes further afield. It is an exploration of people in Britain in the tenties as well as an investigation into the happiness tenet of smiling at and speaking with strangers.


February 5, 2015

I’m transitioning to becoming self employed which means the usual sixteen hour days. It’s all stuff I enjoy so it’s a privilege however it was good to get a break today and do my weekly jaunt into a nearby town.

When I was at school I had a friend called Moz, (later on at sixth form I had a friend, and still do, called Oz), and he set me up on a date with a girl called Tracey. The date was at the ice rink in Altrincham. I think I impressed her with my balletic crashes and dives. So Altrincham to me is where you went ice skating as a youngster. It was also a great place for spotty oiks like me to buy dungeons and dragons figures and computer games which is probably why I was such a hit with the ladies. However, I hit the town from another direction today and so the familiar parts came to me in reverse. Altrincham is a town where the local council has cottoned on to the cash cow that is parking. Usually, I drive to a nearby street and park for free but not in Altrincham. Although, having said that I eventually found a free space, it was literally like finding a needle in a haystack.

I went in early and like the early bird I caught some nice worms first thing. I took three consecutively at the back of the shops on the high street. I am beginning to use props and in one of the shots I manoeuvred a Sothian looking trolley into place and then got a lady to stand next to it.

From the beginning I have been asking the photography gods, (whom are non-existent but I still call them Bernard and Trish), for a golfer and someone in snow. They answered my prayers today, (I suspect it was Trish as Bernard is slightly cantankerous). I stumbled onto a golf course and photographed four female golfers as well as a couple of workmen whom were building some bunkers. Prior to that I came across three people, one called Sarah and a Polish and a South African hockey player whom were ridding the pitch of snow. Bingo, I thought, full house.

So it was another enjoyable day. I was enjoying myself so much that at one point Bob Dylan played on my MP3 player and I spontaneously howled like a wolf. Luckily it was an empty street.

Two quick notables. I stopped an actress whom is often photographed for DIY magazines and another woman whom was a model in the 60s and photographed by the likes of Terence Donovan and David Bailey. She said no but came back later and said “why not” and as Barry Norman used to say, yes and why not, I thought.