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.


November 24, 2014

Today I went to Warrington. It’s a town near to where I live and I am relatively familiar with it having visited it’s Multiplex cinema, IKEA and town centre on a number of occasions. However, it still held mysteries for me and I found it to be a treasure trove for photography.

It is a mixture of the run down and the well to do. And it has some wonderful architecture and indeed some beautiful looking knackered old buildings too. If you are a fan of Rugby League then you will know the dominant Warrington Wolves and you may also remember it for the IRA bomb nigh on twenty years ago.

So I parked in a multi-story car park and headed straight into the town centre. Rain thwarted me for half an hour so I had my packed lunch early and rested in the shopping mall. But it was soon over.

I don’t actually believe in any of this but I sometimes think of the serendipity nature of doing street portraits as the photography gods. At one point I set up by a grey wall with some interesting features and waited for an interesting character to come along. I imagine myself as a lion in the Serengeti poised and constantly on the watch for my prey. In reality I am more like a mud splattered warthog but you have to dare to dream sometimes. Anyway, the rain came and I had to go for cover. What it meant was that when I returned I not only found a better position on the wall that had colour and pattern but also there were two young lads with skateboards who were perfect for the scene.

I photographed a lot of ‘ooths’. I asked three lads to pose as if they were in A Clockwork Orange, another group to arrange themselves as if in a pop promo and my final image was of about 7 or 8 young men who I asked to arrange themselves on some steps. It always amazes me that people have an instinctive knowledge of how to form themselves and in this case it reminded me of the Bullingdon Club photo with a young Cameron and BoJo.

I enjoyed my day in Warrington that’s for sure a fascinating place.