A clickiness of photographers

Photographers photographed

There’s something rather wonderful about spending an afternoon with a bunch of photographers intent on doing creative stuff. With my Exposure Leeds hat on at a jaunty angle, I set off to lead a street photography workshop in Bradford city centre.

This was this third workshop I’ve run with the lovely people at Impressions Gallery. They were so popular, all the places were filled as soon as the workshops were announced, which was encouraging.

There are some magnificent street photographers, capturing people, shapes, patterns, light, shadow, movement and anything else on the street. We set out to take photographs of pretty much anything that moved – and plenty of things that didn’t.

The results are here . I have to confess to being rather chuffed with the photos they took.

A little bit of imagination goes a long way

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One of the great things about kids is their uninhibited imaginations, there’s a whole world of make-believe is inside their little heads, bursting with energy and ideas. Before you know it, they have a story, a play, a song or a picture and the dozen or so youngsters who burst into Impressions Gallery looked like they could do the whole lot!

With my Exposure Leeds hat on, I was leading a Family Photo Workshop, the idea was to encourage kids to enjoy photography and use their imagination. They didn’t disappoint. No sooner had they arrived with their parents than the props box was broken out, wigs, gowns, silly glasses, the lot. One little boy who wasn’t even part of the workshop picked out a rather fetching Geisha wig and a sparkly handbag and helped me  welcome everyone, adding a comment or two of his own.Which was nice.

Grown-ups were dressed up, their children art directed the photography. Who’d have thought so many hats could be fitted on one head? Oh the power of telling your dad to pick his nose or act like a pirate arrrrrr, all in the name of exploring new ways to express yourself with your camera.

While Si did the indoor stuff, I took a group around City Park making them stop every 20 steps, look around, think, tap into their active imaginations and then take a photo. I’d already encouraged them to think of themes, maybe a colour, or a shape, types of buildings, reflections or shadows. One youngster carried a spotty bow tie around, photographing it in all sorts of places. Another worked with a blue feather, another captured architecture and buildings. They stood on things, lay flat on their bellies on the pavement, splashed through water to get the shot they wanted, excitedly showing their photos on the camera screens. It was glorious.

Thanks to Si for helping with the ‘shoot the grown-ups’ session.I don’t know who were the bigger kids, though, Si, me and the Impressions staff or youngsters. A tough call, I’d say…

Outbreak of spontaneous hugging

One minute I was in the camping chair, mini union jack in one hand, the next I was hugging a total stranger. It couldn’t be helped, Team GB had just won their second silver medal at the London Olympics and all of us around the big screen in Bradford city centre were very pleased indeed.

It was a bit parky for late July, but a few folk were milling around City Park where sponsors had set out rows of camping chairs and giant bean bags, that’s giant bags of beans rather than bags of giant beans. Cadbury’s were handing out chocolate medals for feats of athletic ability. I got one for throwing a ball through a hoop not once, but twice, it was emotional.

But that was just a prelude to the real excitement, we were all willing Team GB to beat the Kiwis to silver in the equestrian event, knowing gold was beyond our grasp. And we did it, so what else was there to do but hug a total stranger to celebrate?. Oooo I love the Olympics – gold’s the next goal, possibly tomorrow….please!

Silver for Team GB - the scene before the hugging!

Magnificent magnificence

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People who don’t know any better talk about Bradford as if it’s the poor relation of every other northern city and as we northerners know, that puts it bottom of the pile. Well, ya boo sucks to you Bradford naysayers, this weekend, with the official opening of City Park, it was the best city in the country. So there.

I really do get fed up of the way Bradford is portrayed in the media and Twittersphere. Channel Four’s recent Make Bradford British fly-in-the-ointment, I mean fly on the wall, documentary just underlined all the anti-Bradfordness. Come on, guys, give the city a break.

With my Exposure Leeds hat on, the community photography social enterprise I’m part of, I took a gaggle of 30 or so people on a photowalk around the City Park official opening celebrations on Saturday. Actually, I should have had an Exposure Leeds hat on, a very very large one, because as soon as we stepped out from the meeting place at Impressions Gallery, we were swallowed up by the thousands and thousands of people who were enjoying the celebrations in the six-acre space. I soon lost 20 of them, it always happens!

I have never seen so many people so good naturedly having a great time in the city centre. Children and quite a few adults were splashing in the Mirror Pool, the focal point of the park, where fountains gurgle, splash and spout, depending on which way out they’re feeling. Two gymnasts were twirling and tumbling, suspended from giant helium balloons and the street entertainment just went on and on. Even the electioneering candidates hoping to get a look-in at this week’s by-election were greeted cordially, I shook George Galloway’s hand and had my head examined by the Monster Raving Loony Party candidate who confirmed that I am in fact bonkers. Tell me something I don’t know!

The idea of a photowalk is to walk and take photos, pretty simple really. It encourages people to look for something different to photograph, try something new and to enjoy the challenge. By the time we returned to Impressions, others were uploading their photos, with many of them displayed on the large public screen in the city centre.

The finale was two-pronged. On the one hand, there was a spectacular firework display, on the other, protesters good-naturedly, symbolically and actually turned their backs on the festivities to face the crumbling old Odeon cinema, cunningly hidden behind scaffolding and wrapping.

The Odeon was a splendid art deco-style cinema which has fallen on hard times since it closed at the turn of the millennium. There were plans to renovate and feature it as part of the city centre development, but that hasn’t happened so people have got a bit peeved, hence the protest. In my book, it didn’t detract from the fabulous day, it just underlined that the city has a heart and cares. How many other cities can say that, eh?