You know what? Manchester really gets a raw deal when it comes to photography. People bang on about how London is the great beating heart of street photography, matched only by Paris and New York - and yeah, it is great - but scant attention is paid to this rather characterful Northern city. True, it's no where near as old, big and romantic - but it does hold a lot of charm for my admittedly skewed eyes. There's the crumbling old buildings of the industrial revolution for example. Whilst many cities had their hearts torn out by either the Luftwaffe or 1960's Utopian city planners (usually both) Manchester managed to hold on to its old mills, warehouses and factories. Many now stand as apartments, or are mainly derelict, but the architecture is still there. Pockmarked old red brick and fire escapes flanking narrow uneven alleys. I love it. Maybe its what comes of living in Cardiff which seems to rejoice in tearing down interesting old buildings, but Manchester has soul for me.
Plus there's some neat bohemian areas. Affleck's Palace is pretty much a must visit, a giant old maze like building converted into a huge vintage clothing and antiques centre. One minute you're in a strange, dark, pokey room filled with WWII knick-knacks and the next you're in an lovely, airy, 1950's style diner with huge windows letting in the limpid grey light of the cloudy North. Great stuff.
Now I was only in Manchester for an afternoon but I saw great opportunity everywhere. Shame I was kind of in a rush shopping with others or I would have made a real dedicated fist of things. Still I had just enough sympathy to be able to bust out my D90 and my Yashica film camera. The film I'm still working through, but here are some of the digital pics from the day. Click on each for a bigger pop-up version.
So go check Manchester out, and while you're at it why not go and have a look at some of Bill Brandt's work? He was a photographer who took some incredibly atmospheric black and white photographs of the Salford area of Manchester, all giant smokestacks, trudging workers and gleaming cobblestones. It's supremely atmospheric stuff.
I finish off with an additional shot I took in Whitby on Tuesday, a seaside town famed for its Dracula connection and for being the departure point of one Captain Cook. It's packed with curiosity shops, and in one chaotic place filled with bric-a-brac I found these two odd fellows...