The Story behind the Portrait
Hull is my home and I grew up in the old town market area. I work for my family in a business they set in in 1978 selling American vintage clothing. I feel I have always been surrounded by all sorts of amazing characters from an early age. Over the last few years I have seen lots of changes in Hull and it became important to me to start documenting these.
I’ve always been into taking photographs and this last couple of years I’ve started to use Instagram to share my work. I’ve had lots of encouragement there that gave me a direction and helped me focus. Loads of photographers inspire me and I love Instagram for that reason – that you get to see and sometimes interact with lots of inspiring people and their photography. Tish Murtha, Jeff Mermelstein and more recently Tom Wood & Nick Waplington spring to mind as photographers I admire as they capture a real and natural feel in their work.
A year ago I made a point of carrying my camera with me as much as possible. Just going out, walking places , meeting people and this led to chance encounters that became very much part of how I work. Working in the shop in Hull’s old town gives me plenty of opportunities to capture images of people as they go about their everyday business. I take photos of anything that inspires or interests me. I probably gravitate towards surreal, some might even say banal or unusual situations. I want to document life as I see it right now, before it changes into something new again.
Essentially, I hope my photographs can tell a story. Sometimes that may be through documenting a time and a place as is happening now for me in Hull. I interpret a scene in front of me and then a viewer further interprets it. The way I work involves me mostly taking candid shots then moving on to the next picture uninterrupted. Sometimes this can lead to taking a portrait and an interesting conversation.
The portrait I am showing here is of a guy called Kim. I was driving to work and noticed him from my car. One glance and straight away the scene interested me. A man, a plaid suit, an industrial backdrop. What was happening here? I parked up and went back and approached him for a chat and hopefully a photograph. We talked about sharp suits and it was a real pleasure to chat with this nice, easy going bloke. But why was he here? In this scene that made me stop my car and go back and start a conversation with him? It turned out to be Kim’s daughter’s wedding day and he had arrived early. “Calm before the storm” he said. So here he was, sitting reading his paper, some quiet moments, just waiting for it to begin.
This photo in particular encouraged me in in my work and gave me more confidence to approach people for street portraiture. I couldn’t have asked for a better chance encounter than the one that day with Kim – sitting in his sharp suit, reading the paper and waiting for his daughter to be wed.
I take photos of anything that inspires or interests me. I probably gravitate towards surreal, some might even say banal or unusual situations. I want to document life as I see it right now, before it changes into something new again.
Bobby Beasley is a documentary photographer based in Hull. People, places, unusual situations and the surreal are the things that make him tick. He views a camera as a good excuse to get chatting to folk. A lot of his documentary photography is made on his way to and from work, with chance encounters with people met along the way.