Due to circumstances way beyond my control, this summer would have marked the 4th consecutive year I hadn’t returned to Britain — the longest I’d ever gone without a visit. At the beginning of July, however, my wife thankfully got another all clear from the hospital following on from her battle with cancer a few years ago; a result that allowed us to bag some last minute flights and head back for some long overdue time with family and old friends.
Yet in those intervening years, a lot has changed. On a personal level, my view — or perhaps more accurately, outlook — on life has shifted after witnessing up close the ravages and utter randomness of a life-threatening disease. Similarly, and in the same context, my experiences with people close and otherwise have also had an impact on my way of thinking. Together, these have been positive and negative, although all of it, both the good and the very bad, has been useful — at least with the benefit of hindsight it has anyway.
Far more significantly, Britain has undergone some serious upheavals of its own during the same period. Even more so when one includes all the years I haven’t actually lived there. And yet anything and everything is now dwarfed by the all-encompassing beast that is Brexit. A decision that going forward is presumably going to make the country a very different place from the one I knew — or perhaps thought I knew. But would I notice, or would things seem pretty much the same?
All of which finally gets me somewhere near to the photos in question. I didn’t purposely go out to try and capture scenes that — whether overtly or otherwise — referenced any of the changes the country is going through. Of course, whether they actually do so in any kind of clear, meaningful or accurate way is very debatable to say the least. Similarly debatable are my views on life in the UK itself, as obviously they are based on what I’ve read, seen or heard, rather than being underpinned by real experience. But subconsciously at least, the settings I felt drawn to seemed to reflect my thoughts much more than I intended. An interesting element that further added to the refreshing nature of shooting in my original home, rather than my adopted one. Some very different scenery that will hopefully make for an interesting change on these pages too.
Even though I only know you by your photogtaphs, glad to hear the good news !
It’s interesting to see the difference between these photos and the ones you usually take in Japan, differences because the country is different but at the same time some very close themes.
I’m sure you could make a collection where you put Japan and UK photographs side by side. Same theming, different country.
Any plan to visit any å»ƒå¢Ÿ while in the UK ?
Thank you very much!
Yeah, I think theme-wise there are just certain things I’m drawn to, and so it doesn’t really matter where I am. Nice to have consistency too.
That would make for an interesting set of photos. Only trouble is I’m not in the UK very often. But definitely something to think about next time I head back.
I’m in Japan again now, so no chance of a UK Haikyo anymore. Didn’t have any plans, but did find quite a few abandoned places when I was there though. One or two looked like they had potential as well, but sadly they were totally sealed…
I got this idea of dual pictures after having the feeling that I had already seen these pictures somewhere on your blog. Which of course I did not ! But I did get a mental image of some other pictures you took in Japan.
I guess your photographs do have some powerful impression on my mind, if I can get reminded of them that way.
That’s good to hear. Really good. Gives me a lot of confidence in what I’m trying to do. Thank you!
Beautiful pictures and beautiful post. I feel the same way about my own country of America too…strange feeling:)
Thank you! Glad you liked them.
Good to hear it’s not just me. It really is an odd feeling, isn’t it…?
Big congrats on the great news! 🙂
Interesting set of photos. I enjoyed reading about your thought process. Don’t get that too often? 😉
The first shot is my big fave. Great framing and contrast! 🙂
Cheers. Wasn’t sure if it was necessary or not, but it was good to try and articulate my feelings. Happy top hear you found them interesting.
Cheers. That’s my favourite too. Spotted the mine on the horizon and ended up walking for hours to get there. Totally worth it though, especially with the car there. That was a wonderful surprise!
Scribbling Geek says
Very powerful and thoughtful pictures. After viewing, I find myself wondering whether this is the inevitable route for all modern countries.
That’s a good point. It’s certainly not something unique to the UK, is it? The photos I chose (and chose to take) are clearly on the bleak side, so obviously don’t give a fully rounded picture of how things are. At the same time though, they are what they are. Scenes I saw when out and about. Some things and some people are flourishing, but an awful lot aren’t…
By ‘eck, it’s grim up north.
I spent a fair bit of time in Manchester and its environs in years gone by, so it’s interesting to see this collection of your photographs.
The street art of Mr Grimshaw really is something else and his other works are well worth looking up.
The back alley photograph is my favourite. In contrast with a similar Tokyo scene the skywires are far cleaner and less messy, but at street level it’s quite the other way around.
The whole Brexit thing is just a vague irritation, being something that will dominate the media for years and have no discernible impact on most. Can’t say I noticed any difference when we joined the EU, doubt I’ll notice anything when we leave.
On a up note, most excellent news about your good lady.
Haha, it is indeed. Or at least some parts are.
Cheers. Yeah, it offers an interesting contrast to Japan in many ways. Had a good explore of Manchester city centre too when I was back. Interesting to see how the city is changing. The Northern Quarter in particular was a highlight. That’s where the urban art shot was taken. When I left proper, the city was still recovering from the IRA bomb that destroyed a good chunk of the Andale and its adjacent areas. Passing through Victoria on the tram in, the signs of the latest one were visible too. Some things sadly don’t change, although thankfully the city’s reliance hasn’t either.
Thank you! Yes, that was another big result. Long may they continue!
Maybe it’s subliminal but I get the impression that you’ve concluded that Britain’s somewhat wrecked!
Haha, it does come across that way, doesn’t it?
But no, that wouldn’t be a true depiction. Yes there are problems, and some places are desperately in need money, but that’s only one aspect. Other areas are thriving, and there is rejuvenation aplenty. Then there’s the people, culture etc. It’s just looking rather frayed around the edges that’s all, and that’s probably more noticeable to someone who only visits occasionally.
blessed be the joined up writers and repentants on stilts.
blessed be the artists and those who cue.
blessed be the musicians and purveyors of wholesome teacakes
blessed be bumcheecks
we are very bles.
Brexit’s ok.. we can sell buns.
Haha, very good. May bumcheeks always be blessed!
Oh no..my spelling, but I like it! A new Manchester band??
As you say above it is the people, culture and humour in lieu of the need for a slightly more even spreading of cash… and maybe a few tubs of plants here and there.
If there isn’t a band called bumcheeks, then there really should be!
Yes, it really is. Unfortunately, with the current government it’s hard to see that money getting spread more evenly, or directed where it’s most needed, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen in the future. Just got to hope that by the time those corrections are made, it’s not too little too late…
No matter what country you are photographing Lee, you provoke thoughts. You don’t take the shots that tourists take, and that is what makes you so different. Enjoyed everyone of them, keep on shooting.
Thank you very much. That’s really kind of you. Absolutely lovely to hear.
Fortunately it’s the non-touristy stuff that generally appeals to me, so then it’s just a case of trying to get an interesting shot. Something that without a doubt I will continue to try and do.
This is so thoroughly good.
” the settings I felt drawn to seemed to reflect my thoughts much more than I intended.”
This is honesty, self awareness and purity/humility that I’d hope everyone would appreciate and aspire to. Thanks for putting yourself out there in your pictures and your commentary. At the same time I have to say that I am drawn to your photos (well – many* of them) despite my own thoughts and tendencies. And somehow, in a good way, they move me and stick with me. In that way they help me grow aware of things I’d otherwise minimize or miss.
* There’s some that don’t invoke the “despite” 🙂 I’m a fan of smiles.
Thank you. That’s really kind of you.
There’s probably a lot more of me in my pictures than I’d care to let on, but in this case in particular it seemed right to talk about it. And after doing so it was lovely to read you comment. Made it more than worthwhile.
Really good to hear that my photos have such an affect on you sometimes. While I primarily take photos for myself, there’s always the hope that other people may get something out of them too. To hear that they do is really encouraging.
The first photo would definitely qualify as some sort of historic image capture. I am fascinated by the juxtaposition of the rotting automobile going back to the Earth, while the much older building is still in pretty commendable shape. Old technology versus the new ?
Here in the States there are a number of published books with photos and descriptive texts on crumbling America. You could be well along the way to a similar effort for Nippon; or perhaps the UK.
Yeah, seeing the old mine on the horizon and then finally reaching it was great, but finding the car there as well was a wonderfully unexpected treat. A genuinely fascinating scene. So much can be read into it as well.
Cheers. I’m slowly building up a decent collection of crumbling Japan photos, but don’t get back to the UK enough to get anywhere near as many shots. There’d be plenty of options if I did though…
Beautiful shots, but arresting and sobering. I immediately thought of the sentiment: “This is not the future we were promised.”
Like any place, there’re spots in the UK, London, that do look like “the future” – just as there are many in Tokyo, but reality is always starker and more affecting than the dream. The depictions of humanity in these photos provide a great softening contrast – one of the consistent highlights of your work.
Good news on the second “all clear”. Congrats to your wife, and best wishes.
Yes, it’s not what we were promised, or dreamed of, is it? Far from it…
Thank you. That’s very good to know. The set was much bleaker than I anticipated, so good to know the people in there add another dimension.
Thank you very much. Much appreciated. I shall pass on your kind words.