As a lot of you know, I spent a lot of time in Yorkshire in my 20s and into my 30s, living in York and Leeds/Bradford, as my friends often find out. And it was a great experience being in Yorkshire and experiencing the cultures and the people in a community that really has that same passion about their land as us Northumbrians and Geordies do. So it was fantastic to get an enquiry from Laura White some time ago. I’ve known Laura for a lot of years and she asked me about a shoot in a community centre in the south of Leeds and I was like, ‘Alright, let’s see if we can figure this out,’ ‘cause my last job in Yorkshire was working for Leeds City Council Area Support Team in the south of the city, supporting the communities of Middleton, Belle Isle, the city and Hunslet. So knowing that area very well, the conversation started, ‘Oh it’s a community project, working with young people to get them into sports that we wouldn’t normally get them into. Working predominantly with disabled children and really having a fun time, getting them into these sports.’ So of course, quick chat, let’s go and do the shoot. Went and did the shoot, came back, client absolutely loved it. At the time I didn’t realise it was going into Yorkshire Housing’s magazine that went out to however many thousand different places but it was the start of a really good relationship that out myself and Laura on a number different of projects.
So since then, I’ve had the chance to go to Scarborough to see a young gentleman in a supported living flat that’s really changed his life around and is really making a difference through some extreme adversity. And also, I managed to get the chance to go to Beverley to see the Chair of the Yorkshire Area Tenants Forum. And talking to a gentleman that felt to me like a local councillor but with a housing twist, it was fantastic and it certainly took me back to my days working at a local authority and working with communities where people in communities that really had that passion about making a difference to people and making sure everybody’s getting their fair share and really getting the support that they need in their housing provision. So, cut to this year, we’ve had potential for four or five different projects and some of those have come off and some of them haven’t, just because of the nature of the people and the nature of the geography involved.
But actually a really good one and I forgot about, was Irene, the 101-year old lady from York, who I went and took pictures of with her certificate from The Queen and all the history. And she started talking, she was there with her daughter and one of the staff members and she started listing off a few things about Fulford, where she used to live. Now I lived in Fulford for a good four or five years on and off in different things and I play golf at Fulford Golf Club and the University’s right next to it, so I know the area really well. And it was really good chatting to her, because she said a couple of places, just in passing, as people do. And I went, ‘Oh no, next to such and such, or you know, next to that building,’ and she went, ‘Yes,’ knowing that I’m from Newcastle and knowing that I’m out of the area. And she was fascinated by how I knew these things and she started listing off about York City Football Club and I’ve been part of corporate hospitality of York City Football Club a few times. And it was great having those conversations. And you could see by her daughter and the staff members’ face that just having that tiny bit of knowledge about an area, or a thing, or a bit of history, just makes such a difference. It made the shoot so much easier, because there was something to talk about. And it was an ice breaker and it wasn’t just this bloke coming in to take photos.
Now, I’m not saying I’ve got an expertise in everything, we never do, but over the years I’ve had a skill of being able to maintain a bit of knowledge on many, many topics, whether that be, obviously my science background with my degree and my master’s in chemistry, through to the photography. But obviously in a geography perspective, my child often gets confused with how many places I know of or facts about places. It’s just information that floats around my head on a regular basis, so I am a wealth of random facts and they’ve helped me so much over the time and this is a good example, where just that bit of geography of an area really made a shoot go so much easier, because we could laugh and joke about a place and it’d be a right conversation, rather than, ‘Hey, hello, I’m a photographer, smile!’ Because that often gets people into a place of worry, because the photographer’s there to do a job and you’ve got to smile and da la la la la. Where actually, if we can break that down and just have a little chat, it makes things so much easier.
So I’m sure you haven’t seen one of my pictures from that shoot because obviously, it went in the magazines that went very local to Yorkshire, but for me it’s been great going back to Yorkshire to do these things and to work with Laura and Yorkshire Housing on a regular basis. And long may it continue! We have a few things potentially in the diary, so fingers crossed we can get those fully booked in and get everything lined up. Have you been to Yorkshire much? Is Yorkshire a place that you visit on a regular basis? Whether that’s down in the wolds, or the cities of York and Leeds, Huddersfield and Halifax and the old ‘Rhubarb Triangle’ and collect all those facts and all of those fun things that make me chuckle and smile as we go round there.