De Montfort University
Despite studying an art based degree, I am perhaps the least “arty” person possibly on the face of the Earth. I’m not keen on fine art photography, and fashion based photoshoots just don’t compute on my motherboard of rationality and my processor of interestingness.
My whole photography career has been centred on technical aspects of the practice. I’m much more interested in how I make my own photographs than relating my work, post production, to the likes of the early surrealists or other major art movements. But obviously you have to ground your work in photographic history and do your background research first so you can make work in response to an artist, rather than making pretty work and “blagging” it afterwards.
What really gets my photo node pulsating is documentary photography, and work that is grounded in reality, not away with the conceptual fairies. In basic terms, photography was invented for painters to get a snapshot of the scene so they didn’t have to sit outside all day. The very realness of the medium is what makes me so much more interested in using it to depict the real; it is of course just light particles falling onto a light sensitive piece of silver nitrate-covered plastic or a set of a few million pixels on an image sensor, and using it for anything other than documenting the world or capturing things that are rooted in reality just doesn't interest me.
Football has been something special to me since following my beloved Birmingham City since my first game, Blues against Gillingham on the 29th of November 1994 on the hallowed turf at St Andrews, to going to watch my local non-league side Solihull Moors compete in the Conference North division in the obscurity of the non-league football pyramid against such footballing giants as Vauxhall Motors and Blyth Spartans. I always get the same feeling of comfort when I go and watch a game, no matter if it’s in front of 30,000 or 300.
But documenting football, and more importantly the actual grounds and the brilliant characters that you meet is not something that I have ever been able to do, but with the backing of a university project behind me, it was finally possible. I wanted to distance myself from the professional game and traditional sports photography of the actual match, as you see that on every TV channel and in every newspaper no matter what time of day or year. I’m far more interested in the quirky world of the semi-pro/amateur world of strange stadiums, and the weird fans that occupy them.
The work you see here is just a snapshot of that, from the odd looking fans, to the grounds with plastic pitches or indeed a whole cycle velodrome around the outside burying the stands behind 8 feet of steep concrete.
However, I ask you not to just write these off as “pictures of football grounds”. Consider them as landscapes, or as architectural photography; this is where our national game comes from, and where all of the big names you see on TV, in the World Cup and the Champions League started their career, before all the hype, the money and the WAGs.
…Here lies my love of football