Birmingham Grit: Black and White Urban Photography

Although the following saying, ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’, was no doubt around for many years before the author Margaret Wolfe Hungerford included it in her book ‘Molly Bawn’ (1878), it still stands as a widely used idiom to this day. Beauty can be found in many scenarios, even in the worst environments; but it’s a subjective beauty and not one that all will agree with or even see. I think one of the skills of a photographer is to bring out that beauty and hopefully highlight it in a positive or at least palatable way, so others can realise or maybe understand what they’re seeing.

Birmingham has many beautiful sights, colourful, diverse and often classically elegant, but it does have its darker, less vibrant side. It doesn’t make the city any less of a place to visit, in fact for me it gives it a good balance, the whole Ying and Yang vibe. Sometimes I like to go out and find something that’s not so perfect, not so clinically beautiful and see if I can draw out some kind of pleasing image. Like I said, it’s all subjective, but I think it helps in building your skill set and experience, because if you make a great picture out of a gritty urban scene, then those same skills will help you make an amazing picture from something that has a natural charm.

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