photography

A New City by Nigel Rumsey

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For me visiting a new city follows something of a regular pattern. For the first few hours, I don't like it, wherever it is. That's pretty much a given. It could be the holiday destination of your dreams - I won't like it. They could be scattering orchid petals in front of me on the street - I still won't like it. Period. I'm generally the trip organiser. I tell myself I do it under sufferance but in reality, it's a control issue - I think something would get forgotten if I didn't do it. So because I've arranged everything I have this performance anxiety thing going on. My wife won’t like it, the hotel’s going to be a roach infested pit and we’re going to get mugged - the usual stuff everyone worries about.

A woman waiting for fries in a Berlin fast food store

However, once that's passed and it is generally only a few hours. Then fairly quickly after that, I want to live there. Not lock, stock, and barrel sell our house and move. Just live there for a while, three months seems ideal. Long enough to get to know the place.

My fantasy, which is fully developed by now, generally involves renting a small apartment. I like the idea of an apartment because it's easy to maintain, there are no distractions from the work in hand. I don't want to waste my time gardening or sweeping the yard. I'm going there to be an artist nothing else. Once settled I'd spend my time wandering the streets with my trusty camera documenting the life of everyday man. In the evening I drink red wine and eat at a pavement café.

That’s not so unusual, I hear you thinking, everyone does that, from time to time. But for me it's not time-to-time it's every time!

A woman working late at night seen through an open window

This fantasy doesn't always end when I leave the city. When I got home from visiting Eugene, Oregon, I spent several hours trawling rental properties online. Deciding which one I was going to rent like I was actually going to do it. I like the view from that one, but it’s a long walk from the town, that’s no good, I tell myself.

I picture myself like W. Eugene Smith trying to record the whole of Pittsburgh.

One property consisted of a small cottage at the bottom of the owners garden. I developed the story I was going to tell them about why I was there. As long as there's no gardening required that would be fine. I'm not going to have time for gardening.

Hands tending a plant through an open window

The latest object of my desire was Berlin. We visited last month and stayed in a great hotel in Neukölln. We loved it. The streets behind the hotel were jammed with suitable apartments, it was ideal. A new city to explore my imagination ran riot. There are lovely little bars and a really welcoming atmosphere. I don’t speak more than the very basics of German, but that’ll come, I told myself, once you’re living here, chatting to people every day.

A group in a bar watching a football game

Maybe this fantasising is the sign of some malcontent in my life as it is. Could it be I just have an overactive imagination? I’m going to Bristol for the weekend soon, so if you’re interested in the state of the rental market give me a few days and I’ll be the man to ask.

A woman waiting on a u-bahn platform.

Gravesend Street Portraits by Nigel Rumsey

I had a great couple of hour shooting some street portraits in Gravesend last Sunday. I took the opportunity to hand out some of my 'We Are Gravesend' flyers, hopefully I contacted with some interested participants. If you've landed here after meeting me on Sunday please get in touch, I'd love you to take part in the project.

A portrait of a young couple, Steve & Adele, in Gravesend.

A portrait of Wendy on the street in Gravesend.

A portrait of a young woman, Isabel, in Gravesend.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to stop.

We Are Gravesend flyer by Nigel Rumsey

This week I've started trying to get my We Are Gravesend flyers in as many shop windows and on as many noticeboards around the town as possible. If you're here as the result of seeing one please head over to my project page to find out some more information.  If you'd like to take part please get in touch. The flyer for my We Are Gravesend photography project

 

Summer at Batemans by Nigel Rumsey

I don't make the effort to get out with my Hasselblad as often as I would like, but when I do I'm very rarely disappointed with the results. If you've ever used one you'll know it's not a camera to be rushed, but that guides the type of shot you take. So inevitably they're more contemplative than they might be with a smaller, lighter, camera. Just to emphasise the scale of the backlog in my film developing, scanning and posting, this shot which I scanned last week is not from this summer, it's not even from this year, it's sometime during the balmy days of last summer.

A young boy sitting under a tree at National Trust property Batemans,

This is the former home of Rudyard Kipling, now a National Trust property, Bateman's.

 

We are Gravesend : Genevieve Jones from Sierra Leone by Nigel Rumsey

A portrait of Gravesend resident Genny JonesIt's such a great feeling to have finally started my personal project about my home town, Gravesend, Kent. Yesterday I had the privilege of shooting and interviewing Genevieve 'Genny' Jones, an inspirational woman and one of the real life-bloods of our community. If there's a community event in Gravesend it's likely somewhere behind it will be Genny Jones - The Confident Queen. Genny was born in Sierra Leone and is the first, but my intention is to photograph and interview at least one person from each of the nationalities in the borough. In 2011 that numbered 40, I have no idea how many there may be now but it will be interesting finding out.

If you live in Gravesend, were born outside the UK and are interested in taking part please get in touch. However I understand not everyone welcomes immigration, it has effected the lives of residents here as it has in many towns in the UK. As I write we are five days from a General Election and immigration has featured significantly in all of the debates. If you were born in Gravesend and have lived here all of your life you'll have seen your town change significantly in the last 20 years. I'd love to meet you and hear your views.

You can read more about the project here.

Henk Wildschut - Calais, December 2012 by Nigel Rumsey

Henk_Wildschut_shelter In this video Henk Wildschut revisits the site of the Calais camps he previously photographed in his series Shelter. It highlights the difficult circumstances of those waiting to get to across the English Channel, many risking life and limb to make the crossing. It vividly shows that the view of these migrants from either side of the channel is never clear-cut.

Henk Wildschut - Calais, December 2012 from ARTtube on Vimeo.

I'd urge you to look at Henk's website. He has several interesting documentary projects in addition to Shelter. The series Food, details the work of hi-tech food production facilities, however food in question is that which the layperson would expect to be raised on a farm in something approaching fresh air. One of the most fascinating and at the same time depressing pieces of work I've seen in some time.