129a, Red, Vagner Lopez by Richard Nolan-Neylan.
Two years ago Richard took a portrait of a shop keeper In Stoke Newington Church Street, East London, to enter into the National Portrait Gallery, Portrait Competition . This is where the idea was formed to take a series of pictures of the small shop keepers (that's small shops not small keepers) that gives the street its character.
Richard was fascinated by the unusual diversity of the shops in this one street, matched only by the diversity of the owners, each with a story to tell. In this age of bland, homogenized, national chain high streets, Richard was keen to record and celebrate the independent shop and keeper
To get his pictures, Richard's method was to turn up unannounced at a shop with his trusty Mamiya, introduce himself and his project and with permission get the picture there and then. Richard told how ‘‘ordinary people" are often bemused by why anyone would want to take their picture, but the reaction was generally positive, a credit to Richard's people skills.
As Mentioned Richard used a Mamiya, a medium format camera with a 90 mm lens, Using Fujicolor PRO Series film who has kindly sponsored the exhibition. All the pictures were taken using natural light, therefore as the shutter speed was slow, he used a tripod, and asked his subjects to stay as still as possible.
|46, KAC, Grant & Asaf Rifat by Richard Nolan-Neylan. |
The negatives were scanned into digital files and printed using a Lamda process and the quality of the images at large size is stunning, the detail captured, fantastic.
I was very impressed by the high standard of the images, something an amature photographer can aspire to. Some of the shops like the flower shop and the toy shop are designed to look stylish and inviting, but even a hardware shop has interest in the shapes and colours and patterns. Things which most of us would normally not pay much attention to. These small enclosed spaces make a great backdrop for a portrait, especially when so much of the sitter's personality is reflected by their environment. As Richard said: "Entering an independent shopkeeper's shop is like entering their home - the space is filled with the nuances of their life - the chosen décor, their tastes, their beliefs."
176, The Fox Reformed, Robbie & Carol Richards by Richard Nolan-Neylan.
Fittingly the exhibition is being held in one of the shops featured, a vegetarian restaurant. Initially the exhibition was due to run for one month, but the restaurant owners are so impressed with the exhibition they have extended the run until January 09.
An impressive first exhibition, which as a keen portraitist I really enjoyed.
Richard's next project is to explore the world of Burlesque...... I look forward to that.
Words by Martin Jordan.
The Face of Church Street -An Exhibition by Richard Nolan-Neylan will be at The Blue Legume 101 Stoke Newington Church Street, London N16 OUD until the middle of January 2009.