on 13 April 2013
To my great shame, the name of John Bulmer was new to me when this book came up on Amazon as a 'customers also bought' when I was searching for something else. From a dock town near Grimsby, and growing up in the 1960s, the subject matter intrigued me. The book consists of eight photo essays made for magazines - mainly the Sunday Times - between 1960 and 1976. The photography both individually and collectively is out of the very top drawer, comparable to the very best documentary photography. The fact that the earliest work is monochrome and then we see the transition to colour makes this very special indeed. A marvellous book.
on 19 March 2013
Maybe this should be renamed It's Grim Up North because these gritty, grainy photos were commissioned to show a North that was unknown to most people living in the South at the time. Factories, cobbled streets, working men's clubs are all beautifully photographed sometimes in street photography style, sometimes more formally composed. The black and White photos are pure traditional photo journalism but the colour photos were were a new thing at the time, give a new perspective to a subject that could have easily become a cliche.
This collection of photos should be considered essential viewing for anyone who wants to escape a world of heavily filtered, poorly composed Instagrams on the Internet - these aren't " an effect" avaiable for selection, these are the real deal.
on 19 April 2014
After having discovered some of John's photography online, I waited eagerly for the release of this book. It didn't disappoint. I've taken to describing him as my favourite photographer, without exception. Whenever I need a arty gift for friends and family, I reach for another copy of this seminal book.
I grew up in the North at the tail end of John's career, and I find his photos incredibly evocative of our lives back then - or at least how we have come to remember them. To those "grim up North" clichés - you've missed the point. All around us once proud cities were having their hearts ripped out - but look at the people's faces - full of joy and humour despite the architectural desolation. Beauty and humour can dwell in the most adverse conditions.
Thankyou John, I hope you find the credit you deserve.