A fleeting glimpse of the Bullring Markets

I’ve lived in Birmingham for 11 years now, and while I do still feel most at home when I return to Glasgow I believe I am very much an adopted Brummie (minus the accent of course!). My history with this city goes back long before March 2006 when I relocated here to pursue a new career opportunity though. Back in the early 90’s my family made several trips to the city to visit extended family who resided in Bournville at the time. My memories of these trips of course are scattered and fragmented as I wasn’t even a teenager at the time however there are two which stand out very strongly in my mind, 1) playing Sensible Soccer on my cousin Nick’s Commodore Amiga computer, and 2) visiting the Bullring Markets.

The markets at that time (from my memory) were very different to how they are now thanks to the regeneration of the Bullring area in the early 2000’s, however the feelings I recall from those trips are still the same today whenever I visit the markets which date back to 1166. Noise, colour, diversity and life are the words that come to mind whenever I think of those busy and iconic markets. I was reminded of this recently while killing time waiting for a friend to meet me in the city centre. I had half an hour to kill so I decided to try to get some shots from in and around the markets while I waited, so I headed down there and began to drift among the traders and shoppers that were packing the market ‘streets’. It was an extremely hot Friday which only added to the feeling of activity and life in the markets at the time. Passing through the throngs of shoppers I was nervous at first when trying to take shots of the people around me as anyone would be, however after starting a few conversations prompted by cheeky shots grabbed of passersby, it soon became clear that actually most people were used to it in the markets.

There was so much life to capture around each corner in the markets that it was a constant battle to try to grab those fleeting moments that were occurring in these peoples lives. I loved grabbing shots of the traders while they were lost in moments of contemplation amongst the hubbub of the shoppers. Often I would be caught in the act by the trader in my viewfinder which would then lead to a conversation about the markets and their lives, and of course the obligatory portrait shot!

Below is a selection of the images I took on the day which I hope capture the sense of activity and life in the market on that hot and hectic Friday a few weeks ago.

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Words and Images by Fraser McGee (@frasermcgee).