With their exhibition images about to be revealed, you may well want to know more about the people behind the shots. Stay tuned all week to meet a number of the featured photographers, as well as the trio behind IGers Birmingham (Beth, Martin and Fraser).
We asked each photographer to tell us a bit about themselves and their exhibited shot, as well as the photo that they are most proud of. Take a look at their accounts to see the photos in their original glory.
Looking for information on a particular photographer? The blog posts are broken down as follows:
- Part 1: Photographers in the printed display with first names from A to H
- Part 2: Photographers in the printed display with first names from J to T
- Part 3: Photographers in the digital display with first names from A to J
- Part 4: Photographers in the digital display with first names from K to T
- Part 5: Beth Astington
- Part 6: Martin O’Callaghan
- Part 7: Fraser McGee
Aaron Dodd, @aarondodd.photography
I am an amateur photographer who has arrived relatively late to the photography hobbyist party. Facing the impending milestone of turning 40, and the realisation that amidst the hectic routine of a young family and work, I had neglected to find time for myself; I decided to purchase my first DSLR and haven’t looked back.
I have always been interested in the visual arts, having initially studied at the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, before completing my HND in Visual Communication. I left education and spent several years working as a digital retoucher for a number of national magazines and on advertising campaigns for large multinational companies. In 2004 however, in a moment of soul-searching, I left the industry to retrain as a social worker, where I have spent the past 13 years thoroughly enjoying.
I am still developing my own style, and have a tendency to steer towards monochromatic images, which I feel make the image more dramatic and provide a greater impact on the viewer. With these images, the distraction of colours are removed and the image left, is one that has a high contrast and provides a powerful narrative which encourages the viewer to ask questions. I particularly enjoy taking impromptu street portraits of the people whom I meet across Birmingham and the multiple sub-cultures / communities that make up this great city.
My exhibition image was one of the first photographs I took having purchased my first DSLR, it was taken whilst out with my two young girls having a walk around my local area. I found the architecture of the underpass made for a good composition and by chance there was a group of local youth cycling and skateboarding, who were more than happy for me to shoot them.
I have lived all my life in Birmingham and am particularly proud of its heritage and cultural diversity, IGers Birmingham as a community allows me to share my images of the city and the people who make up its communities; with like minded people who share a sense of identity with this city.
I am particularly proud of this image as Ii feel it captures what I enjoy most about my photography and the style which I veer towards. It is one that has done well in a number of photographic exhibitions and was the first image I have ever felt confident to enter as a representation of my photography.
Aaron Johal, @aaron.johal
Originally from West Bromwich, I’m currently a masters student at the Manchester School of Architecture, with my interest in architectural photography stemming from my time on a research excursion in Germany, tasked with documenting the built environment for my dissertation, and although my involvement with IGers Birmingham hasn’t been that extensive so far I would like to develop a tangible connection in the future once I move back to the Midlands.
My exhibition shot of the mirrored ceiling at Grand Central was taken as I entered the building coming up from Digbeth Coach Station after a short stay in Cardiff, and as with all of my photos it was taken using my Huawei P8 camera phone.
Well I don’t have a particular photo that I’m proud of, although as I’m now back in Manchester for my studies, and with it being my 100th post on Instagram, a photo taken outside Afflecks Palace in the city probably best describes how my photography will develop in the coming year.
Alex Baker, @xandybakero
I’m a South Birmingham based amateur photographer who is fortunate enough to travel regularly around Europe and the USA with my work, by day I work as the EMEA Compliance Manager for a silicon valley based IT company and get to work with many major global businesses. I had a casual interest in taking photographs for a number of years on my phone, I never pushed myself to develop it as a skill until I picked up a very cheap Sony a58 and a bunch of 1980’s Minolta lenses off eBay in the Summer of 2016, so I still consider myself very much a novice and my IG account probably illustrates my development since last year quite well. My photography style is probably based on exploring the places I visit and the area I live, I take photos of anything I see and like, some of my most random shots have been my favourites.
For my exhibition shot, I really just hoped to get an effective shot of the whole of the Selfridges building, I kept seeing parts of it in some really great photos on IGersBirmingham but never the entire building, which I think is pretty special.
As a relative novice I feel I have seen great examples of what can be achieved in photography, I’m in other photography groups but I feel like IGers Birmingham is a real community, also they don’t complain when I bombard them with photos of Birmingham!
I have lots of photos in my feed that I am proud of, but this one was probably the first time I felt particularly proud of a shot. I was really happy with how clean the sunset looked, Lulea is a very quiet and peaceful place and I felt that I captured that atmosphere in the photo.
Barry Whitehead, @bazjayuu
I am a Yorkshireman by birth but have been very happy and content driving my bus through the streets of Birmingham for the last 5 years. My interest in photography stems from my youth many many years ago when I was a kid living on my parents pig farm. Over the years the interest has faded and been rekindled many times, but now as I reach my September years it is probably stronger than ever, this is mainly due to me discovering the Igers Birmingham crew about 2 years ago. I do not really have a favourite type of photography as I like to try different things, though I do have 4 lovely grandkids, so they are photographed on a regular basis.
My exhibition photograph was taken by mistake actually, I was wandering around Longbridge looking for a heron that is resident there, I looked around and saw the contrast of light and texture of the college.
Being part of the IGers Birmingham team has allowed me to improve (well I think it has LOL) my skills as a hobby photographer. They are a great set of people and I have met some now good life long friends from within the IGers community.
This photo was taken at the Birmingham Pride Parade in 2017 and to me it sums up the colourful day.
Chris Burchill, @chrisburchill
I live in Harborne and work in Birmingham city centre as a solicitor. When I’m not trapped in the office, I enjoy getting out and about to take photos. I borrowed my Dad’s old DSLR for a trip to South East Asia in early 2016 and have been hooked on photography ever since. I became involved with the IGers Birmingham community shortly after, attending the City of Colours instameet in summer 2016. I’ll try throwing my hand at most types of photography, but most enjoy using my camera to document my travels. Also love a good sunset 🙂
My shot for the exhibition was taken during a trip to the Library of Birmingham earlier this year. It was a shot I’d had in my head for a while. I decided to edit in black and white to enhance the silhouettes of the three girls who are studying in front of the window.
Fraser and Beth (and now Martin, who has recently become a friendly face of IGers Birmingham) have been integral to forming an awesome community which I’m really glad to be a part of. Especially from a social perspective; is a great platform to meet a likeminded and fun (and sometimes borderline alcoholic) people. The community is also home to so many incredible photographers and, having only taken photography up fairly recently, I’ve been able to learn from and be inspired by a lot of different people.
Whilst it is by no means the best photo I’ve ever taken, I’m going to go with a long exposure of the ferris wheel which I took last Christmas. I’ve chosen this because it was the first time I’d ever shot in manual mode, and I was quite proud of finally addressing what I perceived to be a scary and complicated way of using my camera – turns out it wasn’t actually that difficult! Big thanks to Ross Jukes for the tips.
Dan Holden, @_d_h_p
I’ve had an on / off interest in photography for a long time using compacts and then iPhone, however at the start of 2017 I took the plunge and started shooting with a DSLR. After a short period of photographing anything and everything, I found myself increasingly drawn towards capturing the human element, shooting a mixture of cityscape, street photography and portraiture.
My exhibition shot featured in the exhibition is a street shot which captures a tiny glimpse of the array of creativity and culture which is present within Birmingham.
I’ve only been involved with the IGers Birmingham community since May 2017 but have quickly found it to be a very inclusive and diverse group. I feel I’ve learned a great deal by being a part of the community and made some really good friends as well.
This shot on my Instagram was the first portrait I took, and has lead to people becoming a larger part of the work I shoot. For these reasons, this photograph means a great deal to me.
David Mensah, @dm_photography123
I’m originally from Ghana and I moved to England 3 years and a couple of weeks ago. My interest in photography mainly came out from drawings/paintings I did of real landscapes to even portraits of friends. I used to take photos of what I was drawing or painting just to so I could use the grids which was an easy way for me to learn, draw and paint quicker. Most of the skills I have gained in the past came from self teachings and that I enjoy.
My favourite type of photography will be portraits and a bit of everything else as I tend to get creative in areas like landscapes and urban or architecture. The last course I studied in college was a Level 3 Graphic design. I now work full time at a trampoline park aside from jobs I do from my photography like taking photos at events.
My exhibition shot was to express and remind me of skills I learned from painting(colour), drawing to tell a story while capturing a creative idea. I enjoy being part of the community as I now have an opportunity to rebuild and make new friends who are also like minded.
I’m most proud of this not because of counts or number of follows I got from it but the idea of me using my phone screen as a way of making reflection.
Iain Swingler, @iainswinglerphotography
I attended my first instameet in January this year, so I’m relatively new to the IGers Birmingham community and instagram as a whole. I’ve been taking photos for almost 10 years. I’ll photograph just about anything, but my main interests are travel, landscape and architectural photography. I work as an MRI radiographer in the NHS, so photography is something I look forward to doing in my time between shifts.
My exhibition shot was taken during an instameet at BMAG. I love capturing wide angled shots of impressive architecture and this building was no exception.
The IGers Birmingham community allows you to interact with other photography enthusiasts, share ideas and creativity. I’ve made a lot of friends through regular instameets and we keep an eye on each other’s work through instagram. Being part of IGers Birmingham has allowed me to see my home city in a completely different way and appreciate what it has to offer in terms of photography.
This was one I took during a road trip of the USA my wife and I did in 2015. We spent the whole day at the canyon and as the sun started to go down, it created this dramatic ‘back-light’ effect. I got loads of great photos that day but this was my favourite.
Imran Ali Bashir, @imran_ab
I am a lifelong brummie and I currently reside in Kings Heath and Moseley. I work as a civil servant in the city centre and it’s usually the journey to and from work where I often take photos of city views, architecture and also try to capture moments and scenes that appeal to me. My interest in photography began through Instagram about 5 years ago and has been rising since. I have been involved with IGers Birmingham for a while, having had a few of my images selected as photo of the day and one of these images was displayed digitally in the first exhibition by IGers Birmingham. I went on my first instameet in January 2017 and have been on a few since then. They are always fun, creatively productive and a good way of meeting other photographers.
The location of my exhibition shot is a very familiar place to me – where my bus takes me to and where I catch it to go home. Finding a new perspective with a complimenting reflection on a scene so familiar, demonstrates to me that photography can thrive pretty much anywhere if you’re eyes have become accustomed to looking out.
Being part of the IGers Birmingham community has inspired me to be a lot more creative and has put me in touch with a community who are as enthusiastic about Birmingham and photography as I am.
James Furnival, @james_never_jim
John Bray, @johnbray69
I’ve only been involved with IGers Birmingham since August 2016. Little did I know that my first photowalk underneath Spaghetti Junction would really ignite my passion for photography and introduce me to many new and hugely talented friends.
Although I live in Shropshire, I work for the BBC in Birmingham. Through my photography I have come to love the Second City and share IGers Birmingham’s pride in Birmingham. It’s a great city to photograph – and inner city scenes are my favourite photographs that I shoot.
My shot in the exhibition was taken on the top of Fort Dunlop. It was a cold and damp evening with IGers Birmingham but I had a wonderful night and feel incredibly proud that my shot made it into the top 50.
What I love most about being part of the IGers Birmingham community is a sense of being part of a Birmingham movement that is simply so positive. Fraser, Beth and Martin are generous with their time and friendship, and the members of the group challenge me to become the best photographer I can be. Acknowledgement of your work by an IGers Birmingham member is something that I feel very proud of.
This is my instagram shot that I’m proud of.
Tomorrow morning we’ll be meeting the second half of the photographers from the digital display.