Elland – unvarnished

As photographers we tend to try to make our images as appealing as possible on the whole, especially those of us with a leaning towards the pictorial. Let’s face it unless the images are part of a documentary-style story who wants to see the crummy face of town? I guess many of us therefore approach places with a “picture-postcard” mentality, looking for the attractive, quirky or quaint side of town.

Whilst I am at heart a pictorial photographer I have always been drawn to the less-glamourous face of the towns and places I live and work in. I’ve even been known to seek out the grimier side of town when on holiday or visiting somewhere new.

(c) Dave Whenham
Neglected and unloved – ten feet from some new flats

As I perambulated around the edges of Elland today (“Edgelands” – I’ll come back to that in another post) I was musing on how run-down the town is and initially started to wonder how I’d photograph it to attract visitors, say for a tourist information website. But then I thought, how much more interesting to document it as it really is. The plain, unvarnished truth rather than the glossy, beautified fiction of a tourist guide. In truth, I have lots of both types of these images already on my hard drive, particularly the less picturesque; the one above was taken two days ago for example. Thus was born “Elland – Unvarnished”.

Over time I aim to collect these together in a book format but that is to fast-forward to the end of the project. For now I’m going to make a conscious effort to document all of the corners of the town and share them here. I walk around the town a lot and always carry a camera, this will encourage me to walk untrodden streets as well as my familiar thoroughfares.

© Dave Whenham
What lies beyond?

Today’s pictures (above and below) all have green as the theme. This was not a conscious decision whilst taking them but rather it struck me when I got home and sat down to write this post.

© Dave Whenham
Symphony in green
© Dave Whenham
Fire exit?

The edges of the town show the effect of the decline in industry, particularly textiles and allied trades, that has caused Elland to become run down over the decades since textiles ceased to be King in this part of the country. Surprisingly, behind some of these crumbling and dilapidated walls business does go on, albeit in far less skilled trades and far less grand surroundings.

Boarded up – a common sight around the edges of the town in particular

From sunsets to baby’s first steps and from the commonplace to the spectacular, from family portraits to macro studies of flowers and from wildlife to architecture, all are subjects I am happy to tackle.  For me photography is about documenting every aspect of our lives and surroundings.  That is why I will just as happily photograph urban decay and neglect as the sunrise over a picturesque Scottish loch. Both have their places in my work and in all honesty one of them is slightly more accessible than the other!