Manchester (UK) – The Grit, Glamour & Tattoos . . .

GOVERNMENT HEALTH WARNING – This is going to be a long post. 🙂

. . . If the truth be known, I’ve never felt as mentally and physically exhausted after a day’s Street Photography as I did just last weekend in Manchester. Mind you, I probably didn’t do myself any favours by spending the previous day shooting on the streets of Chester and on both occasions wearing what are without doubt the most uncomfortable pair of boots I’ve ever owned. 🙂

old man rave dancing in manchester whilst young lad cheers him on street photography uk photographer kevin shelley prints for sale leica m2 jupiter 8 50 f2

The plan was simple. Spend the first day in Manchester shooting the Leica M2 in the morning and the Fuji X-E1 in the afternoon. Then repeat the same in Chester the following day. Predictably though and despite this being our summer time AND the weatherman promising sunshine, it was raining with that all too familiar British drizzle. Good job I chose to shoot the M2 first as I wouldn’t trust a fully electronic camera in the wet.

two young naval cadets walk in manchester street photography uk photographer kevin shelley prints for sale leica m2 jupiter 50 f2

What immediately struck me whilst walking out of Manchester Piccadilly Station was that despite the continual shower, the streets were VERY busy. For sure, at one point I could have sworn the pavement disappeared. Trying to pick out interesting characters in this crowded and wet environment was going to be a challenge.

the piccadily rats play in manchester outside jessops street photography uk photographer kevin shelley prints for sale leica m2 jupiter 50 f2

In this situation it was helpful to have a camera that didn’t mind getting it’s ‘feet’ wet and also be able to carry it between shots under the shoulder bag at my side for protection. Strangely though, such was the excellent time I was already having taking pictures, the rain became a minor irritation.

Thankfully after an hour or so, the rain stopped and I could now carry the camera ‘out front’ and partially raised in my usual position, ready to shoot. Also as a result of the dryer weather, more folk appeared and I could now move more freely amongst the flowing crowds.

well proportioned woman in tight dress and black shoes manchester street photography uk photographer kevin shelley prints for sale leica m2 jupiter 50 f2

By now I’d spent some time meandering the main High Street and decided to take a look around the surrounding roads and avenues. It’s amazing how the appearance of buildings and shops can change in the distance of just one block.

manchester bookbuyers shop street photography uk photographer kevin shelley prints for sale leica m2 jupiter 50 f2

Throughout my wonderings I was pleased to see that ‘Street Art’ was not only widespread but positively encouraged, adding a much needed burst of color and culture to some of the less prosperous areas.

graffiti skeleton riding bike manchester street photography uk photographer kevin shelley prints for sale leica m2 jupiter 50 f2

Yes, despite massive investment over recent years, there are still huge areas of the city that receive little to no attention.

jons old records shop manchester street photography uk photographer kevin shelley prints for sale leica m2 jupiter 50 f2

The defining line between the ‘haves and have nots’ is clear to be seen, though seeming to co-exist at the same time.

beggar sits by cash machines manchester street photography uk photographer kevin shelley prints for sale leica m2 jupiter 50 f2

As a country boy, the sight of many differing cultures, religions and races living together in one area is at once both alien and a breath of fresh air for me. In the countryside Multiculturalism just doesn’t exist and is one of the ‘forces’ that drives me to visit towns and cities.

two people ignore each other on a bench in manchester street photography uk photographer kevin shelley prints for sale leica m2 jupiter 50 f2

City life never ceases to throw up the kind of surprises you wouldn’t find down a country lane. 🙂

young men dressed in zebra heads manchester street photography uk photographer kevin shelley prints for sale leica m2 jupiter 50 f2

Of course the other thing you won’t find in the countryside are coffee shops and that’s where I headed as it was time to rest, count the blisters on my feet and switch cameras to the X-E1 with XF35 lens.

hp sauce t shirt manchester street photography uk photographer kevin shelley prints for sale leica m2 jupiter 50 f2

Half an hour later (and slightly less sore), the sun had got it’s hat on and the ground was drying. As I walked out of the cafe, this guy strolled by sporting a full head of tattoos. However, the young lady in the window didn’t seem to approve?

man with tattooed head manchester street photography uk photographer kevin shelley prints for sale fuji x-e1 xf35

Manchester was beginning to come to life, with street sellers peddling all manner of goods, including ‘little people’.

man selling miniature dancing bart simpson manchester street photography uk photographer kevin shelley prints for sale fuji x-e1 xf35

With the sheer number of folk coming from all directions, it’s a constant battle to keep from bumping into one another. It helps to have the patience of a saint.

blonde man and woman pass each other on the manchester street photography uk photographer kevin shelley prints for sale fuji x-e1 xf35

Also apparent was the modern fascination with tattoos. Whilst I’ve never fancied the idea of being permanently scarred for life, I do admire the artwork itself.

man in shorts and tattooes manchester street photography uk photographer kevin shelley prints for sale fuji x-e1 xf35

If you look close enough, there are many who wear one as a piece of jewellery, like a modern day ankle bracelet.

passing woman looks dissaprovingly at woman in short skirt manchester street photography uk photographer kevin shelley prints for sale fuji x-e1 xf35

Now we’ve arrived at that point in the blog where there are many more pictures to show but I’ve run out of things to say. 🙂 So here are the remaining pictures, with a few words of what I like about each one.

This picture makes me think of an ‘eternal triangle’. The guy on the bike is in focus and the main element of the picture. He is looking at the young lady who’s just entered shot. She is in turn looking at me and I’m looking at the guy on the bike and . . .

man on bike looks at woman looks at camera manchester street photography uk photographer kevin shelley prints for sale fuji x-e1 xf35

At first glance the young lady on the left is destitute and the other lady is listening to her plight. In fact, they are two people out shopping.

two shoppers become homeless and listener manchester street photography uk photographer kevin shelley prints for sale fuji x-e1 xf35

I’ve always liked pictures of old alleys full of various bric-a-brac, or as the sign says “This & That”.

this and that manchester alley street photography uk photographer kevin shelley prints for sale fuji x-e1 xf35

A rare shot of Clark Kent letting his ‘cover’ slip.

young clarke kent superman lets his cover slip manchester street photography uk photographer kevin shelley prints for sale fuji x-e1 xf35

Just my tribute to the late, great Frank Sidebottom. R.I.P.

frank sidebottom artwork manchester street photography uk photographer kevin shelley prints for sale fuji x-e1 xf35

A close-up side profile of three distinct faces, weathered with the passage of life, experiences and time, as they enjoy the spectacle of a ‘levitating monk’.

side profile of three older faces manchester street photography uk photographer kevin shelley prints for sale fuji x-e1 xf35

Two pictures together here. The sun eventually took control of the day and later on it became pleasantly warm. For some it was bliss . . .

woman enjoys sunshine on concrete manchester street photography uk photographer kevin shelley prints for sale fuji x-e1 xf35

. . . And for others, it was time to relax in the shade.

two young guys cool off in shade manchester street photography uk photographer kevin shelley prints for sale fuji x-e1 xf35

I always keep an eye out for the more ecentrically dressed individuals and this ‘old gentlemans’ style contrasted so well alongside his more modestly dressed (I assume) son.

father wearing straw hat and son manchester street photography uk photographer kevin shelley prints for sale fuji x-e1 xf35

Another two pictures that go together. This one was taken in a side street that runs next to the main High Street. I still can’t believe this is happening so close to a prosperous shopping area with many upmarket establishments raking in the cash. 😦

homeless man in alleyway behind high street manchester street photography uk photographer kevin shelley prints for sale fuji x-e1 xf35

And that it actually happens in the more affluent areas as well. For me it is a stark reminder that for many, this situation is just 3 or 4 months ‘missed paychecks’ away.

the haves and have nots manchester street photography uk photographer kevin shelley prints for sale fuji x-e1 xf35

Another favorite genre of mine, ‘Old Shops’ and taken not far from the previous two photos.

old shop 56 56 manchester street photography uk photographer kevin shelley prints for sale fuji x-e1 xf35

Tattoos again and it was the artwork I was interested in, then this guy appeared at the door. Click !!!

tattitude manchester street photography uk photographer kevin shelley prints for sale fuji x-e1 xf35

Talking of Tattoos. If you’d like to get one this place could be just the ticket . . . and then the business next door will remove it for you. 😀

tattoo's and tattoo removal manchester street photography uk photographer kevin shelley prints for sale fuji x-e1 xf35

And finally . . . I like the symmetry of the two outer pensioners looking in opposite directions and the centre one appearing as though she is about to ask a question. Uhmmm . . .

pensioners wait to cross road manchester street photography uk photographer kevin shelley prints for sale fuji x-e1 xf35

Manchester was great. Within a radius of some two miles I was able to capture a ‘taster’ of what the city is about. The genre of Street Photography for me isn’t just about capturing close-up shots of people in candid situations. Rather, it is always my intention to show their environments and the lives they lead.

There is far more to discover and photograph in Manchester, but to do so will require many more visits.

Next time though I’ll be sure to take a more comfortable pair of shoes. 🙂

Author: Kevin Shelley

Street Photography. eBooks. Blog. Shoots and reviews cameras. Develops film. Writes novelesque articles.

5 thoughts on “Manchester (UK) – The Grit, Glamour & Tattoos . . .”

  1. Kevin they are just gob smacking, once again you have come up with another bunch of great photos and story to match, and yes it is hard to believe in this day and age that we still have people living on hard times and on the streets.It’s good that you’re using both cameras in tandem and I do like the results from the M2 the images just look that bit more “well film like” if you know what I mean, the time we spend trying to make our digital files to look more like film, so why don’t we just shoot film end of story.Well done keep them coming….cheers Mick.

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  2. Great shots Kevin. I recognise some of the locations and even the odd face or two as I often go shooting in Manchester myself.

    Paul

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  3. Great photographs Kevin. Great to see the sights (and characters) of my home city through a visitors eyes/lens. I’m glad you enjoyed the place. I have been a street photographer in Manchester, Salford and the North West for years and I agree that MCR city centre is BUSY! Much more so than it ever used to be. Such a compact city centre surrounded by several million people always makes for a successful days work.
    I have recently discovered your blog and I am enjoying it a lot. Thank you.

    Ed Peacock

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    1. Hello Ed,

      Thank you for your comments.

      It’s always a great compliment to hear a ‘natives’ opinions of my photographs of their home town. I hope they are a fair representation?

      Hoping to get back to Manchester sometime soon and planning on meeting up with a few street photographers then. It would be on a Saturday or Sunday, so maybe see you there if convenient?

      Next destination though is the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August.

      Cheers,

      Kevin

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