This year, in the true spirit of Christmas, we’re doing the Miniclick Photobook Advent Calendar where we’ll look at a different photobook, newspaper, magazine or ‘zine we like by someone we’ve worked with in the last 12 months, right up until Christmas Day.
Day 7 – December 7th
Like many people we’d been following Niall’s journey around the UK, taking portraits of locals as he went, via his excellent tumblr and twitter feed. Back in April he came along to our afternoon of talks at the Bluecoat in Liverpool as part of our work for the city’s International Photography Festival, Look13. He went way past the ten minute limit we’d given him to talk about his Crossing Paths project, but we didn’t mind too much as it was a great introduction to a huge, all encompassing project.
“In early 2011, I began the Crossing Paths project, taking portraits of people I met as I travelled across Britain. In the three years since, I have photographed more than 800 people, travelled over 50,000 miles and stopped at more than 120 towns right across England, Scotland and Wales.”
The first thing that strikes you about the project, and the book that’s come from it, is the sheer scale of it. 50,000 miles and over 800 different people make up this extensive documentation of the UK in 2011 / 2012 / 2013. The portraits initially appear simple (the vast majority are full length, in the street) but then you start to look at more and more and realise Niall’s fantastic eye for colour. I wonder how far he took each subject to find a backdrop that matched their outfit so well? This is what makes this series, and the book, stand out from other street style portraits for me – the scale of it, and the perfect matching of the backgrounds.
Right now, the book is a fascinating documentation, but I imagine in 10, 20 or 30 years it’ll take on even more significance, akin to Daniel Meadows work of the 1970’s, as it becomes a historic reference piece.
The layout of the book is simple – images are afforded a page to themselves and have accompanying captions of the date and location. For each city or town, Niall introduces us with a short description of when he went there and a story on the location. This provides just enough of his own words to elevate the series event further and make it a very personal body of work – very much his exploration. The map at the back (and abstracted on the cover) demonstrates again the scale of it all. In short, we love it.
The hardback book, published be Hey LIttle Heroes (272 pages with 148 images / limited to 500 copies), costs £22.50 and is available here.