Brighton is one of Britain’s best-loved holiday spots; a getaway for thousands every time the British sun peeks from behind the clouds.
Come here on a sunny Saturday and it’s chock-full from the moment you get off the train, the crowds soaking up the sun from any spare patch of the pebbly beach, ice-cream vans lurking at every corner, and the West Pier sitting forlornly like the skeleton of some crashed steampunk spaceship.
It’s a city with a rich photographic history too, stretching all the way back to Victorian times. Its parade of imposing hotels and strip of pebbly pleasure beach have featured in thousands of historic photos (check out one such archive here). Back when the average working family couldn’t afford the luxury of a camera, ‘walking photographers’ took pics for holidaymakers – and in the 60s press photographers turned up in the hope of capturing the Mods vs Rockers fisticuffs which so shocked respectable Britain.
Nowadays, Brighton – just over an hour away from London by train – is something of a hotspot for film photography. Two of the UK’s leading lights of Lomography – LomoKev and Fotobes – are based in Brighton, with LomoKev running the brilliant Hot Shots photo course for aspiring Lomo legends.
Brighton is a perfect place to practice your street photography skills, as its never short of people (locals or visitors alike) and the winding streets of the boutique-and-brasserie-filled Lanes are a perfect setting. A brief look through Kev and Toby’s Flickr accounts show you what a photogenic backdrop Brighton can be.
I’ve visited Brighton a number of times, most recently in February when I went down to take pics of Calexico during soundcheck (more on that later). The late winter might not show Brighton at its sunny best, but it’s a great time for switching to black and white.
I plan a visit very soon when Brighton brightens (ahem) to do some Lomo xpro shooting, but black and white brings out another side to Brighton, a world away from the heat and hustle and bustle, to that peculiarly melancholy that can only come on a bleak day by the British seaside.