Street Fight?

Posted on July 6, 2017 by Andy Thorpe under Things

My mattress project officially stopped with the creation of the photobook, but I came across this scene on my way to work on Wellesley Road in Smethwick a few days ago (a fertile hunting ground for images of dumped mattresses).  It was a heavy situation in which I felt I couldn’t really intervene!

From the angle shown below, things appeared to be quite innocent. Apparently just another couple of illegally dumped mattresses.

How do they sleep?

Posted on May 18, 2017 by Andy Thorpe under Things

This very inspiring photo of a mattress containing few visual clues about context, apart from the fact that it’s leaning against a wall, is from the back of my latest photo book “How do they sleep? A spectrum of mattress disposal options”.  The book is available on Blurb either as hard copy or pdf and the individual images are available in the “Projects” section of my website.

The “mattress” projects has been threatening to see the light of day for a while but, just when I thought I could draw a line under it in order to avoid repetition, a different approach to the disposal of these unwieldy items was witnessed.  The biggest problem relating to dumped mattresses is that they can cause an obstruction for days/weeks at a time, but the approach below seems to result in almost instant collection by scrap metal collectors who prowl the streets.

This image might also be useful for my ongoing “Car Trouble” project!

Audience Participation

Posted on February 9, 2017 by Andy Thorpe under People

The above sequence of someone clapping along to an acoustic performance by Mike Peters was taken at this year’s Gathering, the 25th anniversary of this annual event.  I’ve named the sequence “Audience Participation” because it refers to a member of the audience adding a physical movement or sound (through clapping) to the performance.  On reflection though, perhaps the still and silent members of the audience also add something to the performance because the performer will feel the tension associated with needing to entertain and/or perform the music as flawlessly as possible in front of them (I know I have when performing live music).  The audience by their very presence are therefore influencing how the performance is being delivered.  Anyway (!), I just enjoyed the songs being played and was quite happy to have a diminshed view of the performer during the bits when the person in front of me was clapping.  Of course it might’ve been a different matter had they been sitting on someone’s shoulders right in front of me!

By the way, the above images were captured on my Fuji XM-1 and 27mm lens, which is proving to be my main camera/lens combination (I have an XT-10 too).  The “focus peaking” option was used to help with manual focusing on the performer, otherwise the autofocus system would’ve tried locking onto the clapping hands. I’m eventually going to write something about my adoption of the Fuji X system in preference to my now sold DSLR kit….once I’ve recovered from the shock of how my photography life has vastly improved due to the change!

Graffitext – Postscript

Posted on February 4, 2017 by Andy Thorpe under Uncategorized

Well, here’s a further postscript to another one of the stories from my journeys to work. Originally, the idea was to simply post the photo of the painted-out graffiti with the dumped mattress next to the wall, which suggested to me that the search for the man’s “princess” and/or the rekindling of their relationship had not gone well. A few days later however, more graffiti had appeared, confirming that indeed things had not gone well. “Princess” has either not made contact or, after meeting, decided not to remain involved with the man I photographed in the post here.

I should say that I have a wealth of other photos of dumped mattresses but with nowhere near the same amount of context as the one in the photo above; just the usual, “I don’t want the mattress anymore and I can’t be bothered ringing the council so I’ll just dump it in the street and hope for the best.” The collection of photos depicting a range of such dumped mattresses will appear on this blog soon! I’ve heard that some people take photos of nice uplifting landscapes….

Flat 90A – Postscript

Posted on by Andy Thorpe under Uncategorized

I’ve been meaning to post this for a while but lack of time etc etc…. Anyway, here’s the resolution to the graffiti style information provided on the walls of Flat 90A; it’s been painted over. Nice job. I suppose it at least matches the car that’s normally parked outside the flat. The original post with the graffiti in all its glory can be found here.


Posted on August 18, 2016 by Andy Thorpe under People

Smethwick Wall Text -2

I’m not sure where to start with this posting.  By way of some background, these photos were taken on one of my journeys to work, during the course of which I often stop to photograph things, people or events that are interesting to me.  This situation and others seem to be in the process of creating a book with the working title “Short Stories from My Journeys to Work”.  (A second volume might consider the return journey home, but I’m usually in too much of a hurry to stop despite using a bicycle which makes it easier to do so.)

Anyway, recently I spotted new graffiti on a wall which was distinct from the norm in that it was phrased as a message to a particular person or “princess”, the likes of which are quite common in Smethwick! In itself it makes an interesting subject, but I came away from the scene with a lot more, as the photos below suggest.

Smethwick Wall Text -1

Smethwick Wall Text -3

Smethwick Wall Text -4

Smethwick Wall Text -5

In trying to simply record the scene (first photo) I waited until the chap in the top right of the photo was facing away from me because I didn’t want to draw any attention to myself, enhanced by use of a Fuji X-A1 at waist level using the tilting screen (something I’ve been doing for years since my Nikon 995 days). I took a chance to take another when he was half way across the drive-way; he was pacing backwards and forwards across the drive for some reason.

Ah, too late, I’d stayed too long and after one of his journeys across the driveway he started to make his way towards me, so very cowardly and not wanting a confrontation about invading privacy etc, I turned to face the road.  Then he asked, in a friendly manner, if I was a journalist so I explained about the interesting graffiti. This sparked a longer conversation.

The chap (I never found out his name) explained that he’d been away in prison for a while and that he was trying to reconnect with his girlfriend (princess) who apparently still lived in the area but at an address unknown to him because members of her family had been trying to keep her away from him.  Quite a sad and moving story.  I thought it was interesting that he was holding a mobile phone, his house had a satellite dish and his car was parked on the road outside it (see portraits above), and yet inspite of having access to such communication technology he had resorted to using a brush and paint to find his girlfriend.  He also mentioned being quite religious and was relying on his faith to see a happy conclusion to the situation.  He was happy for me to photograph him, perhaps thinking it would somehow help in his quest.

In presenting the series of photos I took, I’m also trying to illustrate the process from me being a cowardly street photographer to having the confidence to find out more about the situation, at least on this occasion.  The blurry portrait of him (I’m still getting used to the focusing system on the Fuji!) shows the chap in full flow telling his story, so the barriers had well and truly come down.

As a postscript to the story, I saw him pacing on the driveway for another couple of days or talking to people on the street, but I wasn’t able to catch his attention as I rode past on my bike to just wave hello or to get an update.  I haven’t seen him since so perhaps there’s been a happy ending.


Posted on May 6, 2016 by Andy Thorpe under Uncategorized

Lichfield 160501-3

Lichfield 160501-4

That’s right, I’ve missed out “steady” in the title of this posting.  I’m not sure how it’s possible photograph “steady” when “ready” and “steady” would seem to be visually very similar.

More photos from the day, including photos of runners recovering can be viewed here.

Flat 90A

Posted on March 12, 2016 by Andy Thorpe under Places

Flat 90A 3

This is one of my many photo projects that results from my journeys to work.  I use a bicycle so it’s easy to stop and take some pictures if there’s sufficient inspiration.

The information provided to ensure that Flat 90A in this part of Oldbury can easily be found is remarkable and not the type of thing I’ve come across before.  It would be good to see if other people can offer-up some similar examples of places that seem to require a high level of informal advertising to avoid any locational confusion.

It’s surprising that the local authority’s “Section 215” officers haven’t required the land owner to remove these untidy and verging on sarca(r)stic “notices” because I’m not sure the other houses on the street enjoy living near such brutalism.  (As an aside, local authorities can also create brutalist environments despite being the custodians of urban design standards.)

Interestingly, as shown in the photos (see webpage in Projects for the full set), there are usually cars parked here despite the spray painted appeals/”orders” so the cars are obviously associated with Flat 90A. There are no official car parking restrictions, which is a shame because then there might be enough space for passers-by to use the pavement (official term: footway).  What wonderful neighbours the people at Flat 90A are!  Their contribution to the locality can only improve.

Teacher and Pupil

Posted on March 1, 2016 by Andy Thorpe under Uncategorized



It’s always nice to see someone discovering the joy of music.  Eira and Grandma.

These two photos can be viewed in the Musicians section of the website (Why not?) and a few more can be seen in the Friends and Family section.

One Man Band – part 2

Posted on February 3, 2016 by Andy Thorpe under People

Watching Crowd - colour

I thought I was being really attentive and watching the show, but it turns out that I went a bit mad and took lots of photos of Mike’s solo set!  Here are some more photos to add to the last posting…and there others too that still need a bit of Lightroom-ing.  There’s actually enough for a small photobook.

One Guitar

One Guitar - colour


Concentration - colour

…or black and white?

Concentration - b&w

Mike and mics

Mike at Mic 2 - b&w

Call to arms

Call to Arms - colour

Backstage activities

Backstage - b&w

Hands held up high

Call to Arms 2 - b&w