The carousel that made people happy

The carousel that made people happy

Once upon a time there was an amusement park on the edge of a beautiful lake where people came to be happy. They arrived from far and wide to ride the roller coaster and fly in the space rockets. They loved getting scared in the Laff in the Dark, laughing with Laffing Beulah and having their fortune read by the gypsy Esmeralda.

At the very centre of the park the best of all the rides was a carousel of beautiful horses that rode round and round to the sound of the Wurlitzer organ. The horses wore flowers and feathers and armour, their manes flew and their nostrils flared as they pranced and jumped.

The man who owned the park had a daughter. This little girl loved being at the park and going on the rides that made people happy. Most of all she loved the carousel. Every day she visited her favourite horse, the one with the golden rosette and flowers on her blue harness, and rode her to the sound of the organ music.

After many years the park closed its gates and the rides that made people happy were shut down. All except the carousel, which was placed in a city park where it continued to be ridden and to make people happy.

Many, many years later, when the little girl had become an old woman, her daughter took her to see the carousel and ride on her favourite horse. The carousel did its job once more and made them both very happy.

My mother’s family owned Meyers Lake Park in Canton, Ohio, for over 50 years. When the park closed in 1974, the historic Stein and Goldstein carousel was moved to Bushnell Park in Hartford, Connecticut, where it continues to be ridden by generations of children and adults. My mother had not seen the carousel for 40 years when we went to visit it last week. You can see more photos of this beautiful carousel here and find more information about Bushnell Park here.

Do you know what gig rowing is?

Do you know what gig rowing is?

This week’s photo is a small glimpse into the world of gig rowing, a sport I have only recently discovered. Pilot gigs originated in Cornwall in the 18th century as shore-based lifeboats. Manned by six rowers and a coxswain, they are rowed and raced along the British coast and further afield, with the number of clubs totaling less than 100 worldwide. The new Lewes gig club is now a member of this small group.

I joined only a few weeks ago but am already a devotee. We row on a small local lake, but also on the tidal River Ouse that flows through Lewes and on the open sea. A noticeable element of the club is the strong sense of working together, both on the water and on shore. A gig can’t move forward unless the crew arecompletely in sync. This sense of teamwork is mirrored in the camaraderie and dedication of the members. You can find more photos here to see what gig rowing is all about.

300 years of history in one blacksmith shop

300 years of history in one blacksmith shop

I have been itching to photograph the Lewes Forge for years now, ever since I spotted it tucked away in a hidden corner off one of the most traffic-filled streets in town. By the time I got around to it, Ben Autie, the blacksmith, was ill and unable to work. Two years later and Ben is back and the forge is up and running full time again so I arranged a visit.

It was extraordinary to walk through a quiet courtyard and into a building that has been a blacksmithing site for 300 years. The main room has high ceilings and old whitewashed walls and is filled with equipment. Three huge bellows, now redundant, hang high up above the two forges. A large manual drill dating from the 18th century sits at the back of the room.

Two walls are covered with horseshoes, from when Lewes was a town with a racecourse and horses would line up on the road outside, waiting to be shod. Photographs of the former blacksmiths who worked here line one wall. And many dozens of pliers and hammers of varying shapes and sizes hang in convenient places around the room.

The amazing thing is that, although this space is filled with history, it is a living, working forge. Ben is here five days a week, busy with sculptures, weathervanes, furniture and anything else he is commissioned to make out of iron. It is definitely not a museum, it is just a business with a lot of history. You can see the rest of the photos here. You can find more of my photographs of people at work here.

It was a banger of a night

It was a banger of a night

So, the Lewes Bonfire celebrations have come and gone for another year. It was a warm, dry night and the town was buzzing with spectators lining the High Street, lots of fire everywhere and costumed, torch-bearing people marching through the centre. As a photographer, it is a rewarding, but very challenging, subject matter, what with the extremes of light and dark, the continuous movement of the procession and the jostle of the crowds. Then there are the bangers. They are loud, they are very bright, and they hurt if they hit you. (I admit to being a bit scared of them).

Which leads me to my photo of the week of a string of Chinese firecrackers being let off. I am pleased and just a little surprised by it. First of all, the change in light is obviously very sudden when something is exploding, making it difficult to meter for, but also I know I was probably hiding behind other bystanders when I took it. In addition, I am amazed that my camera was able to record something so extreme. What I like most about it, though, is that it captures a moment in time that the eyes cannot see in real life, which is one of the joys of photography. You can find more of my Lewes Bonfire photographs here.

Lewes Bonfire is on its way

It’s Bonfire time of year again

Lewes Bonfire celebrations are just around the corner. The largest Guy Fawkes event in the country is an extremely loud, colourful and slightly anarchic spectacle that takes over the town for one night a year. As a photographer, I find it hard to resist the pull and the challenge of trying to capture the drama with my camera.

I am particularly fond of this shot from last year. I like the sense of intimacy of it. We share the experience of the smuggler who holds up a bandana in protection against the all-pervading smoke, silhouetted by the flare of the exploding bangers. The flames in the barrel are echoed by the burning torches being carried into the distance.

The term smuggler refers to the people who wear the stripy jumpers. Sussex has 28 bonfire societies, seven of them in Lewes, and each one has its own colour combination. You can find more of my Lewes Bonfire photographs here.

If you are in Lewes on Saturday the 10th November, please join me at the Paddock Arts Studios (3 pm at Paddock Lane, BN7 1TW). I will be speaking about my project documenting the transition of the old industrial Harvey’s Depot into a state-of-the-art cinema.

If you have a building project, workplace or event that you are thinking of photographing, please get in touch. I deliver photographs that delve deeper than showing just the surface of things.

How to make focaccia

How to make focaccia

After showing you how to pour concrete in my last newsletter, my lessons continue with Genovese focaccia, made the authentic way at Caccia & Tails, our new Italian deli in Lewes. Elisa, the owner, stretched the dough until it was translucent and draping like an opulent piece of fabric. This was a skilled process that I found fascinating to watch. Obviously my single photo cannot teach you the technique needed to try this at home but it may inspire you to ponder the craft of lovingly-made food.

More photographs from this shoot are here. Proof of my fascination with photographing workplaces can be found here. And this is where you can find a gallery of working portraits.

If you have a workplace, project or event that you are thinking of photographing, please get in touch. I deliver photographs that delve deeper than showing just the surface of things.

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