As you can tell, I continue processing some more images from Chante’s Birmingham photo session. After the palm trees (Part 1) and lavender (Part 2) of St Paul’s Square we moved down to the footbridge on the edge of Jewellery Quarter at the end of Ludgate Hill. This time we chose exposed bricks of a dilapidated wall as our scene set.
Of course, a brick wall carries a more recognisably ‘urban’ aesthetic – hip, edgy, grunge, youth culture, downtown – and yes, a darling of designers’ look books, it can evoke all these meanings and appeal to ‘urban’ or ‘street’ trends, particularly if decorated with colourful graffiti.
But our wall was not that kind – at least not to me. Warm and textural, made out of bricks uneven in shape and colour, perhaps never intended to be exposed, this wall spoke of transient glories and worn out feelings, of vintage looks and abandoned enterprises. It also had an overgrowth of dried sprigs and brunches, complete with cobwebs and snails underneath.
In her book ‘Naked City: The Death and Life of Authentic Urban Places’ Sharon Zukin writes that old brick expression of authenticity. To her the re-invention of derelict venues as a stage for cultural hubs or fashion shows ‘could not make a better connection between gritty origins and shiny new beginnings’.
And our brave model Chante wearing a trendy monochrome cropped T-shirt and a short black fake fur coat is framed by a slightly cavernous brick niche. All attention is on her, and the irregularities and shadows cast by the brick structure add visual interest. Her direction is to use the space as much as possible, to live in it.
At the end of this segment of our photo session we moved to the area where the brick was still covered with light plaster or paint and I made a couple of high-key headshots through the dry sprigs.
I’ll come back in a couple of day with the final installments of Chante’s pics from the shoot.