Thank you for reading my Photography Blog. Birmingham based photographer specialising in Urban Landscapes but available for all photography commissions. Ross Jukes is also a professional Automotive photographer, please see his other website for details - 

Ross Jukes is a professional freelance photographer and owns and all images / photos of Birmingham on this site. All images are available for purchase either as prints or stock and are also available to license the images for commercial use.

Modern Nostalgia: A Backwards approach to Photography

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I have been struggling with my photography lately. Call it ‘Photographers Block’ or maybe actual apathy but either way, something just hasn’t gripped me like it use to. Recently, I went out for an evening stroll, mainly just to clear my head but with the intent of grabbing a few photos. I found myself drawn to the same old things, dereliction, grime, dirt and basically anything on the more run-down side of life. As I stared at the old shop frontages, the run down streets and pictured how they would look with my heavy-handed edits, it suddenly dawned on me, I am a nostalgia whore… I pimp myself out to anything that has even a remote whiff of sentimentality.

This is nothing new, I’ve pretty much spent my whole ‘photography life’ trying to make my images look like they are from another time. In fact, Birmingham itself has a weird duality of personality between being this historic relic that should be preserved for future generations and every available derelict space being knocked down to make way for the ‘latest in modern living’. In fact, there are people out there so attached to the past that they simply must live in converted old factory units, as long as they come with all of the trappings of modern life - even I couldn’t resist that level of ‘authenticity’.

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However, having more than a subtle nod to the past seems to be the new craze in Photography, well not new, but certainly more prevalent than ever. I see images all over social media that could be plucked straight out of the back-catalogue of any 1970’s photographer worth their salt. Even more, I see people returning to shooting film to try to achieve that authentic feel, something than simply ‘can’t be recreated in Lightroom’ so instead they are returning to the darkroom. This got me thinking about why so many of us are so determined to add a feeling of Nostalgia to our images and why we would even waste thousands of pounds on modern equipment, only to apply filters to make the image quality, well, worse.

As I continued my walk, thinking deeper and deeper about why I am personally drawn to a whimsical sense of past, a thought crossed my mind and seemingly got stuck there and wouldn’t budge. Quite simply, maybe we just always associate the past as being better than the present. Now that may not ring true for everyone and it certainly isn’t intended to be so sweeping, but I do think that most people have a tendency to remember the past in a more favourable light. Music, food, sport, fashion.. everything was better when you were younger, right? Well the truth is, probably not… But that doesn’t mean that we don’t hark back to a time when our lives were less stressful and our fashion choices a little simpler.

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However, there is one important person that we are missing out and that is the viewer. Why do nostalgic images appeal to the non-photographer viewer? Well, from what I see it is simply that, we like old things because they remind us of a better, simpler time… a time pre-Brexit. I love the work of Fred Herzog, but have no attachment to 1960’s Canada. I’m constantly amazed by the work of Saul Leiter but have no reason to feel sentimental about New York nearly 70 years ago. Even Gregory Crewsdon and Todd Hido have their enigmatic ‘can’t really place a time on them’ style of images beguile me and they are working very much in the present!

So what does it all mean… Well, for me personally, I doubt I will be changing my style anytime soon, though the more I see the same style of images, the more I know I need to do something different. Whereas I hugely enjoy the work of many photographers that shoot with film, find beautifully nostalgic scenes or even just apply film grains to give their images more ‘feels’, I do think the nostalgia bubble will eventually burst. The main reason for this? Well you can only fake authenticity so far.

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However, these are just the ramblings of a photographer trying to cement a style and work out the ‘why’ - and I will continue to dream of living in my modern abandoned factory unit with just the right-level of ‘voice activated heating’ whilst looking at bare-brick walls with images of run down 1970’s American petrol stations in the desert… Maybe one day… What are your thoughts on this? Please leave a comment below.

Bullring & Grand Central After Dark - The Sequel!

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Back in May 2017, I was very kindly invited to visit the iconic shopping centre along with a great group of photographers, to explore the site after closing hours. It was a fantastic experience (read about it HERE) so when I was recently invited to do it again, I simply couldn’t say no! However, it wasn’t just the potential of plodding through the centre away from the hustle & bustle of the daytime that drew me, I also wanted to see how my ‘eye’ had changed and see how the photographs would differ from my original visit.

Things started out the same as last time as I was accompanied by some of Birmingham’s best photographers, which always makes me feel slightly out-of-place but soon after, the Bullring’s team made us feel right at home and gave us pretty much free rein of the store. However, this time we had access to a pretty much empty Grand Central as well! An opportunity that none of us could resist, so that’s where we started!

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I’ve never really appreciated the scale of Grand Central until seeing it pretty much empty. The huge voluminous atrium feels overwhelming with all of the daily commuters removed. Occasionally, a person would pass through the space and offer a stark contrast of scale, being dwarfed by the huge span of the Grand Central roof. However, it was the closed shops, restaurants and stands that really caught my eye. There is something almost eerie about a lifeless place that you are so use to being busy, it almost feels like being in a post-apocalyptic film, where you are the only survivor (along with a bunch photographers, a PR team and a security guard!).

After exploring the space for a little while, it was time to turn to photography and I was quickly drawn to the abstract reflections in the store fronts. Something about the colours drew me in and I started to experiment with abstraction, layering reflections and colours on top of vaguely familiar items, such as chairs and tables. All too soon, our time in Grand Central was over and we passed through LinkStreet and back to the main event, the Bullring.

In contrast to my previous visit, I was drawn more to the details this time around (though I took my fair share of ‘wide’ shots - an opportunity not to be missed!). The dimly lit store created pools of light and shadows from the stores that had left lights on - which immediately drew me to the areas of contrast. In particular I was drawn to silhouettes of the often over-looked plants and foliage in the centre. We descended through one side of the centre and made our way towards the ‘Selfridges’ side of the Bullring.

As we neared the end of our adventure and made our way back up to ‘street’ level, again it was the scale that really caught my attention, it’s all too easy to overlook the sheer scale of the Bullring. As we said our goodbyes and I made my way home, it was clear that once again it had been a fantastic opportunity, but I also found it interesting that this time around, I’d been more drawn to the details and abstraction - maybe a reflection on my own growth as a photographer - or more probably just an attempt not to go for the ‘typical’ kind of shots. Either way, it was a fun way to spend a few hours photographing a hugely popular area with all of it’s inhabitants removed!

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Thank you to The Bullring & Grand Central and thanks for putting up with me @veritymilligan, @alpha.brum, @ocuk and @frasermcgee

A Foggy Morning in Birmingham

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Nothing drags us photographers out of bed quicker than the chance of a bit of fog and mist. After a few busy days, I was completely ready for a lazy Sunday morning until I popped my head out of the window and saw, well, nothing…I quickly got ready and pretty much ran into town. Conditions were perfect and a bit of fog mixed with patches of light, always makes for interesting images.

I was very pleased to see plenty of the local photography community hoovering up images so keep an eye out for those. Here are a quick selection of some of mine of Birmingham drizzled in a pleasant layer of fog…

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What is the meaning of Photography?

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It’s that time of year when we all get a little bit reflective and look back at the year that has passed, but also look ahead to what is to come. I, like many others, have some big plans for next year but I kept coming back to the same thought that I felt like I’d lost my way a little. Somehow, I felt like I wasn’t even sure ‘why’ I was taking pictures. This got me thinking, what is the meaning of Photography?

the process or art of producing images of objects on sensitized surfaces by the chemical action of light or of other forms of radiant energy, as x-rays, gamma rays, or cosmic rays.

Now, in the most fundamental sense, photography is, as the definition states, simply capturing light in one form or another. However, anyone who has ever captured a beautiful sunset or the smile on the face of a loved one, knows that Photography is much more than that. You don’t even need to be particularly talented to take an image that means something to you, many of my favourite images were taken in the 80’s & 90’s on disposable 35mm cameras and the reason the images mean so much to me, they are of my Mom & Dad, who are no longer with us. That means that these images, with all of their technical imperfections are still incredibly valuable to me.

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So what does that mean for those of us that are lucky enough to either has Photography as a hobby or even a job, what does it mean then? Well, the truth is that it becomes a passion. It is something that you can’t go a day without, like food and drink. Many people will get differing things from the art form. For me, it started an an opportunity to explore my city, Birmingham. It was a great way to discover new areas that I wasn’t aware of. It also open the doors to a whole new social world of people with a shared passion. I was fortunate that Birmingham has a fantastic community of photographers who are incredibly supportive (and sociable!).

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In terms of Photography as career, when you are out shooting a muddy building site on a freezing December morning, it may seem like it would be easy to become disillusioned and just see Photography as a ‘job’. However, the pure satisfaction of creating an interesting image from the the bleak surroundings is still incredibly rewarding. Having a skill and being able to achieve something where others may struggle is a hugely satisfying thing.

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On the other hand, there is social media, where ‘likes’, ‘hearts’ & retweets are strewn around like nobodies business. We all find a secret little thrill when we hear the ‘ping’ of the latest notification and our eyes dash to the vivid red of that latest ‘heart’ on our images as the endorphins start to race around our bodies. Nobody else feels like this? OK, well I may need to see a Doctor!

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So what is the meaning of Photography? For me, it is simply creating something meaningful, something that brings joy to others or simply gives you the gratification of knowing that you have a skill and can harness it to your own advantage. This is what I feel I may have lost sight of over the last twelve months as I went through a bit of ‘creators block’. I now feel re-energised and ready to go into 2019 and focus on creating images that bring me satisfaction and maybe, other people might enjoy them too. We will see.

Beauty in the 'Beast'...


As the weather continues to cause havoc across the country, it's getting to that point where it stops being fun and starts getting serious. Sub-zero temperatures and treacherous conditions put those that are most vulnerable in real danger and make even simple journeys a nightmare. However, if there is anything that can be taken away from a terrible situation, it's that it makes the everyday scenes that we've all become accustomed to seem surreal. 


This week, I have been wiped out by Flu! Not just any Flu, not even 'Man Flu', but some kind of 'I want to make every single cell in your body pay for it' Flu that even had Laura conceding that I might actually be ill. So as much as I would love to have been out with my camera, I've just not been able to.


That was until late Thursday night, where I had to run out for an emergency. I wrapped up as warm as I could, checked the weather "Feels like minus 12" took a brave pill (Lemsip) and head out. Now obviously, I was going to take my camera with me. Even in my sickly state, I wouldn't dare leave the house without it! I stumbled my way through town, grabbing quick images as I went.


The images that I did get were far from perfect. There is something about being laced with Flu in bitterly cold conditions that makes you forget the 'rule of thirds' or to check whether shots are even in focus. However, when I did check the images, I really liked the 'soft' feel to them and put this down as a 'happy little accident' as a great man used to say. The snow is certainly a nightmare and I genuinely feel for those vulnerable people that this kind of weather can really threaten. However, it's also nice to remember that even in the worst of it, you can still find little glimmers of beauty. 


12 Views of Birmingham that will never be the same!

Birmingham is changing. Whether you are a fan of the waves of new development happening across the city, one thing for sure is that it doesn't show any signs of slowing up. There is always huge disruption whenever another part of the city is, closed down, blocked off and peoples lives re-routed. However, the financial benefits and the growing positivity around Birmingham is a testament to the investment that is being made in the city.

However, one thing that will change are some of our favourite views. Many will improve, some will be questioned and all will never be the same again. In years to come, we will look back at many of these images and talk about 'how things use to be'. It's strange to think that by then, we will have grown acustomed to the 'new' views and undoubtedly be surround by even more new developements and growth in our amazing city. 


1) Boulton, Watt & Murdoch

The 'Three Wise Men', the 'Golden Boys', the 'Carpet Salesmen' - Whatever you refer to the statue as it's no longer where you would expect to find it. The lads have been uprooted as part of the Centenary Square development. Even the backdrop will change as a new building is already in development on the very spot where these influential men once stood. I wonder if they would approve of the changes happening in the city? 


2) Three Snowhill

You can see this development from pretty much anywhere in the city, it really does dominate the skyline. The huge commercial development (the biggest in Europe I believe!) is set to completely change the landscape of the heart of Birmingham's financial district and the area around Snowhill. The sheer scale of this building is the most impressive thing and is best viewed from Great Hampton Street.


3) Paradise Forum

Despite the ironic name, Paradise Forum always divided opinion. Many will miss the Brutalist architecture that dominated the area (myself included) and I'm sure many more would quite happily of bulldozed the place down themselves! Love it or hate it, the old has made way for the new and the modern glazed building are well and truly flying up. I'm sure we will all grow use to the new amenities but a huge piece of Birmingham's heritage has changed forever. 


4) Centenary Square

Lying just beyond Paradise is Centenary Square and it has already it's £10m transformation. The area that was once home to the iconic 'Forward' statue and Cliff Richard's 'Flame of Hope' is now making way to a new 'urban' space that has received mixed views. One thing that will change is the layout of everyone's favourite Christmas Market, that will be adapted to fit around the all new Centenary Square. 


5) HS2 - Curzon Gate

There is no way that I could leave this one off the list. Arguably the most important development in Birmingham in decades, the multi Billion Pound project will see a central hub dominating Curzon Street. The area pictured above has already started to change and will provide the vital link between the new HS2 station and the heart of the City Centre. This one will be huge and with phase two expected to be completed around 2032 - you can expect this one be around for a while! 


6) Bradford Street and the view back to the city

Bradford Street provides one of the main links into the city, arriving just behind the Outdoor Markets. Major developments have already started popping up along the sides of the road and with a huge area (bottom right) earmarked for further projects, it won't be long before the view back to the city has changed forever. 


7) - The whole of Digbeth

And whilst we're in the area, it's probably worth noting that with the arrival of HS2 and the on-going 'land grab', it's not hard to imagine that much of the historic area will fall under development. I can only hope that at least some of the old buildings and light industry are preserved to ensure that there is some nod to the past and the important part that Digbeth has played as an industrial and creative hub for the city. 


8) The Iron Man

Another statue has grown legs and moved on (he genuinely has feet too!). Antony Gormley's famous statue has been moved to make way for the new Metro route and will be put into storage and cleaned up by Birmingham's Museum's Trust. The statue, with it's iconic rusty metal work will pop up somewhere new in the city, but for now at least, this is another view we will not see again in our city.


9) Victoria Square

Victoria Square has seen many changes over the decades. If you search for the 'old' pictures of Birmingham, it has been transformed from a grassy, park-like spot to a very 'urban' square that wouldn't look out of place in any major European City. Whether it's the brutal bulldozing of the old Library, the new Metro that will skirt around the edges of the Square or the filling in of the Floozy's fountain, Victoria Square is constantly evolving. 


10) The view form the old Natwest Tower

OK, so the view itself might not change much but with the demolition of the old Natwest Tower on Colmore Row, the skyline of the area will be changed forever. The new development of '103 Colmore Row' will see a new, glass-clad 26 storey tower replace John Madin's iconic structure. The new tower will undoubtedly be impressive, but the views from the top will be the real gem! 


11) The Wholesale Markets

Another icon of Birmingham will soon be cast to the history books with the demolition of the Wholesale Markets. The history of the markets can be tracked back over 800 years and it's most recent incarnation opened in 1974. The traders will now be relocated and the buildings demolished to make way for a substantial new development comprising of commercial and residential buildings and huge new park areas.


12) The City Skyline

With all of these changes, one thing that will definitely never stay the same is the city skyline! With many other new developments popping up around the city, Birmingham will continue to grow and change for many years to come! 

And finally...

I am not a historian, nor am I an expert on regenaration or city plannig. However, I do like to think my images go some way towards documenting our changing city. Even though it will not be to everyione's liking, it is impressive to see the money being spent in our city which can only have a positive impact. Birmingham is a very special place and I think more people are starting to realise this. We may have lost some special views and iconic buildings, but it will certainly be exciting to look back on these images in years to come and see just how much Birmingham has changed! 

VIDEO: Birmingham - The City Under Snow


It has been a crazy few days here in Birmingham with a deluge of snow and cold weather gripping the city. For us photographers, the wintery weather has been a real treat, making for some great images!

With rain forecast and temperatures finally due to rise (a little!) the snow should finally be on it's way. For many, in particular, the emergency services, this news is very welcome. However, I thought I would run out and grab some video before it goes! 

I only had a couple of hours to spare so I headed to Edgbaston Reservoir with the hope of a nice sunrise, and I wasn't disappointed! The reservoir looked great, lined by snow-covered trees. Best of all, due to it being around minus five (that's what my phone said at least!) I had the place practically to myself, well apart from the wildlife!

After exhausting every shot of the reservoir possible, I jumped on a bus and headed to the City Centre. Thankfully, many of the main roads/paths were now clearing making moving around a little easier. However, there was still enough snow & ice around to keep you on your toes (or your back if you're not careful!).

The snow has been fun but like many, I'm looking forward to it melting so we can get back to some kind of normality! Though judging by all of the great images I have seen on social media, it may feel a little boring without it! See the full video below and don't forget to click the link to YouTube and hit Subscribe to see more videos from me! Stay safe & warm ;) 

The Birmingham Blizzard! it's Snow beautiful...


I feel like when I was a kid, it always snowed around Christmas time. However, in recent years, you're about as likely to get snow in April as we are December. So when it actually does snow during the 'correct' time of year, it's like some sort of Christmas miracle! For us photographers, it is an extra special little gift as it gives us a chance to take pictures of all the same streets and scenes that we've shot a million times before, but looking completely different! 


The snow certainly brings a few problems with it, notably the impact the freezing temperatures have on your ability to get out of bed and not being able to feel your fingers five minutes after leaving the house! On a series note though, it leaves thousands of people vulnerable and makes the simple task of walking to the shop a potentially life-threatening journey! (EDIT - It really is grim out there, cars getting stuck and all sorts) So going out just to get some pictures is not as pleasurable as it may seem!


However, the results are always worth the extra effort! Seeing Birmingham bathed in a blanket of the white stuff is a rare and enjoyable treat, albeit in small measures before the Hypothermia sets in! By the time this is posted (sometime on Sunday morning - EDIT - I'm back, it was too cold!) I will be out again on a shoot and will be doing my best to take advantage of 'Ski-Sunday'! If you are venturing out, please be careful! For those lucky enough to be staying in the warm, here are a few images of (what I am unofficially calling) the Great Birmingham Blizzard! Have a click through the gallery below and keep an eye on my social media for more soon... (Find me on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram)

Building Brum: Westside meets Eastside

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It's not every day that you get the opportunity to stand on one of Birmingham's tallest buildings, let alone two of them! So when I was asked by Steve Townsend and Ben McPhee from Associated Architects (and all-round badass photographers) if I would care to join them for a spot of 'rooftopping' - I said 'Yes Please!'.

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The event would see a group of Birmingham's most talented photographers... and me... scale the McLaren Building and Alpha Tower, two landmarks of the city skyline, to capture the dramatic transformation that both sides of the city are going through. Judging by the sheer amount of cranes littering the horizon, there is a lot of development going on!

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Associated Architects play host to 'Building Brum' a series of networking events exploring the built environment and celebrating our great city. This particular project, as you have probably guessed by the title, aims to bring together the two sides of the city and look at how each site has evolved and how they will continue to progress in the future. 

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The event culminates in a photographic exhibition featuring work from a plethora of local photographers including Kris Askey @krisaskey, Tim Cornbill @timcornbill, Ben McPhee @benmcphee, Fay Loewy @Faylouiseloewy, Fraser McGee @frasermcgeefoto, Beth Astington @bethastington, Martin O’Callaghan @ocuk, Jon Crampton @joncrampton, Rachel Mason @heyrachelmason, Matt Beach @matt_beach_photography and Verity Milligan @veritymilligan (all of which are well worth a 'follow' on Instagram!)

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As for the views, well they were amazing and I don't think my images do them justice! However, Instagram has been awash with brilliant images from fellow photographers - so be sure to search the hashtag #westsidemeetseastide_bham for more! I'm always inspired by how many great photographers there are in Birmingham and to watch them battle through the wind and the rain on top of Alpha Tower in the dark, was a testament to how great they all are (and embarrassingly, I had packed up a long time before them!).

A huge thank you goes out to Steve Townsend, Ben McPhee, all at Associated Architects, Bruntwood, Alpha Works, McLaren Building, Alpha Tower and anyone else that played a part in making this happen, thank you!

#BullringAfterDark - One night, One Empty Bullring and lots of Photographers!

I love receiving emails out of the blue inviting me to do something super-cool that I would never normally get the chance to do! A few weeks ago, I got one, 'Would you like to come into the Bullring and shoot it after hours while it's closed?' Well that's a big fat Yes!

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I was slightly apprehensive as I wasn't sure who was going to be there, what we would shoot and to be honest, whether it would even be worth. So when we met at 11.45pm by 'the Bull' and I saw a group of my favourite photographers from Birmingham's growing community, I knew good things were in store (no pun intended!).

We were met by the guys from Bullring who were more than helpful and even went as far as to provide sweets and drinks, presumably to keep the sugar levels up for a long night ahead! We made our way around the outside of the building, taking advantage of the rare opportunity to use tripods (something normally restricted without a permit) and set to work shooting all of the iconic views in this historic part of the city.

Once we had covered every inch of the exterior, we made out way indoors. It was a strange feeling being in such a large shopping centre after hours, something I had only experienced many years ago when I worked in a shop at the Bullring. Needless to say, we all jumped at the opportunity to explore the space, looking for symmetry and shapes that you never normally have time to notice.

We slowly made our way up through the floors and round to 'Link Street' I think it is only when you see the centre closed that the space really hits you, it's cavernous! The group were all well behaved as we explored the levels, though some were a little more adventurous, lying on the floor to shoot the spectacular space above. 

The 'grand finale' was an exploration the Selfridges building. Seeing the shop empty, you really get an appreciation for the size of the place and you can take in it's spectacular balconies and cool crossed escalators. We made our way up to the bar on the top floor which offers great views back down over the West Mall - a must see if you find yourself in the store.

Thanks again to Bullring for allowing us access. Search #BullringAfterDark on social for more images from my fellow photographers...