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.

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.