The North Laine Photography Gallery above Snooper’s Paradise is like a tourist office all of its own – their iconic images of our city are seen all over the world. We spoke to owner Nigel Swallow.
What was the original ethos for the gallery?
Representing diverse interpretations of what living in Brighton means to different people. Using popular imagery to bring in large audiences who were then exposed to less obvious perspectives, from photographers given the space to experiment.
You’ve been taking iconic photos of our city for years – what makes a good photo of Brighton?
It’s one that either you relate to personally but has a slight ‘edge’ to it, or that introduces you to a completely new perspective. It will always be subjective. I’d always be interested in finding another person’s idea of what constitutes a good photo of Brighton rather than my own view as invariably it improves my own perspective.
How do you choose the photos for the calendar?
We look at absolutely anyone’s work – a lot of it’s found online. It’s then a case of making 60+ images into a calendar a wide range of people will like. We do this in the gallery, getting customer feedback continually. The calendar starts to choose itself after an initial sprawl of images sees some ‘must haves’ stick out. Then we make a layout that flows and still includes key landmarks/events/a few surprises.
What photographers are you particularly proud of supporting in the gallery?
Kevin Mason (aka DarkDaze) is an obvious one – portraits of graffiti artists blown up large with the artist adding artwork on top. Casta Albon and her portfolio of local female impersonators, and Petrusco was someone who just deserved exposure. Kevin Sare had a set of images from the last month of his mother’s life after a long fight with cancer – they were very powerful and personal photographs.
Are you really going to close down? What will you do next?Yes, the gallery is closing in January. The images will still sell online at brightonphotography.com and at Xmas 2011 we’ll be back with a calendar (and hopefully with a book at last!) in Churchill Square and hopefully an Xmas period exhibition. I just want to go back to why I started this in the first place and do projects using the experience I’ve gained.
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