It’s been a while since I took part in a #MondayMasters but with this week’s recommendation of Jimmy Forsyth by Paul Carmody it seemed like a perfect time to get back involved.
Who was Jimmy Forsyth?
Jimmy Forsyth was a photographer most well known for his photos of Tyneside in the 1950 to 70. Although he came from South Wales and worked as a fixer in Newcastle, he fell out of work when he lost sight in his right eye. That’s when he took up photography and made money by selling pictures of the people on his street. He’d get them to pose, take a picture on a cheap camera and then come back when the pictures were developed and sell them a copy. (Let’s be honest guys, this is a cool origin story. He lost an eye but went on to do a highly visual medium, he used photography to scrape by, he used a cheap junky camera!)
After a while he moved on to trying to document his area and the changes it was undergoing. The turning point seems to be around 1981 when he was discovered in an exhibition in Newcastle’s side gallery. This lead to his book “Scotswood Road” being published in 1986 (the year of my birth) and further books later.
My Jimmy Forsyth Photo Pick
I choose this image of a group of construction workers against a truck. aesthetically there are some really nice elements like the leading lines from the buildings, the contrast of cobble stones and the workers, the fact that there are five men (odd numbers are always better), but there are other imperfections that are nice too. The separation isn’t amazing as they are wearing dark clothes against a dark truck and the quality of the image isn’t tack sharp. But this image opens a window into the world back then. The historic cars, clothes, and streets.
I love how “cool” these guys look in an obviously posed image of just normal people on the street, perhaps it shows how skilled Jimmy had become in making people relax and feel natural (a vital skill in street portraits).
- Scotswood road series on Amber photos
- Scotswood road book [US link] [UK Link]
- The independent looking back on Jimmy Forsyth soon after his death.
- Out of One Eye: The Photography of Jimmy Forsyth [US Link] [UK link]
Join in with #MondayMasters
If you’d like to join in with #MondayMasters, share something interesting about Jimmy Forsyth using the hashtag. Also keep your eyes open for the next Monday Master next week (also introduce yourself on Twitter or in the comments if you’d like to make a recommendation. Obviously you can’t suggest yourself because who would do that).