Where are you from ?

In the context of my work I meet many people and even if its only a brief encounter when I say my name or give someone a business card, the first question they ask is 'Where are you from?'.

My usual reply is 'West Brom' usually delivered with a straight face.

That is when it gets interesting.

I am blessed with a name that is unusual and even in the enlighten multi-cultural society, I find the icebreaker of my name has been a great way to get a friendly communication established. It helps whenever I have a few spare minutes when photographing a client that I can elaborate on my heritage and move on to the most important subject and that is of coarse them.

I am blessed & cursed with my name, it has easily taken up a whole day of polite conversation over the years and so taken the most precious thing I have(my time) but then it has helped engage and be remembered.

I have to explain that I am a grandson of a Norwegian - but that is only a start. My surname is unusual enough and sounds Nordic, so that is accepted, but Lorentz - that is confusing, I say it is a family name and it was my turn. But then the name sounds Italian or if they have not heard or not really seen the spelling, start to call me Lorenzo.

I often ignore the mispronouncing and just get on, but when I am introduced as Lorenzo, I try to courteously try and point out that in fact its Lorentz - TZ makes all the difference and then I sound like an attention seeker.

I can't win and can't loose.

So I am going and try to clarify so if anyone is interested then here is a brief history and explanation of why I am Lorentz Gullachsen.

My Great Grandfather - Lorentz Herman Gullachsen came to Newcastle from Bergen, Norway in approx 1895, an enterprising gentlemen who had cabinet making skills set up a furniture Business 'Gullachsen & sons' one of his sons was Lorentz Willoughby Gullachsen was my grandfather.

Lorentz Willoughby Gullachsen

Sadly in the 1920's during the depression and after devastating fire at the factory the business closed.

Gullachsen & Sons furniture is often found in auction houses and antique shops & there is an enamel sign at the Beamish Museum that documents the business.

My Grandfather & my father (Willoughby Gullachsen) came south and eventually settled in Birmingham in the 1930's .

My father just to confuse the name issue was known as Gus. In fact to confuse matters even more, he was a photographer.

In Great Barr my father set up a photography business working from home, he met my mother who was working at a another photographic studio in West Bromwich and after a while my parents moved to West Brom and my father set up a studio there. He then moved to Edgbaston in Birmingham and was well known theatre and television specialist - we eventually shared a studio in central Birmingham before I left for London.

I loved and admired my father in equal measure, however I saw how hard he worked and how little time he was at home and so I did not want to be a photographer- I did however change my mind when I saw a film which showed the lifestyle of a 60's London photographer, the Film "Blow Up' was directed by Michelangelo Antonioni, and that pursued an impressionable youth that photography was going to be a fun career path.It has been a great choice of career but not quite the glamorous life that I thought it would be.

So I do come from West Bromwich, Birmingham, London and now I am based in Stratford on Avon but work in London & across the UK.

My name is Norwegian but I am English but think of myself as a European / Scandinavian.

Maybe I should have stuck to my school nickname?

That was ***?

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