Portraits on location in Clerkenwell, London of Couriers , photographed on Linhof 5x4 and printed on Bromide prints - 1990's. Portrait photography of such a subject is now a historic body of work, there are still a few intrepid riders
Couriers - A personal photographic project -Portraits of a bygone age.
A photographers studio was set up in St John's Square in Clerkenwell and portraits taken on a Linhof 5x4 camera of Couriers who were then the delivery method of choice for urgent documents & data that was required across the city.
Couriers - photographic portraits in 1990's London.
A portrait project, Couriers were the communication and delivery system of choice in the pre digital age, the hero's on two wheels would collect data, artwork and film and deliver them around the City of London, often risking their lives to keep the creative and other business working, It was the early 1990's and I was then living and working from my London N1 Islington base, and after a location shoot would often use the courier service to collect and deliver my film from the lab, usually Metro, and then deliver the results to the agency or magazines who had commissioned the work.
One day I opened the door to see this heroic figure drenched , he delivered my processed film and then like a Western hero left to go to the next assignment. I thought these characters should be celebrated, at the time there was talk about the changes in photography starting with digital photography replacing film so I thought that these were courier figures may eventually cease to exist and so required documenting.
I set up a colerama white backdrop in St Johns Square, Clerkenwell, London, EC2, and over a day photographed a number of selected couriers that I managed to pursued to be subjects, the great collection of subjects embraced the opportunity the be photographed, the process for each subject would take a time as it was first necessary to engage with them and then explain the idea , some were onboard straight away, especially those who I had come across as a client as those who worked at Metro, a photographic lab and those guys were certainly photography savvy.
Working with a large format 5x4 Linhof Camera,was certainly challenging as it is a slow process and each frame would be costly even at that time, I would take up to six frames on each subject, if i hadn't got what I thought was a decent pic by the 6th images, I would thank them and move on.
The project was processed at Metro who were my supplier for most photo-finishing, but then the whole collection of portraits , didn't make get used, published or seen for many years. At the time I was primarily a landscape photographer and was not known for my portrait photography, I was represented by Peter Bailey and it was normal to stick to a specialist niche, at that point I was primary working as a landscape photographer and this portrait series was a departure from my usual practice, there was limited media where the work could be shown and my portfolio which was the way potential clients saw my work was made up of 10 x 8 transparencies that were mounted in black frames,leave behind postcards and occasional ads in trade mags were used to market my work to potential clients and so these images would not be seen for many years, in fact they surfaced only when I was studying for my MA and going back over my archive in 2008 probably 15 years since they were taken.
My studies, changed my direction and the collection of work then made sense and sat well with my new work as a Portrait photographer.
I do regret not publishing the work earlier and certainly I should have kept the model releases and note of who the subjects were, it would be great to contact then and I would be delighted to meet and photograph them again, and hopefully have that exhibition be it a little late. However the images are part of the Archive of my work and that of my father Willoughby Gullachsen, that is held at the Birmingham Central Library.