Sleepless in Susanna – alt travel.

Alt Travel Photography, I’m not even sure that’s a real thing, but regardless it’s the description I’ve gone with for this particular project. Let me try and explain a little…

Every holiday (or vacation to those of you in the States) I come back with a handful of photographs. You know the kind; selfies, a few pics of the beach etc. The kind of photos I always refer to as “snapshots”. This is nice and all and upon my return I put them in a folder on my Mac, or occasionally get them printed. They’re nice memories to keep and look at a handful times over the years, but it kind of ends there. I decided this year I wanted to try something different…

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This past November my Wife and I headed on a working holiday in the beautiful coastal town of Santa Susanna – a short journey from Barcelona and very much in Catalan territory. Before we left I had already decided that I wanted to give this “alt travel photography” a shot. I wanted to create something different. Obviously whilst there I’d still take the selfies etc for personal use, but I wanted to really think and create a set of images I’d happily publish, or at the very least share on my website.
Everywhere we went, everywhere we explored, every activity it made me conscious of taking photographs. Finding a unique shot whilst still documenting our journey and our week. The day we had chosen to go into Barcelona city happened to be the day of the Catalan general strike which saw over 100,000 people take to the streets to protest against police brutality, and stand for democracy. I included only a couple of photographs from this day, partly because it’s not exactly what I wanted this project to be and partly out of respect for those protesting…
I knew from the get go I wanted to include portraits of us both but still capture the beautiful landscapes and surroundings. So that’s what this project is. ‘Alt travel photography”? I’m not sure, but it’s certainly alt for me. Something different, something that made my creative brain tick and something that led to a series work I’m proud of, all whilst experiencing a beautiful place in a sometimes drunken, but always happy state.
To view the full gallery please click on the following link: Sleepless in Susanna by Carl Beebee.

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An Autopsy of Rural England.

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**A new and ongoing photography project**

Come to Herefordshire and you’ll be surprised by its natural beauty, the green fields, untouched landscapes and the tranquility of the idyllic market towns and villages, where people try desperately to grasp onto a time and period that has all but passed. You will probably fall in love with Herefordshire and remark to your nearest and dearest how it’s such a wonderful place to visit. You may even want to retire here…

But dig a little deeper, cut it open and you might find a very different story. A very different county. You might find a story of the lowest wages in the West Midlands, a story of constant compromise, a story of a Tory seat that has largely been unopposed for the last two decades. Cut deeper and you will see a county that has placed all of its funding into one city centre. A failed regeneration that has left everywhere else behind it, in its murky shadow. You’ll find quiet streets – and I don’t mean in the tranquil way you may think of – but in a way where a lack of true investment, opportunity and a disposable income has emptied the streets until they look like a damaged Hopper painting.

This project is not about the people here. By large, the people here are good, honest and hard working. There are of course people who do not want change. They don’t understand it. There are also plenty of the “love it or leave it” brigade and there are people who undoubtedly deserve better. People who have been let down by a place where social injustice is being pushed into the very forefront.

Herefordshire is of course beautiful too. There are countless books and postcards to demonstrate that. There is an undeniable charm here, but the things and places that will be photographed for this project, unlike other counties, are not hidden. They are not relegated to the back streets, they are on our doorsteps, outside of our houses, in our town centres. Unhidden, unapologetic and in plain view. They are a constant reminder of an unbalanced county and an unbalanced economy. It is compromised and frequent, it is every part of our county. It is in equal measure to the beauty, the charm and the silence.

Look past the natural beauty and the over marketed history and you’ll see it. Clear as day. A political commentary? Perhaps. But it will be a definite and honest autopsy of the place I call home.

– Carl Beebee.

Hotel Nights.

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Every New Year it gets me. Like clockwork, the creative slump drags me down every January. I know some people who enter the New Year full of life and hope. The gyms get busier and the bars get quieter, but historically January has always been a royal pain in the ass for me. I just get a complete block on any creative ideas. Much like authors can suffer for years with writers block, this grabs hold of me and seemingly never wants to let me go.

It’s not that I haven’t tried in the past, but every idea is met with a depressing “what’s the point” attitude. Or a feeling and thought that it wouldn’t be saying anything. It’s a hard chain to break and usually for this month I only ever use my camera for “work”.

This year I was determined to break the slump. I didn’t want to go big but I wanted to feel creative. I wanted to create something that I liked, that interested me, regardless of whether I eventually shared it with an audience.

I came to the conclusion that the best way to do this was to shoot something I’d enjoy, without necessarily worrying about its relevance, context or artistic merit. With that in mind I booked myself and my Wife two nights away in a city centre hotel in Birmingham. I stocked up on Fuji Instax film and decided I’d document our drunken fueled weekend getaway. As soon as we got there and I started I instantly felt good about the project. It was great shooting something for myself rather than a client.

In the end I did share 30 of the of the instant photographs and I’m quietly (or not so much now) pleased with them. (You can view the photos here) Not only are they a great reminder of our time away but they have a feel and a look to them I love. They look like part of a documentary photo essay. Are they saying anything? No. Does that matter? No. Because I returned and felt that the annual creative slump had this year passed me by. Which in fairness, with a book to get finished this year is pretty important.

If you’re creatively suffering, whether you’re a photographer, writer, painter or any other artist my advice would be just to create. Don’t worry about what it’s for or what the point is. Just create. Shoot, write, paint. Anything. The only way I have personally found to defeat the slump is to ‘do’…

The Beginning

For me, photography has always been about story telling – not necessarily obvious – but story telling none the less.

For some time I had wanted to create a short series of work that included a business man, and I wanted it to push the connotations of sanity, happiness and depression.

My intention for the work was, at first glimpse to look like an end, but the story is very much one of a beginning. The images depict a business man finally free from office constraints – he is happy, stress free and fulfilled – it is a story of a new beginning. The beginning of a free individual.

You can view the whole series by clicking here