The northern sea-side town of New Brighton forms the heart and soul of Wirral-based photographer, John-Lloyd Quayle's on-going photo series, At The Front, which sees him capture the eclectic mix of residents and holidaymakers who inhabit the famous waterfront as it undergoes a multi-million pound redevelopment.
We spoke with Quayle following his feature in TRIP Mag #1 to find out more about his New Brighton experiences.
TRIP: What made you choose New Brighton as a basis for this project?
John-Lloyd Quayle: New Brighton has always interested me. The rich mixture of day-trippers, the character of the area and the fact that there is always something to photograph makes it the place perfect to turn it into a project. The history of the place is interesting too, financially it has had plenty of ups and downs but now the area is picking up and it’s re-gaining its reputation as a holiday resort once again.
TRIP: What is your earliest memory of New Brighton?
John-Lloyd Quayle: My earliest memory of New Brighton is probably from the mid-90s when my Grandad would drive me and my cousins to the prom and we would play on the rocks while he took photos with his little 35mm camera. I remember the place having very few shops but on a sunny day the beaches would be packed with people. The lack of facilities the area had at this time didn’t seem to stop the day-trippers from having a good time.
TRIP: The vast majority of the people in your photographs have been caught unawares. Have you upset anybody along the way? Or faced any hostility from members of the public?
John-Lloyd Quayle: If I’m not taking a portrait of someone I tend not to ask people's permission, not because I’m scared of asking the person if I can take the photo but just for the fact that when I see something or someone that interests me I like to capture that exact moment. If I ask a person’s permission that moment is lost and the picture has a sort of rehearsed feeling to it. Most of the time if people see me taking their picture they’re really nice and they start chatting to me but there has been a small hand full of people who have been hostile about it. I just try and diffuse the situation by explaining that I’m a photographer documenting the area. One person has threatened to call the police but I think she was just having a bad day.
TRIP: Has your opinion of New Brighton (and New Brighton’s residents) changed since starting the project?
John-Lloyd Quayle: My opinion of New Brighton has never changed. The area has changed visually but that’s all. I feel as though the entire place is embodied with people’s memories. I’ve always seen it as a sort of nearby utopia for people to escape to.
TRIP: You’ve stated the series is on-going – do you see an end in sight yet, if you do at all?
John-Lloyd Quayle: I don’t see an end coming any time soon, there’s always something new and interesting to photograph. New Brighton is still part of my life and my camera is still part of me.