The Handmade Parade

When I visited my sister in Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire at the end of June it was the weekend of the town's annual carnival.

In the mid-19th century, Hebden Bridge was a prosperous manufacturing town whose textile mills were connected to distant suppliers and customers by canal and rail. The canal and the railway line are still there, but the town itself quickly slumped into industrial decline until artists and hippies started to move in in the 1970s. Today, Hebden is flourishing modestly again, despite a couple of devastating recent floods. There are few empty shop premises, new housing is being built, and there is a lively cultural scene.

The town is home to a mixed community of rural working class families and first and second generation 'alternative' in-comers of all kinds. This variety, and the happy tolerance with which they all seem to rub along, reminded me of Brussels where I live. The parade itself shares a lot with Brussels' bi-annual Zinneke Parade. Both are conscious celebrations of the diversity of the communities from which both performers and spectators are drawn.

My best photographs of the parade were all made at the end, as it entered the park for the finale. I sat on a patch of grass and shot upwards as the different groups passed just a metre or two in front of me, enabling me to simplify what was generally quite a busy scene. Converting some of the images into black and white simplified them even further and created a few compositions that I really like.

Walking around Brussels

When you walk around London or New York, and probably any other city of more than 5 million inhabitants, you feel as if you were shrouded in an invisibility cloak. As soon as you leave your own front door, you assume anonymity. When occasionally you do bump into a friend, you fling your arms round each other. "What are you doing here?" you both ask. "How small the world is!"

With a population of just over 1 million, Brussels is a big village. I started recognising faces on the street within a couple of weeks of arriving here in 2004. Now, I very rarely go out without meeting someone I know. Social, cultural, professional and local networks overlap and interconnect. Distances are short. Friends knock on one another's doors in the hope of a cup of coffee, but are not disappointed if there is no one at home.

I walk around the city a lot, and I always have a camera with me. I am not sure if the photographs I make count as street photography, which seems to have strict rules. I take pictures of people, but also of buildings, signs, street art, or anything else that catches my attention. Brussels is strong on whacky charm, so there is no shortage of subject matter.

Chaussée de Wavre, Matonge

Chaussée de Wavre, Matonge

Rue de la Concorde, Ixelles

Rue de la Concorde, Ixelles

You can find more of my street photographs here.