40 years on from Birmingham street pop-up photography

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40 years on from Birmingham street pop-up photography



(Picture: Handsworth Self Portrait/ Bishton, Homer & Reardon)If you saw a pop-up photo shoot set up on a public street, would you photograph yourself?
Residents of a Birmingham street found themselves in that situation 40 years ago and were left to take self-portraits when a camera and blank screen was set up.
In 1979 photographer Derek Bishton, Brian Homer and John Reardon erected a pop-up photography studio on a street in Grove Lane, Handsworth, Birmingham.
At the time, photography was seldom practiced except for admin purposes like passports or special occasions like weddings. So a public photo studio which let passers-by use the shutter release and control the moment they wanted captured was a big deal.
Over 500 people flocked to the pop-up studio to take their own selfies, bringing their friends, family, and pets into the frame.
Those who took part in their project – which ran from August to October – were given a free print to keep.
And now these images are being showcased in a new exhibition at the Midlands Arts Centre (MAC).

(Picture: Handsworth Self Portrait/ Bishton, Homer & Reardon)The exhibition presents the original photographic prints, on loan from Birmingham Museums Trust on behalf of Birmingham City Council, along with images never before seen in public.
The collection of images provides a unique insight into a vibrant, multicultural community and offers an opportunity to look back at local people to see what has changed.
‘For most people who took part it was just a bit of a laugh,’ said Derek Bishon, one of the people who set it up at the time.

(Picture: Handsworth Self Portrait/ Bishton, Homer & Reardon)‘As photographers, we had a serious intent because we recognised that Handsworth, at that time, was undergoing a radical change in terms of the demographics of the area. It was really the UK’s first multicultural suburb, and we wanted to make a record of that moment and give the people a role in creating that record.
‘We wanted to challenge the negative representation of Handsworth people in the local and national newspapers and give people a chance to literally and figuratively put themselves in the frame, to represent themselves. I think one of the great joys, when you look back on the self-portraits, is seeing how well people of all ages and backgrounds presented themselves. How good they look.’
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Midlands Arts Centre is also encouraging anyone who recognises the subjects from the pictures to come forward and identify them.
Here are some of the images you can see at the exhibition running from 23 March to 2 June:

(Picture: Handsworth Self Portrait/ Bishton, Homer & Reardon)

(Picture: Handsworth Self Portrait/ Bishton, Homer & Reardon)

(Picture: Handsworth Self Portrait/ Bishton, Homer & Reardon)

(Picture: Handsworth Self Portrait/ Bishton, Homer & Reardon)

(Picture: Handsworth Self Portrait/ Bishton, Homer & Reardon)

(Picture: Handsworth Self Portrait/ Bishton, Homer & Reardon)

(Picture: Handsworth Self Portrait/ Bishton, Homer & Reardon)

(Picture: Handsworth Self Portrait/ Bishton, Homer & Reardon)

(Picture: Handsworth Self Portrait/ Bishton, Homer & Reardon)

(Picture: Handsworth Self Portrait/ Bishton, Homer & Reardon)

(Picture: Handsworth Self Portrait/ Bishton, Homer & Reardon)

(Picture: Handsworth Self Portrait/ Bishton, Homer & Reardon)

(Picture: Handsworth Self Portrait/ Bishton, Homer & Reardon)

(Picture: Handsworth Self Portrait/ Bishton, Homer & Reardon)

(Picture: Handsworth Self Portrait/ Bishton, Homer & Reardon)

(Picture: Handsworth Self Portrait/ Bishton, Homer & Reardon)

(Picture: Handsworth Self Portrait/ Bishton, Homer & Reardon)

(Picture: Handsworth Self Portrait/ Bishton, Homer & Reardon)

(Picture: Handsworth Self Portrait/ Bishton, Homer & Reardon)

(Picture: Handsworth Self Portrait/ Bishton, Homer & Reardon)

(Picture: Handsworth Self Portrait/ Bishton, Homer & Reardon)

(Picture: Handsworth Self Portrait/ Bishton, Homer & Reardon)

(Picture: Handsworth Self Portrait/ Bishton, Homer & Reardon)

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