A Street photography course in Blackpool, the iconic British seaside resort.
Our Blackpool street photography course this year coincided with the annual Rebellion Festival, the largest British Punk festival held here since 1996 and mainly in the Winter Gardens. With its new outdoor stage, slap bang in front of Blackpool Tower, it had now capacity for 15,000 fans and was featuring some iconic bands such as Gary Newman, The Stranglers, Jilted John and Squeeze. The holiday destination turned out to be a great place to be with so many colourful characters around.
We parked at the Central Car Park and then headed to the Wexford Diner for a delicious breakfast. It’s really worth a visit! Then we headed to Munchy’s to meet the photographers on the course, to go through the plan for the day along with some street photography techniques and tips on what to look out for to make the most of the day.
The punks and rockers were around early morning up till about midday: next time we will have to plan on staying later after the gigs have finished, because some great shots will be there to be taken in the evening.
Plan your Street Photography Route
We had researched our routes ahead of the course and it proved to be helpful to find our way to street-photogenic (is that even a word?) locations. You should always plan your route when you go to a new location to shoot the street (or any other genre for that matter), look ahead of time for images taken in the area and where there are good backgrounds, likely places to see people and interesting situations developing. Have a look to our video on this topic on our YouTube channel to have a better idea!
Here is our planned route:
We didn’t do the whole Blackpool street photography route, we didn’t need to: we went through the North Pier to Central Pier areas, then we remained on the Golden Mile and we ended up on the beach just north of the Central pier. You don’t have to religiously stick to the route, but having researched it gives you a good, solid ground to start from and then you can go with the flow if things develop through the day!
After the introductory lesson we set off and from Munchy’s we took a stroll through the town centre, where it was very busy. Almost a typical Saturday morning in a town center, just with a lot more mohicans in sight! From there we made our way to the North Pier which, although quiet, made for some great backdrops to practice shooting through and layering techniques.
That couple was shot (photographically of course) by all of us, while kneeling on the ground in a group:
Here is Mark shooting with attendees: pretty conspicuous, right? Well, they didn’t pay any attention! We managed to stay there for at least 15-20 minutes and they just went about their business without minding us.
From the Pier we made our way back and past the Blackpool Tower shooting the street until we got to Coral Island, where we walked up and down capturing many colourful families as they holidayed. This is where a lot of the Blackpool street photography you can see online is often shot.
From Coral Island we made our way to the Central Pier, where the Fun Fair is. Although it was now very busy and very bright with the early afternoon sun, it was a case of finding the pools of light, selecting the right background and then waiting for the best characters to enter your space. Another thing to be very aware of was to get ourselves in the right position to have the sun lighting our subjects rom the front or side, not the back.
After walking up and back down the central pier we started to make our way back along the beach looking for little groups that made great shapes. Blackpool street photography without the beack would not be complete, would it?
Photographing on the beach is a skill that needs to be honed, you have to be fast and unobtrusive and be able to frame quickly without disturbing the scene. Look at our video on photographing Weston-Super-Mare for a few tips on seaside street photography, and check this video on how to be unobtrusive while shooting.
Finally, we made our way back to town for a quick refresher and a well deserved cup of iced coffee to conclude our Blackpool street photography workshop.
Blackpool, a Street Photographer’s dream
Out of all the locations we’ve photographed, including Weston Super Mare recently, Blackpool is definitely up there as a great place to practice your street photography: with its historic buildings, its seaside vibe and then with the added bonus of a punk event its definitely as good as it gets for street photography and, although it has taken a bit of a battering recently from both the pandemic and the constant sea weather, it’s a really quirky town with lots of really interesting people. It’s a place Mark has always had a soft spot for, having been taken there many times as a young child with the family.
Remember to venture off the main Golden Mile and into the quieter back streets or the piers to find many more opportunities!.
We made some great contacts up in Blackpool and we can see an opportunity to start a project, not on the places that we’ve photographed during the course, but on the real people of Blackpool. Watch this space!
Here are a few more images from our Blackpool street photography day:
The 3 F’s in Street Photography
Listen to The Street Photography Magazine Podcast where Mark Seymour is interviewed by Bob Patterson and talks about the main shooting techniques in Street photography, called the 3 F’s.