Brooklyn’s Sweet Ruin

Sixteen years ago, with Mike Seaborne, who was then both a photographer and Senior Curator of Photographs at the Museum of London, I agreed to set up a web site dealing with one of our great shared interests, photography of the urban landscape. I had some web space for it, wrote the site registered the domain in December 2001 and the site was online for the start of 2002, with pictures by Mike and myself.

It was never our intention that the site should be limited to just our own work, and from the start there was an invitation to submit work, both photographic essays and theory, that fitted our ideas of urban landscape photography, and I tried hard to include some definition of what we were looking for.

As well as the ‘contribute’ page which was a part of the original site, which began with the message:

We welcome critical essays on urban landscape and small bodies of urban landscape work by photographers, although we are unable to offer any payment.

and continued to give some details, at the start of the following year I added another page, which attempted to explain my definition of urban landscape, with some example images.  We had added a few of the many submissions Mike and I had received, but far too many were just from people who made pretty pictures in the urban environment without any real intention to say anything about the city.

But there have been other submissions over the years which have have given us a great thrill to receive and one of earliest of these was by Paul Raphaelson, whose work ‘Wilderness‘ we added to the site in 2005.

So I was delighted to get an e-mail from Paul a day or two ago announcing his new book, Brooklyn’s Sweet ruin.


You can see some of the pictures from this project on Paul Raphaelson’s web site, along with more of his work, and they appeal to me greatly. I’ve long had an attraction to decaying former industrial sites – which you can see in some of my own work both on Hull and in London’s docklands and estuary – and Paul’s images have a clarity and elegance that I admire, along with some fine colour. I’ve not seen the actual printed book, but it appears to be a fine publication, available from Amazon through various UK suppliers.

Both Mike Seaborne and I have moved on considerably since we set up the site, and although it is still on line and still open to new contributions, we haven’t really been keeping it up to date. As readers of this blog will know photographing protests around political issues have been engaging much of my time, and this year I’ve been putting another image from my work in Hull in the 1970s and 80s on line every day as a contribution to Hull’s year as UK City of Culture both on the Hull web site and on Facebook. Next year as well as adding some more images on the Hull site I also hope to put a new site about my work on London Buildings from 1986-2000 on-line, most of which has not previously been published.

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