Notting Hill Carnival- Café Royal Books

It’s carnival time, or almost so, though I’m not sure I will be going this year. I came late to Notting Hill, only discovering it in the 1990s but was immediately captivated by it, our largest street festival. For the next fifteen or so years I went every year I was in London, spending two days taking photographs and then a further several days recovering my hearing. Carnival is a hugely visceral experience, where you feel the sound and your whole body vibrates, and I wanted to try and capture something of that in my pictures.

Of course carnival is a very colourful event, and I did photograph it in colour, but somehow it was the black and white images I also took (and some years only took) that somehow managed – at least for me – to convey the spirit of the event.

Some of these pictures were among the first of mine to be put on a web site, Fixing Shadows, back in 1994 or 5. Fixing Shadows was one of the earliest web sites to show photographs on an internet that was only just beginning to display images as well as text. The site is still on-line, though the scans, made on a black and white only flatbed scanner, while effective, are not quite up to current standards.

Later, J David Sapir, who as well as setting up Fixing Shadows, a site ‘concerned with photographs of historic interest and with contemporary straight photography in general‘ was editor of the Visual Anthropology Review, commissioned fellow academic George Mentore to write the leading article in the Spring/Summer 1999 edition (Volume 15 number 1), Notting Hill in Carnival in which, as well as his writing about Notting Hill in particular and carnival in general from an anthropological viewpoint, also featured 20 of my pictures, each accompanied by a sometimes lengthy comment by Mentore.

Those of you with JSTOR or similar academic logins will be able to read it, but those without can only access the first page of the text  – and none of my photographs – without payment. (The issue also contains an excellent article by Darren Newbury, Photography and the visualisation of Working Class Lives in Britain, illustrated by work by Paul Trevor, Nick Waplington and Paul Graham.)

Since 1999 a few of the pictures have appeared here and there and in 2008, twenty of them were a part of a show ‘English Carnival‘ in London’, also still on-line.

I’m delighted to say that Café Royal Books have now published ‘Notting Hill Carnival in the 1990s‘ and for a mere £6.00 you can buy a copy of this 36 page issue with 18 of my pictures, including just a few that I’ve not printed or published before.

Notting Hill Carnival in the 1990s

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