It’s June 2019 and time for a walk with someone, so let me introduce you to Tobias Beachwyld.
Tobias is in his early thirties, a very keen film photographer, likes alternative processes, teaches photography and currently undergoing a masters degree at Falmouth. He has a passion for real life, which shows in his documentary photography work.
We began talking a few months ago after I met his wife at a school in Lincolnshire. After reaching out we discussed photography after it became clear both of us were interested in film and education.
Many Instagram chats later we penned a date and a location – Hull. It’s cool meeting people for the first time, even though you’ve probably seen photos of each other on profiles. There is this anticipation of will we get on, which is stupid of course, because we’ve been chatting for months. With all our gear packed and ready, we had pre-booked the sunshine, so we were all set. We quickly sorted driving arrangement and Tobias parked up close to our destination – the old docks of Hull.
The location is part of an expanding shopping estate, full of those large retail units. But within a hundred yards lays the history of yesteryear. We know enter the domain of Tobias and his knowledge and passion of documentary photography.
Tobias is actually working on a project involving the old fisherman of Hull, looking back at the history, the changes and where this all took place. He’s got some lovely ideas and is very open with his progress of this project. It was nice to have a personalised view of something that’s obviously important to him. We walked around the small campus of buildings, which are huge buildings just left to the elements and vandals of course. Like any photographer with a keen eye, we looked around for any hidden detail without risking climbing and entering any unsafe areas.
We had previously discussed both our film based work and thought the docks would suit both of us. The idea of using old industrial buildings to support my ongoing “desolation” project was fascinating and something completely different to my other shots.
We had a good walk around and both shot film in and around the building and dock (including help in the form of the torch facilities on our smartphones). It takes time and practise to learn composition, so we didn’t rush around and kept looking for that angle.
Luckily Tobias had done some research and found a street in Hull which had obviously been bought as some sort of compulsory purchase situation. The street appears to have been abandoned and left right next to other similar local housing. It’s must be quite daunting for the rest of the residents having properties at the end of there street just left. It felt like this row were just left to rot.
It was nice to see Tobias is all about the image and not the gear too. I had sensibly taken the decision to only take one camera, Tobias had brought a few along to show me. I have never seen a Leica in person, so it was nice to see these little rangefinders in action.
Tobias has a range of cameras for different purposes including his trusty Leica, a Mamiya with a zoom and even a trusty Olympus XA! We discussed the pitfalls of carrying our medium format around and our love of the format, but it was nice to hear positive things about the little XA, so might have to try one.
One of modern twists was a gimbal for his smartphone that allowed him to take a panoramic stitch of the abandoned street we visited.
Of course as photographers we have to talk shop too, so we discussed people we’ve learned from. I apologised for my lack of education and talked about Chuck Jines and his previous street work. Tobias told me how tough Newport university was and how strict the lecturers are, but for good reasons. Because of his work (teaching photography) he has access to good facilities, but also he likes to work with alternative processes like salt prints too. This is intriguing to me so we are trying to do something like cyanotypes on our next meet up.
It was a damn pleasure to meet another person who is a good person, knows his stuff, is very grounded and teaches this art we call photography. Sharing this amazing passion for photography is in both of us, so im sure there will be something collaborative on the horizon.
Please keep watching Tobias on Instagram (link here) to see his projects unfold over time, we wish him all the best in his masters degree. Hopefully a book or zine will follow with his fishermen project.
If you liked this article don’t forget to check out a walk with Luke Flisher too and many more to come. Fancy a walk with the Phlogger, then get in touch!
Until next time, keep shooting and stay true.
PS The film images will appear in due course.