Working photographers on risking life, limb and beer-soaked kit to document British subcultures
In The Pits
“I grew up in Southend, and there was a banger racing track nearby. I had the idea of revisiting it to see if it had changed. And to my wonderment, it hadn’t.
“I did take pictures of people racing, but I focused on the pits – people smashing the hell out of these cars so they’ll race again.
“I didn’t get run over, but you do need to have your wits about you. In a way, it’s a noble end for the cars. What better way to go than being driven headlong into another car?”
Chalkley’s banger film will be on The New British iPad app; facebook.com/thenewbritishmag
Here Come The Teds
“Teddy Boys were the first proper subculture. I met one guy who was nearly 80 and still had a quiff. He said, ‘I was a Teddy Boy at 13 and I’ll be a Teddy Boy until I die.’
“It’s a working man’s thing, but they’re expensive to make, those suits. The Teds travel, and I’m sure they spend a lot on rare records, so that’s a lot of your money gone.
“Photographing them was like going into battle. There was beer everywhere and I had quite a few elbows in the face on the dancefloor. Every 10 or 15 minutes we’d retreat to the bar, take a look at what we’d got, wipe beer off the camera and go back in again.”
Jay Brooks has a forthcoming exhibition and book later this year; see jaybrooks.net for updates
“I’ve always had a fascination with people who live off the straight and narrow. I suppose it’s a reflection of me, really. I’m this middle-class country boy who’s had a supposedly normal life, so I’m fascinated by people who choose to live a different way. I thought of Hells Angels as the hardest club to get into. How did I infiltrate it? You’d have to ask them. I assume a bit of luck.
“Trouble is, anything that’s slightly out of the norm these days is in great danger of becoming fashionable, as the marketing men get hold of it.”
Andrew Shaylor’s new book Rockin’: The Rockabilly Scene is out now; shaylorphoto.com
“I’ve lived with a camera around my neck since the late Sixties. When I was standing on the Tube every day, it became part of my life that I photographed. Back then, it was a weird, grubby place, and people used to pee on the platforms.
“People describe the pictures as moving and intimate, which is how I felt doing it. I felt connected to all these people, like the unofficial Tube photographer.
“I’ve never had contact from TFL. I think they look at these pictures in horror. They don’t want to promote a place where people show their arses on trains, but that’s what you get with my photos.”
‘Underground’ is at the Howard Griffin Gallery until 15 July; howardgriffingallery.com
(Images: Dean Chalkley/Jay Brooks/Andrew Shaylor/Bob Mazzer)