Demolition works invariably provide an abundance of opportunity for the urban/documentary photographer. Recording the moment of destruction often epitomises the very essence of the genre – capturing, if you will, the ‘decisive moment’ – the moment when the building in question is no more. The image, as always, can never be replicated but neither can the building – at least not precisely. This is, perhaps, why I have always enjoyed witnessing the sights, sounds and even smells of demolition sites.
There is, inevitably, the underlying sadness that a part of social history is disappearing, which is why documenting the process is, to me, important. I often try to image the lives that have been lived in those buildings being destroyed – whether occupied by individuals, families or businesses. There are often the reminders of habitation – damaged light fittings, torn wallpaper, bits of furniture, children’s toys and so on – the human touches that personalise the scene.
Images of demolition can have considerable impact, whether in monochrome or colour. I have chosen to upload some of my recent colour shots, which I hope will be of interest. As demolition is most often undertaken to make way for new development it is often good, I believe, to juxtapose the ‘old’ with the ‘new’, as I have done in some of these images.
I have long admired the quiet, unassuming approach of the late documentary photographer, Jimmy Forsyth, who worked exclusively in b&w and who, on occasion, I had the pleasure to see taking photographs of buildings which are now part of history.