There was nowhere to hide from the summer heat in August and it reminded me of the time I worked as a photographer at The Mystique Show Bar at The Pleasure Beach, the song "Too Darn Hot" blasting out at the matinee and evening performance. I loved it, I used to look up at the dancers and think how "otherworldly" it must be? not seeing the light or the sunshine during working hours and wondering how you connect with the Blackpool audiences who always looked so hard to impress.
Blackpool has a history with photographers known fondly as smudges, they would grab your image for a small fee as you promenaded down the seafront in your best clothes and promising you the chance of buying a pristine print later. I did my apprenticeship that summer after graduating in Fine Art with darkroom practice, taking the tourists photograph as they sat down to enjoy the show - "don't take my picture love, you will crack the camera" - I never hear that pun now. It was a seasonal job after graduation - I loved it, but mostly cos I got to soak up the performance atmosphere around the shows on The Pleasure Beach.
I think I would have been known as a smudge if it was the 40's but it was 2001. Now Blackpool does not even have a camera shop.
I spoke to Leslie Melville this month an ex Butlins red coat at The Metropole he did five seasons and worked on cruise ships but he told me he might had been a photographer if he had not become a performer. He told me; "I had worked for the Saidman Brothers who were professional photographers based in Blackpool most early postcards of Blackpool were taken by The Saidman Brothers, The Studio was on Alfred Street, it is still there a big bay window above a barbers shop. I did that for 6 weeks. Maurice used to run the studio at The Gazette he would take me out to photograph gas works and I would be knee deep in mud, testing me to see if I really wanted to be a photographer, I did that most of that winter but I never went back."
Leslie does talks now - Tales of A Travelling Trickster.