Tales of Gloucestershire research – Homer Sykes | Once A Year

Homer Warwick Sykes (born 1949) is a Canadian born British photographer.

“When Homer’s mother remarried in 1954, after his father’s death, the family moved to England. As a teenager, Homer was a keen photographer, with a darkroom at home and at boarding school. In 1968 he embarked on a three year course at the London College of Printing, while sharing a house in St John’s Wood. In the summer vacation during his first year, he went to New York, and was impressed by the work of current photographers – Cartier-Bresson, Davidson, Friedlander, Frank, Uzzle and Winogrand – that he saw at the Museum of Modern Art.”


I found the book ‘Once A Year’ at the Photographers Gallery in London and picked it up because I think that it related quite well to the work I’m doing for Tales of Gloucestershire. Sykes has photographed unusual British customs that take place once a year, often in the countryside, therefore the conditions and locations Sykes was shooting are fairly similar to what I’m aiming for.

The subjects in the photos don’t appear to be posed, there aren’t individual portraits, just candids of the events taking place. screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-18-03-25The King on Horse Back. Garland Day, Castleton Derbyshire

screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-18-04-21Striptease tent, Pinner Annual Fair granted by Edward III in 1336

screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-18-04-38Britannia Coconut Dancers, Bacup, Lancashire, England

screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-18-06-52Marshfield Mummers Paperboys, Marshfield, Gloucestershire, England

I feel as though I can use these photos for inspiration when shooting my ‘Tales of Gloucestershire’ series because they depict traditional British customs. Sykes has photographed these people in different conditions, he is not put off my bad weather and I think that these help to provide a more accurate depiction of these events, as the weather here is unpredictable. I have been taking quite a few portrait photographs but not many non-direct photos of people and so next time I attend the car boot I will focus more on taking context shots of sellers and the general public.


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