Photographer Paul Graham and the Nice North Street
In 1981, the photographer Paul Graham started his first serious project at the age of 25. The concept was to go up and down the A1, the 410 mile long road that runs the full length of the UK from London to Edinburgh, capturing the people and places it came across. "I was a young, ambitious young photographer who was very passionate about the medium, ”says Graham CR. “I was looking for a way to reflect my love for the medium and to give myself an open canvas for portraits, landscapes, still lifes, buildings, sunsets and rainy days. It was an excuse to travel around the UK. "
The resulting series A1: The Great North Road became a photo book in 1983 that Graham published himself. Although photography as a scene was flourishing in Britain at the time, the monographic photo book was rare and there were no dedicated publishers or distributors. Also significant was the fact that Graham printed his book in color and the A1 project started the New Color photography movement in Great Britain.
Graham's photo book captured British roadside life in rich, vibrant colors and influenced British social documentary photography by paving the way for a new generation of photographers to experiment with color film. Now, 40 years later, Mack is republishing Graham's book – here the photographer talks about the process of self-publishing, the reaction to the series and his thoughts on it.
Cafe Assistants, Compass Cafe Colsterworth, Lincolnshire, November 1982. All images from A1: The Great North Road, Paul Graham. Courtesy the artist and Mack
Graham borrowed the Morris Mini Traveler from his girlfriend's grandmother for two years, and every few months he drove up and down the street taking photos. "There was very little research, you couldn't really research, so I'd just leave it to chance," says Graham. "I would often go to a coffee shop and ask someone if I could take a picture of them and usually people were very helpful. They would say yes and then I would say," I'll be back in a minute. "I went to my car and came back with this huge case with a huge, old, large format wooden camera that, as you know, I used with the 4 × 5, 5 × 4 and 8 × 10 cameras, people weren't expecting that . But that's a pretty lovable, old-fashioned thing too, and when they got over that shock, people would have liked you with cameras like that. "