Way before I knew anything about the technical aspects of the medium, I started documenting everything and anything with my entry-level camera and a notebook. British Proud is the first photographic project I have ever made, back in 2017.
One day I decided to get on lots of random bus routes to look for something unique. I did not have to travel far as I was seeing so many things that intrigued me already after only a few stops away from home. There is lots of specialty shops in my area, which to me have a certain kind of charm. First of all because of the way they usually look, but also because of the type of customer service they offer. Their relationship and involvement with their local area is much more personal than big chain companies, mass brands and manufacturers. They are genuinely committed and care about the needs of the community.
My main interest for these type of shops is also most likely due to the fact my dad has his own business too, and I have always really looked up to him for doing what he loves and turning it into his full-time job. I think people who run their own small-scaled business, in particular the ones in the specialist category, are very fascinating. You can tell their shops are almost like their homes. They spend so much time in there, the places radiate familiarity. Sometimes they decorate and personalise them, really turning it into their own little place.
I began compiling photographs and life stories of these local family businesses and specialty shop owners in the Black Country, Birmingham and the surrounding areas in the West Midlands of England. My aim was to capture an evoking image, bringing across a message along the lines of "This is my shop and my pride. Even though it might be small and local, I am still able to keep my business running and have been doing so for quite some time."
Everyone has their own story to tell, contributing to society and our everyday lives in ways that more than often are not even acknowledged. With these images I would like to celebrate the local community, to put the local greengrocer or toy maker in the spotlight — the ones overlooked or under appreciated. Due to our current economic state, these type of shops and family businesses are under threat of having to close down, because the independent market and trade has to compete with bigger rivalry companies. Essentially, this project is not only a celebration, but also a way to raise awareness.