I found this small article on another blog post by Digbeth Is Great which gives a brief outline about the Irish influence on the local area, and their history. I did not realise until reading this that the Irish community in Birmingham dates back as far as the 1840’s, when the Irish were desperately trying to find work in an industrially flourishing city. The St. Patrick’s Day parade has become an enormous celebration, lasting for around ten days and attracting 100,000 people.
Witnessing this event in March was truly amazing, and the amount of people there to celebrate was inspiring. Even if some people were only there as an excuse to drink copious amounts of Guiness for ten hours straight, the community spirit and friendly atmosphere was refreshing to witness, and put to shame even more the far-right political demonstrations that have been occurring in recent times. Even though I am not from that community myself, I was warmly welcomed and included in the celebrations. The range of ethnicities and ages was very diverse, and every effort was made to include everyone.
The pictures that I made whilst attending this celebration have a very different feel to them in comparison to the quieter, more intimate portraits I made at the Irish Centre. However, I still decided to use some of them in the final edit for the zine, and intertwine them throughout. This is because I believe it shows an important part of the Irish heritage and highlights the theme of community. Although I shot this part of the project on a Mark ii with a flashgun as opposed to medium format film, I think the different styles cohere together and still fit into the same project. I had to adapt for the situation, and although it would not have been impossible to use a medium format camera, it was more efficient and effective to use digital in this instance. I am pleased with the results, and I feel my skills as a portrait or social documentary photographer really excel through these images. This is because the majority of the people I photographed were not concerned with my presence, allowing me to make pictures that get into a culture.