An extraordinary Photobook Month Manchester with Karen Mcbride

16th September 2011

Well, were we in for a treat. More of that later. First to the promise for the night: we were promised something different, something inspiring, something fresh.

Introducing, Karen Mcbride. To introduce Karen to a Manchester photography audience is rather like introducing Noel Gallagher to its music fans – they know her and they like her. A lot.

Karen is a prolific music photographer, selling her work to the likes of the legendary House Of Blues for huge sums of money. She loves her camera and she loves doing what she does, with compromise

Here’s how – with Karen’s help – the Manchester Photobook Month was extraordinary

Karen McBride

Karen’s one of those people who has you gripped from the moment she starts talking – she has incredible stories to tell. Incredible stories that take their form in pictures in her very first photobook “Elvis Would Have Really Liked Me”, a collection of her work which takes its title from something Elvis’ guitarist Scotty Moore said to Karen, after a few drinks at his Nashville ranch. You need to keep your eyes peeled for this one.

The Deaf Institute

What a venue. Right in Manchester’s busy creative end, The Deaf Institute plays host to all things creative, not least a thriving music scene. We made the basement bar our home, complete with our own barman and a space so perfect for our event we can’t wait to come back. Our barman got stuck in too, taking pictures with his camera and confessing that he was excited to be working last night because he’s an aspiring photographer himself.

Karen’s props

Not only did Karen share a complete run through of her book, but she also brought along her very first camera, a Kodak Brownie, found in a bin when she was 18. It was this camera, we learned, that inspired her to take up photography. She also brought along an incomplete ideas books containing only half a dozen pages. We were also treated to some early dark room prints of Karen’s early ballet photography. Beautiful.

The shoot

And finally to the real showstopper – an impromptu shoot with a model friend Karen had brought along. Our audience decamped to the street to take portriats of our model under Karen’s guidance. The highlight was showing photographers how to break down the barrier between camera and model, including a – deliberately – uncomfortable session on how to “invade personal space”. The point Karen was making was simple: a good model will do what ever you want them to do. Let them trust you. Take control. Fantastic. Thank you Karen, you were fantastic.