Around The Floodlit Grounds
On a bridge in Rotherham, South Yorkshire in 2004, a teenage girl passed by and commented loudly to her friend about the idiot setting up a tripod to take pictures of the floodlit Millmoor football ground from a distance. “What’s the point in that like? He’s too far away to see ball!!” she tutted. The idiot as you might have guessed was me and the girl had a good point. I was to repeat this idiotic waste of time on a few more occasions over the next few years, outside other football grounds mostly dotted around the south east of England (where people only call you names when you’re not there!). From 2008 onwards, I was doing it every week between late September and early April - when the nights are longer and darker. There was no stopping this idiotic behaviour! At heart I’m a street photographer who loves photographing people going about their daily lives. I’ve never had much time for pictures that don’t have people or dogs in them so when I set my camera up that night in Rotherham, I started looking around for people to include in the picture. I decided against asking the teenage girls and settled for a self portrait by placing myself in the left hand side of the frame. The long exposure made me look a bit like a ghost (a ghost with great hair though I’m sure you’ll agree!). Fortunately I soon realised that I didn't have to include myself or anyone else in these pictures because the floodlit scenes themselves were interesting enough. For many years I thought that perhaps it was just me who saw floodlit sporting arenas as a great spectacle for people passing by outside as well as for those watching the action inside or on TV. It wasn’t just the big stadiums that created a spectacle - if anything the small village club grounds made for more interesting pictures. I find that nondescript suburban cul-de-sacs, old terraced streets or quiet country lanes surrounding the grounds can be transformed - lit up like Hollywood film sets by the floodlights spilling over from the nearby football grounds. I feel compelled to photograph these scenes and capture the excitement that I felt as a teenage boy when walking to evening matches at Everton's Goodison Park with the distant beams of light from the stadium like beacons drawing us towards it.
The plan is to continue photographing all the floodlit grounds in London, throughout south east England and beyond.
Thanks for looking and I hope that you find something you enjoy.
Ian Hughes, May 2016.