Photo Essay: Strange Sightings in South-East England 

Stormtroopers, ghostly figures and runaway hens … a new book of photos by Edward Thompson examines the peculiarities of Kent and beyond

Photo: Miss Faversham. Margate, Kent. (2018) (cropped. full image below)

22 September 2021 | The Guardian

All photographs: Edward Thompson

For 20 years I’ve worked as a documentary photographer. I’ve photographed everyday life in England, predominantly in Kent, but also around the country. His forthcoming book, In-A-Gadda-Da-England, is crowdfunding via Kickstarter until 13 October.

 Hen pecked … Stef and his free-range birds. Dymchurch, Kent (2002). Photograph: Edward Thompson

T-sign. Dungeness. (2010)

A cat that looked like Hitler. Ramsgate, Kent. (2019)

Certain themes have revealed themselves within the work: nostalgia, the rise of nationalism, the bizarre, protest, moments of serendipity with strangers and the sublime of the everyday

A man walks into a bear. Margate, Kent. (2018)

In photographing the everyday I believe there is a surrealistic realism at work. To show reality, but at the same time subvert it.

Lupinus, of the wolf. Isle of Sheppy. (2018)

When I photograph I am imbuing significance into everyday life. I look intently. This is what, I believe, conjures the serendipity that I’ve glimpsed over the years. Meeting a stranger can be like meeting yourself.

Miss Faversham. Margate, Kent. (2018)

All the photographs in the book were shot on 120 medium format film cameras. This isn’t an affectation, it’s the way I began working 20 years ago and one of the reasons why pictures taken over such a long period work together aesthetically.

V2 rocket captured by Living Historians. Paddock Wood, Kent. (2006)

As well as photographing everyday life I made photo essays on things that interested me.

Stormtrooper. Herne Bay, Kent. (2019)

There’s a psychological shift that happens when you photograph everyday life, as opposed to a more traditional organised ‘photoshoot’. You end up in a heightened state for an extended period of time.

The Olympic park. Stratford, London. (2012)

At heart, I am a photographer who tries to capture moments. The tough thing with film is not knowing what you’ve got until the film’s developed. It’s like Schrödinger’s film camera – the photographs are both amazing and terrible, and you won’t know until you can look at them.

The Lookout cafe. Ramsgate, Kent. (2019)

The late great Henri Cartier-Bresson once said: ‘You just have to live and life will give you pictures’.


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