Niall Miller

Fri, 19th February 2021

Words: Niall Miller
Photographs: Niall Miller

Through jaunts through Glasgow, Niall Miller depicts a subtler side of the city with a style leaning on serendipitous compositions and patient scene setting. Almost otherworldly, Niall's picks provide a clear look into how he interprets Glasgow through his love for colour and form.

In this Front Left Reflections, Niall shares five photos that stand out to him from his work and shares tracks that fit the captured moments...

Taken on an afternoon in Govanhill, the low winter light creating shadows and drawing out colours. Looking for colour is how I spend most of my time.

 

Here I was drawn to that blue cast strip of the front window of the car and the shadow of the rear view mirror; instantly forming cinematic visions, immediately contemplating how we are always heading for somewhere or moving away from something. Never still. And obviously, bringing to mind some Bruce Springsteen...

'A vision from some decade before my time. The dress, the hair, the sunglasses…'

I was out walking with the camera one day, this was somewhere between the lockdowns, where we were afforded some sliver of normal life. I noticed this woman walking towards me and she was wonderful. A vision from some decade before my time. The dress, the hair, the sunglasses…

 

The swift thought process is one that is hard to reflect upon and examine but I ran ahead of her to a pub (chosen in my mind I suppose for its aged characteristics) that was a little farther down the street and waited. At the moment she passed the men inside turned wondering what on earth I was doing, but to me it makes me think they have been startled and transfixed by this passing apparition. Capturing her in reflection created this contained piece of life, hazy in its space, of old behaviours of which we’ve been robbed and an attempt to toy with memory and time and place.

This portrait was a chance encounter and was taken during the first lockdown when I was out for my once-daily piece of exercise, with camera in hand. I was walking around the Southside of Glasgow, a little despondent as I felt that I had chosen poorly in my choice of place to visit. Nothing was presenting itself to me, I had barely taken a single image despite having walked a fair distance already. It’s interesting how mental state can influence the work I create (this will obviously apply to many other areas of life), built up frustrations of the time left me seeing nothing of interest.

 

Overcast and gloomy the world and my mind. I was walking around a corner, head lazily down, when I was met by a small group of men who noticing my camera asked if I would take their picture. A boisterous fun lot and clearly proud of their honed physique’s they took their tops off instantly. After photographing one of his friends I asked to take this guy’s photo. Noticing the colours of his clothing I moved him over in-front of these blue doors to serve as a backdrop. Separating ourselves from his friends allowed a quieter moment to be captured, I felt this was more in keeping with the way the world was at that moment. This image ended up being included in the British Journal of Photography’s Portrait of Britain book for 2020. An inclusion which is a great source of joy and pride for me. The image itself also serves as a constant reminder for me that (as cliche as it sounds) you never know what is around the next corner. Sullen in my efforts that day, minutes later I was presented with an opportunity which now I reflect so fondly back upon.

'It’s interesting how mental state can influence the work I create (this will obviously apply to many other areas of life), built up frustrations of the time left me seeing nothing of interest.'

 

This is of a cafe that is near me on the Southside of Glasgow. Since I have taken this photo they have redecorated the interior of the place. Which is a shame. The colours and textures of how it was were lovely. Now, sadly, something more minimal and plain greets passers-by. Here in this image is a reflection of an older couple waiting outside the cafe, they’re typical of who would normally frequent the cafe. I had persisted for quite a while to try and photograph something that reflected on the nature of this cafe, I think I just about achieved it with this image.

 

As I mentioned it saddened me to see this change. I wonder what newcomers may think about the cafe as well as those well-kent to those serving the tea and coffee. Would there be a difference of opinion? Change is supposed to herald an improvement over the way things were, I’m somewhat doubtful of that in all instances and I find people and places fascinating that hold on to themselves in the face of all modern modifications. So this is my document to this wee place I liked walking past and looking in, which will never be the same again.

This is an image that was taken during the UK’s third lockdown. Which I think has proven to be the most challenging. Such a limited life bookended by the infrequent greetings of sunlight. Light and colour is everything to my work and how I see the world, so lessons learned in the past have served me well. Persisting in my walking efforts I found myself in an area of Glasgow I had never visited before, I went with a friend and it was thanks to his recommendation that we ended up here. There is this small group of modern flats that have this wonderful orange fencing, rounded hedges and matching orange front doors.

 

When I look at this image I find it hard to believe it’s Glasgow. It feels too exuberant or playful. I love the contrast of shapes in this image. The varying squares and rectangles of the door, windows and brickwork met by the cheerful forms below. And what sort of person lives here? I’d love to know. For me it also illustrates the moment we find ourselves in…locked down, blinds turned down, a shadow cast over the door impeding any opening. There is potential and fun out there, even at our doorstep but so much of it is off-limits. And what will our own personal worlds be like when we can once again step outside the boundaries we have set ourselves in this time?

Find more of Niall's photos & follow his work on Instagram.

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