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My inspirational friend and sometime collaborator has been hitting the road through the beginnings of 2017 to capture seaside towns out of season. I too love a road trip and as a huge advocate of travel and remembering a statement I was read: not to spend all your money on photography equipment, save some for travel,  I  was excited to catch up with Jill to see how her adventure panned out and what is in store following her expedition.

Claire Griffiths: How did you decide you wanted to do this project and what inspired you?

Jill Reidy:  I’d wanted to do a solo photographic road trip for a long time but hadn’t really decided the format.  I started looking at some of my Blackpool images and thought it would be good to visit other seaside towns and see how they compared.

 I suppose my inspiration was simply living in Blackpool and feeling as though I wanted to record what it’s like.  As my photography often has a documentary slant, I’ve always felt inspired by street photographers such as Martin Parr and Tony Ray Jones.  I think some if the images I’ve taken on the road trip reflect this.

CG: What were your greatest obstacles initially?

The greatest obstacle initially was the fear of stepping out of my comfort zone.  The next obstacle was making the video for my Kickstarter campaign.  After that everything seemed to fall into place.

CG:  How did you feel when your target reached it’s goal in record time?

JR:  I was ecstatic! I was totally shocked that the pledges came rolling in so quickly.  Then I felt really humbled that people believed in what I was planning to do.

CG: How did the project change when you first started it?

JR:  My initial idea was to shoot images of decay and ‘faded glory.’  I had a fairly fixed idea in my head of the sort of pictures I wanted to get, but as the trip developed I found I was seeing lots of different aspects to each town and my images began to reflect that. When I exhibit I hope to show a balance/contrast between the decay and the beauty of each town.  

CG:  What was the hardest part of organizing the trip?

The hardest part was probably coordinating everything.  Once I’d worked out the order of the visits and the distance between them and then booked the Airbnbs I felt I could breathe a sigh of relief.  The actual driving and photography were the easy parts!

CG:  How do you feel now its completed?

I feel proud that I overcame my fears and achieved what I set out to do. I also feel it gave me a great opportunity to think about a lot of things as I went on my journey. I’m excited about completing and distributing the rewards for people who pledged money through Kickstarter.  And I’m looking forward to getting the book published and the exhibition organised.

 When I look at the images I think how lucky I was with the weather.  I drove through mist, driving rain and hailstones and yet, in every town I was treated to the most fabulous skies and fantastic afternoon light.  It made me realise that Blackpool was no better nor any worse than the majority of the towns I visited.  I love Blackpool and I’m proud to promote it.

CG:  What was the highest point (emotionally) of the trip, greatest memory or experience of the trip?

JR:  There were a few emotional high points. One of them was on the second day, when I wasn’t feeling too good.  I drove through dull, grey weather and rounded a bend to see a brilliant rainbow. I saw that as a good omen. 

Other high points were spending time with family at the beginning and end of the trip, and staying with my aunt in Worthing.  We went to a monthly Artists’ Breakfast where I met some really lovely, creative people, who were interested in my trip and shared ideas with me. 

I have lots of great memories, from the people I met, new friends I made, and also some of the fantastic views I managed to capture.  It was also very emotional to see the responses to my blogs and realise that people were there with me, cheering me on.

CG:  What is next for you?

JR:  I’m missing my daily blogging so that might make a reappearance at some point.

 Next big job for me is completion of the project by sending out the rewards, publishing a book and organising an exhibition. I’m hoping that everybody who supported me along the way – not just by pledging money but also by encouraging me to get started and then to continue even when I wasn’t always feeling great – will attend the exhibition so I can thank them all properly.

 All in all, this has been a fantastic experience, and one that I’ll never forget.

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