United Kingdom by James O. Jenkins is a brilliant collection of portraits of people (and effigies in some cases) taking part in traditional customs.
Photographed against a white backdrop James Jenkins said: “Each one of my subjects was deliberately photographed outside their natural environment. I wanted to take them away from the ceremony they were performing in, to shoot the portrait on the spot, and equipped with a ring flash, a portable white canvas background or a colorama gaffer-taped to an available wall.”
Having researched the book over two years, James shows just a fraction of the traditional customs that take place up and down the country every year. He said: "I’ve included the ones that I found to be most visually attractive to me as a photographer. My aim has been to capture the culture of annual UK traditions by portraying the main individuals involved.”
These age old customs still bind communities and it is amazing to read about those that have been going for centuries and ones that take place on a daily basis such as the Ripon Horn-Blower in North Yorkshire. I loved reading about this diversity of customs, many I had never heard of. The amount of organisation that must go into some of them is astonishing and I cannot help but wonder what goes on behind the personas in the portraits, how much time do those taking part spend on their act? Is this the highlight of their year?
This book is not just a visual feast but also a great read for anyone interested in local history and social anthropology.
The book is available here.