Daniel Meadows, British photographer and documentarist writes about the filming of his reunion with Neville, who he last saw when taking his photograph in 1972.
In 1969, when I was seventeen, I saw a documentary on BBC television, Beautiful, Beautiful. It featured American photographer Bruce Davidson making the pictures for what would become a famous book, East 100th Street, about the residents of a single block in Harlem, New York. Davidson’s project stuck in my mind as much for its intimacy and the generosity that he drew out of the people he photographed as for the photographs themselves.
Three years later, when I was half way through my photography training at Manchester Polytechnic and trying to document something of the city’s Moss Side district which was being redeveloped, I remembered Davidson and what he’d said: “People have an innate dignity and they will set themselves before the camera in a dignified way and they will choose what they will give.” I rented a disused barbers’ shop on Greame Street and began to run a free portrait studio.
Being young, spirited and inexperienced I kept no proper record of who came to my shop but, now that I’ve published the work on the web, people are recognising themselves in the photographs and have started to contact me. The first to make himself known was Neville Davis of Bilston.
Last autumn, Multistory filmed my reunion with Neville and you can see the result here. I love it. It’s full of surprises and, I think, not a little of the intimacy and generosity that I first saw all those years ago in Beautiful, Beautiful. Thank you Neville, thank you Multistory.