By Josh Turner
On any given day, walking the streets of Manchester, you could be subject to an experience of immediate intrusion, just for a moment, after which all quickly becomes calm again.
The hectic nature of a city is a culture dish, cultivating experience and moments within which David Gleave explores the intimacies of daily life through street photography. Born and bred in Manchester, David’s photographic practice focuses on a variety of subjects based in, but not exclusive to, Manchester. From musicians and bands in stylised documentary, to fleeting moments in the street. David’s imagery holds a visual nostalgia that is influenced by the methodology of Samual Coulthurst, a late 19th Century photographer, preserving Ancoats in photographs. Aesthetically informed by nostalgia through the black and white visuals, David’s goal is more sociologically oriented as he aims to create a visual document of our time, curated and affected by his personal experience.
David’s practice spans a variety of forms of documentary photography, all of which evoke a plethora of different emotion. Intimate portraits of musicians in which their personality and stage presence is reflected by the visual style, to documentation of various gigs which embody the sea of people as they respond as a collective to the band on stage. David covers more than just music events, he takes particular interest in the current political landscape through documentation of protests. Yet I find David’s strongest work to be found in the streets, he uses this as a way of clearing his head. A truly instinctive response without any preconceived notion of what will be photographed. Often so reactionary, the imagery is being made before he is totally conscious of these actions; not searching for a reaction from the subject, but aiming to capture their raw emotion preceding their awareness to David’s observation.
As a subject David focuses on capturing Manchester’s culture, contextually seating the work as a relevant observation of our time. It is the consistent visual style underpinned by a methodology that strengthens the work as a whole, particularly as I am affected by the emotional weight carried by the composition. Emotive not with happiness or melancholy, but with the ability to make our observation feel like an intrusion. The photographs are so intimate in composition and subject that it almost feels like a physical invasion of personal space. Our suspension of disbelief is brief as we recover from the trauma of viewing, aware that the moment in the image is everlasting and will not affect us.
David has found success through a hybrid documentary-editorial work with Cabbage, a band that formed in 2015 and were signed by Skeleton Key Records, who granted him unlimited access to document their rise, from playing small venues to headlining UK and European tours and releasing their first album. We can look forward to seeing a collection of David’s work in print as he plans for an exhibition of his music projects, consisting of live, candid backstage, portraits and press shots. There are no details to share for now but be sure to keep your eyes peeled! Otherwise, David can be found on the streets responding to the ebb and flow of the city.