Birmingham Pride Parade 2023, Birmingham

This was my first Birmingham Pride parade. I am not sure why I had not been before, and I suspect that I thought that it would be somewhat predictable. Far from it. The whole parade was a wonderful colourful spectacle with so many happy people around. These happy people were not worried about having their photograph taken either, which makes the event a photographer’s dream. Birmingham at the weekend has become a busy place. More so for the weekend of Birmingham Pride as there were many Coventry City supporters around making their way to Wembley. From Moor Street to Centenary square, there were street events starting up connected to the Pride Festival. The atmosphere was electric.

Birmingham Pride Parade 2023, Birmingham
Pride car.
Birmingham Pride Parade 2023, Birmingham
Welcome to Birmingham Pride.
Birmingham Pride Parade 2023, Birmingham
Birmingham Hospice.
Birmingham Pride Parade 2023, Birmingham
Paul and his VW camper.
Birmingham Pride Parade 2023, Birmingham
Pink is the word.
Birmingham Pride Parade 2023, Birmingham
Colourful.

The day was going to be a warm one and already the sun was strong with no clouds in the sky. I had brought along my polarising lens as I was anticipating strong shadows with the bright light.  In Centenary square, people were already congregating and the Exchange which is now part of the University of Birmingham was one of several meeting points. There were several colleagues from both the University and the dental hospital and people were looking forward to marching in the parade. The police and the fire service were taking part and both vehicles and people were already decorated with rainbows and colourful signs. Birmingham Hospice had a float and they said this was the first time they had taken part.  Many other well-known companies and institutions were lining up their vehicles.  Some of the decorations were very imaginative.  I met Paul who was taking part by driving his prized possession. His VW camper was adorned with rainbow decorations, and he was happy to pose in front of the vehicle. As you see, I crouched down to get a dramatic picture. There were several other colourful people that I took portraits of in the square.  As it was getting close to the start of the parade, I made my way down to the Town Hall to get a good vantage point of the parade as it headed towards New Street. 

Birmingham Pride Parade 2023, Birmingham
The head and heart of the procession.
Birmingham Pride Parade 2023, Birmingham
These tapestries tell a story.
Birmingham Pride Parade 2023, Birmingham
Detail of the Pride tapestries
Birmingham Pride Parade 2023, Birmingham
It’s a sin.
Birmingham Pride Parade 2023, Birmingham
The pride possession.
Birmingham Pride Parade 2023, Birmingham
There were so many colourful flags.
Birmingham Pride Parade 2023, Birmingham
Everyone was very keen to have their photograph taken with the flag.
Birmingham Pride Parade 2023, Birmingham
Rainbow umbrella.
Birmingham Pride Parade 2023, Birmingham
Passing by Victoria Square.

The next hour consisted of picture taking in one location and then moving swiftly forward to take more pictures further along the route. I was told by a friend that the turning point at the end of New Street at Waterstones Book shop was a good place for pictures. When I got there, I cheekily went into Waterstones and made my way up to the second floor. It was relatively quiet and so I placed myself behind the lift, where you could look out over the New Street junction. I got some good pictures of the parade from this vantage point.

Birmingham Pride Parade 2023, Birmingham
Going down New Street.
Birmingham Pride Parade 2023, Birmingham
The view of the flag from Waterstones Bookshop.
Birmingham Pride Parade 2023, Birmingham
The Pride Drums
Birmingham Pride Parade 2023, Birmingham
The lead bus.

After several more pictures, I then moved to the walkway that overlooked Moor Street Station. This was a good lookout on the parade as it went under the tunnel towards New Street. I moved around the road between the Primark store and Moor Street station taking many more pictures.  I caught up with the University of Birmingham participants.  There were also many dancers, free chocolate from the Cadburys float and people who were just happy to be photographed.  The Drag Queens were very interactive with the crowd and very entertaining.  

Birmingham Pride Parade 2023, Birmingham
The University of Birmingham.
Birmingham Pride Parade 2023, Birmingham
The Guild of Students of the University of Birmingham.
Birmingham Pride Parade 2023, Birmingham
The NHS and pride.
Birmingham Pride Parade 2023, Birmingham
IKEA were there.
Birmingham Pride Parade 2023, Birmingham
The sign says it all.
Birmingham Pride Parade 2023, Birmingham
It was a hot day, I am just saying this as you look at this colourful dress.
Birmingham Pride Parade 2023, Birmingham
Just look at me.
Birmingham Pride Parade 2023, Birmingham
Pride people with Selfridges in the background.

By now I was getting tired and I was needed back home. All the pictures that I had taken had to be processed and as I found out later, I had taken quite a lot. The time had been well spent.  Sorry about the large number of photographs and you will be saturated with colour but that was the story of the Birmingham Pride Parade.

Birmingham Pride Parade 2023, Birmingham
Happy people
Birmingham Pride Parade 2023, Birmingham
Happy people.
Birmingham Pride Parade 2023, Birmingham
Colourful buses.
Birmingham Pride Parade 2023, Birmingham
Blowing bubbles

Reflections – the colourful parade is a great celebration of the LGBTQ+ community in the City of Birmingham. I was so pleased to experience the atmosphere and see all the people who took part. A big thank you for those who let me take their photographs for this blog.

Birmingham Pride Parade 2023, Birmingham
The Pride flag in the Underpass leading to New Street.
Birmingham Pride Parade 2023, Birmingham
Being interviewed.
Birmingham Pride Parade 2023, Birmingham
Everyone wanted to be photographed.
Birmingham Pride Parade 2023, Birmingham
Everyone was getting into the spirit.
Birmingham Pride Parade 2023, Birmingham
Proud.

More details of Birmingham Pride Festival can be found here.

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Black and White Architecture, Birmingham April 2023.

My challenge for this week’s 52 weeks project was black and white photography. As I was in Birmingham for my research work, I took the opportunity to wander the streets of the city looking for pictures of buildings. Armed with my trusty Fujifilm x100v, I stepped off the bus at the O2 arena stop. On the opposite side of the road, there are new high raised buildings going up. All are aimed at the residential market. These skyscrapers are going up all over and the city looks unfinished or going places depending on which way you think.

Black and White Architecture, Birmingham April 2023.
28 floors with 154 residential apartments being built on Essex street.

My next stop was the square area of buildings that house the Holiday Inn, 3 Arena central and the Alpha Tower. Many shapes, angles and lines as the tall buildings are all clustered together. The Library of Birmingham and the Town Hall were also the subjects of my study on black and white architecture. Finally the rain, which had been falling heavily all day, got the better of me and soaked through, I headed towards Snow Hill Station for my train home. I still managed to get a few pictures of the Snow Hill skyscrapers.

Black and White Architecture, Birmingham April 2023.
The edge of the Alpha Tower.
Black and White Architecture, Birmingham April 2023.
Clustering of building lines.
Black and White Architecture, Birmingham April 2023.
The Radisson Blu in Black and White!
Black and White Architecture, Birmingham April 2023.
Surreal reflections of the Library of Birmingham.
Black and White Architecture, Birmingham April 2023.
Tram stop in front of the Town Hall.
Black and White Architecture, Birmingham April 2023.
Tram passing by the Snow Hill Buildings.
Black and White Architecture, Birmingham April 2023.
Three SnowHill

My processing was a mixture of simple black and white or enhanced work with Silver Efex. The results were interesting and I was surprised that I captured so many buildings in different ways. I reflected all this was done without the need to photograph those iconic Birmingham buildings of the BT Tower, the Rotunda or the Cube. I will probably give the ones that I missed the black and white treatment another time. Meanwhile enjoy the ones that I have in this blog.

Black and White Architecture, Birmingham April 2023.
A conversation outside Birmingham Town hall.

If you enjoyed this blog then how about a splash of colour with your architecture.

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UoB Exchange IgersbirminghamUK

The University of Birmingham has a major economic impact on Birmingham and the West Midlands region.  The University educates students, is a major employer, a research leader in all sectors and a gateway bringing in global connections that benefit the city. Even though the University has a beautiful campus at Edgbaston, a physical footprint in the city centre has long been on the University’s wish list.  The old Municipal Savings Bank began to look an interesting project.  Especially with the location of the bank on the new look Centennial square.   

Produced by the University of Birmingham

The former Municipal Bank is a Grade II listed building and has historical links with the University.  Joseph Chamberlain was founder and first Chancellor of the University of Birmingham.  Neville Chamberlain, the son of Joseph Chamberlain was behind the building of the Municipal Bank on Broad Street.  It was first opened by Prince George in 1933 and has a long history of underpinning the wealth of an ambitious city.  However, the bank closed at the turn of the century and the last 20 years has seen the building empty with no tenants. It was famously portrayed as the AC-12 base in the BBC series ‘Line of Duty’.  The iconic safe deposit boxes in the vault were used in a Chanel advert amongst the various roles that the bank filled in these barren years.  In 2018, the University negotiated a long lease of the building with Birmingham City Council and the renovations began.

I was fortunate in my University of Birmingham role to see these renovations firsthand in October 2019 before the pandemic.  During my visit, I took a series of pictures on my iPhone.  I had no idea which room I was photographing, although I remember the vaults where the safe deposit boxes reside.  They are so interesting to see.  Rows and rows of metal doors with numbers on them.  One can only begin to imagine what was contained within them.  The building was being gutted and there was so much to do from floor to ceiling in each room.

UoB Exchange
Banking floor

Fast forward to October 2021.  Hasan Patel who is part of Communications Team at the University of Birmingham invited me to coffee at the Exchange after his Marathon Run. (Follow Hasan on Twitter to learn how to sponsor him on his running diary). We spent an enjoyable couple of hours putting the world to right.  Hasan introduced me to the University team at the Exchange and we visited several rooms in the building. 

Not long after my visit with Hasan, IgersBirminghamUK announced an Instameet at the Exchange.  Immediately I signed up and went along.  This Instameet is a friendly collection of photographers.   We were given access to all areas including the Board room and the former bank managers office which I did not get to see on my first visit.  The other interesting feature is the balcony where the bank manager opened the doors and looked out onto the banking floor to check that the bank was running smoothly.  During the Instameet, this was a favourite spot for all the photographers.

Whilst we were in the vault, we were also given access to a utility room where many of the safety deposit boxes were stored.  Now many of the boxes are placed strategically around the building and are a feature of those rooms which are used as teaching spaces and meeting areas.  This basement room had many of the old boxes and proved to be a fantastic place to take photographs.  There were still some stickers remaining and on one of the boxes the notice stated that this box could only be opened in the presence of a solicitor.  Once again one could only imagine what was kept in these boxes over the years.

We finished the tour and adjourned to the Distillery Pub next to the Roundhouse.   This is another interesting place to visit and includes a wall mural of a canal horse painted by one my favourite street artists, Annatomix.   The Roundhouse was used to care for the canal horses that pulled the boats and has been renovated as a historical place of interest. There is even one of the horse stables on view.

This was a day taking pictures of historical buildings that have been brought up to date in a city that is rediscovering its roots and moving forward.  Thank you to the team at IgersBirminghamUK for organising the tour and The University of Birmingham for opening the Exchange for this Instameet.

I have also included a blending of the old and new photographs in two of the rooms to show how the building has been modernised between my two visits.

Pictures taken with iPhone 11 and 13, camera Fujifilm x100v

If you are interested in joining an IgersBirmingham Instameet then please follow them on Instagram. An account of a previous IgersBirmingham Instameet at Moseley Market is also available on my blog.