The Charm of Working-Class Life: Stefan Byrom

Capturing what you see as a young working-class youth through the lens of photography presents a realness against the plastic of social media.

Stefan Byrom, a young photographer shooting Manchester through “the story of working-class life in modern Britain”, Aiming to show that being working-class "can be admired and not looked down upon.” Started shooting “3 years ago, at the time I was going through some stuff. So it became a way of just taking my mind off things and found that it really helped me deal with a lot mentally.” Like many in the UK, Stefan grew-up working class, “I understand the struggle and the challenges life brings within working class communities. I admire the way we adapt to austerity. Working class towns and communities often have a certain charm and grit you just don’t find anywhere else and I love trying to capture that.” There’s a sense of realness to Stefan’s photography, trying to find the story within each person or place. Today there are tons of photographers capturing ‘real life’, but it’s great to see a genuine working-class person doing it in an honest way.

Not a lot of young people who grow-up being working-class actually like to say they are working-class. It’s something that creates a roundabout approach to the class issue. Stefan is very open to this side of things, which is great to hear. Having been born in Buxton, Stefan grew-up in “Rochdale on the Kirkholt estate.” A place where most of his “inspiration comes from”. Now on a creative road, college however, Stefan “studied to be an I.T. practitioner”. After “three years of that I decided education wasn’t for me, after that I was lost in what I wanted to do with myself.” So, “ended-up trying different things until I came across photography.” Now consistently uploading to Instagram, Stefan has a definitive style. There’s a clearness to the photos which tell so much. It wasn’t till “a friend of mine pushed me to take it a bit more serious” when he started his photography and uploading on there.

Not that anyone needs reminding of the past year, but it’s been a difficult one. So, it’s hard to tell what the future lies, but Stefan hopes to “make a book someday”. One that I’m sure will have as much essence of Britain as his photos on Instagram. For Stefan, “even with the distance between everyone we all seemed to pull closer together when things didn’t sit right. I’m not sure that would have happened otherwise.” Many people briefly talked about social distancing and friendships, “I have made more friends during lockdown, I’m quite an anxious person, so social distancing helped me.”

Creativity holds no certain type of person, and the majority of creatives need more recognition than those that we know exist. So, compiled is a list of creatives who need more recognition;

@jordanmurray96, puts a lot of hours into what he does and makes some amazing work. Also, @sweat_of_the_gods have to shout out the crew also which is @fraserhav who captures like amazing tones and light and then @anthony_chatburn. Fine-art side of photography and very conceptual and also @a.d.ramsell on the social documentary dale boy represent! then you have @c.l.john with amazing poetry and then lastly @zandrarai who’s this amazing illustrator working with all things botanical who I’ve been collaborating with recently to produce a mini-series. we all have similar backgrounds too, so we relate really well to each other.”

For Stefan, some photographers who inspire him, “After Eggleston, Herzog and Guryaert I’m quite inspired by Shirley Baker, John Bulmer and Dougie Wallace.” We can see a lot of these influences in what Stefan is trying to put across, aiming to show “that life still exists in the almost forgotten areas of Britain.” And, “that it isn’t all bad news there’s still inspirational people and a sense of community but also that life isn’t just straight forward for everyone and there is a struggle.” More than a class issue, we face an issue surrounding where we are from. The places we live form the class issue within the UK.

For someone like Stefan, he shows the good and bad and all of the strange in-betweens. It’s important “that they make sense in the grand scheme of things. A lot of my images may seem banal, but they do have a purpose in the sense that they make-up the story of working-class life. I draw a lot of my past experiences growing-up. There’s a lot of nostalgia within my work. But that happens naturally most of the time.” Outside of photography, “I’ve just started growing a bonsai tree from seed it’s taken me nearly two months for a spout to appear. I’ve been skateboarding when I have time, anytime I do get I’m out with the camera, if not, then I’m reading or just looking at photography.”

Below are some images Stefan has included with a bit more background;

The car on fire is a good example of always needing your camera with you because it was just pure luck that I came across it. I was actually going to Morrisons to do some shopping aha which I never do either and spotted it, I ran straight over it was quite a crazy scene but knew I had to take it.

The man in the launderette the portrait was the second time I’d seen him, id bumped into him previously painting chairs outside and we ended up talking for a while he was asking me what I do and things like that, but he loved being photographed. when I saw him the second time, I was like let us take a photo of you inside I want to get the washers aha when I take portraits I always try to take them as quick as possible and capture them in an awkward phase.

The man stood with the coffee in the rain nearly didn’t happen it was the one-time I didn’t have my camera and I was coming back from the shop and saw him stood there, and I thought I need to get that so I ran back to mine and grabbed my camera I think without the rain in the background the photo might not have been as good in my eyes everything just seemed to work out for me I feel like I get lucky a lot with photography.

I highly recommend you check-out Stefan's work:

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