The World of GlassWeegee (NSFW)

(A.g.’s note: Some of the photographs in the article are for mature audiences only. Viewer discretion is advised. Words by A.g. De Mesa. Interview and questions by Eric Kim. All photographs are the respected copyright of Dougie Wallace)

orig_blackpool_last-night-book_1272

Through the years of photography, the question weather the photographer is but a mere passive participant in the scene and subjects has been debated through in through. For a person like Dougie Wallace who actively documented Blackpool, witnessing how England’s generation is growing up in a place where Lads go to get hammered and ladies let go of their inhibitions, can we argue that the photographer itself is merely an observer? Or perhaps the mere presence of the photographer brings about a certain personality or performance in the subject since they know they are going to end up in a photograph somewhere?

 orig_blackpool_2012-coppers-knee-book_6280

Dougie Wallace is known for his moniker, Glassweegee. Straight shooter, hard worker, and a storyteller among many others. One can throw many superlatives as to how he does his photography due to the energy of his images and the work he puts in making them. He isn’t out to make a political statement but somehow, his observations of activity on the streets show the situation of the place where he is in.

 

orig_shoreditch-exhibition-i-paid-for-it_4699

orig__pill_pop-shoreditch-exhibition_7351

The use of flash has always been questioned in street photography, but Glassweegee’s implementation is not meant to shock. Like how one of his heroes his moniker is based upon, he uses the flash as a tool to illuminate his scenes. It makes it informative rather than distracting. He wants to bring about the reality of what he captures in its full high contrast glory. There is a sense of absurdity of what you have just witnessed. It is fully manifested in his book about Stags, Hens, and Bunnies: A Blackpool story. A man’s genitals covered in candy, a woman holding a balloon penis, and someone puking in full color. The shock value is not the act blowing someone’s face with light but rather the thing itself that you just saw. It seems that it would take a lot of balls to do so but he does it mostly by simply interacting with the people he photographs. In his own words:

 “I talk with my ‘subjects’ I get to know them. I’m not afraid of becoming part of the narrative, where it helps me get the shot, the action or more than likely the expression of emotion. My shots come from becoming part of the scene. I take pics with my instincts and intuition using a bit of psychology and sometimes my physiology and body language. I prefer to be open and direct, I am not a photographic ninja.”

orig_blackpool-2013-swizzlers-book_756

orig_blackpool-2013-drunk-not-blind-book-1_8800

orig_blackpool_2012-sick-boy-new-book-new_118

If Parr’s England is boring, mundane, and middleclass- Glasweegee’s is Young, energetic, and letting it all hang loose. Perhaps in a generation where the mantra is “You only live once” there is no future because the present is the only thing that matters. A far cry from Parr showing the  decadence of British life. This shows his other technique to capture their images: “Half the time they’re too caught up in their shenanigans that they forget I was ever there, which as a photographer is a pretty ideal situation.” As he says regarding the conditions he shoots in.

orig_blackpool-2013-puddle-book_5525

orig_bite-shoreditch-exhibition_144

orig_blackpool-2013-friendship-selfie-book-2_4140

So what if we took him out from the places that  he has come to know? Would the subjects react differently or is the presence of the photographer really puts on a performance?

Take a look at his photographic essay shot in India titled, Road Wallah (An upcoming book).

orig_bombay-_jan_2013-wild-man_3106

orig_bombay-_jan_2013-sweat_4249

orig_bombay-_jan_2013-one-eye_4801

orig_bombay_jan_2012-laugh_182

The frantic energy still exist in how the frame is filled but this time, it is not about “YOLO” but the tight space of a densely populated city. The cabbies trying to navigate the nooks and crannies just to get their passengers to their destination with their outdated but once Iconic Padmini vehicles. It’s still there and his part of the scene is recognized by the subjects he places in front of his lens. It is still informative and in no way meant to shock but the style is still present.

orig_blackpool_2012-horny-devils-book-3_7342

I’d like to think it is impossible for a photographer not be able to participate in the scene he is in. Perhaps the mere presence of the photographer already bends the actions of those around. It is now a public knowledge of what a camera can do, so why hide? In the words of Dougie himself, “I am not a photographic ninja”. It is quite true because a ninja executes with swiftness. One the other hand, Dougie savors the company of the individuals he is with. He is not dismissive of their current state and I think he savors the actions of those in front of him leading to the images we see. In Glassweegee’s world, we are not pawns for him to photograph but rather equals who can about our business. If we encounter him, we know we are going to be photograph that reveals a folly in our character or a hardship we are going through. So might as well sit back, grab a pint, and try to see the world through the eyes of Glassweegee.

More photos from Dougie Wallace:

 

orig_20120821-blackpool_hair-do-book_7105

orig_shoreditch-exhibition-smoke_7682

orig_blackpool-2013-bridezilla-book_7003

orig_shoreditch-exhibition-foot-and-club-new_139

orig_sleep-shoreditch-exhibition_5548

orig_bombay_jan_2012-sleeping_driver_edit_9910

Follow Dougie Wallace’s work

Website

Books

 

 

Scroll to Top