May 23

A Vision Realigned

I spied a chance to spend some quality camera time in an environment utterly alien to me with a vision of crafting some grungy monochromes. It was just gone 7:30pm and I’d dropped my two daughters off at the Manchester Arena with a promise to be back by 10:30pm to meet them after the Brian Cox show.

Both they and I were excited. They were in for a great night, and so was I. Parking up in the Northern Quarter on the recommendation of my youngest who knows about such places I took myself off into the underbelly of the city. My simple plan came together as I found my way to the river that oozes through the centre just beyond Deansgate.

Always wanting to work with a definite theme to prevent overwhelm or aimless wandering I decided to capture rebellious nature alongside urban depictions of nature, playing them off each other. I was shooting on my Olympus Pen F and visualising the images in very contrasty monochrome.


As the night fell I steadily made my way back to the Arena ready to meet my girls who were buzzing about the show. 10:35pm.

24 hours later and the scene in that very same spot was tragically different. I woke to a text off my eldest alerting me to the explosion and was immediately consumed by so many ‘what-ifs’.  ‘What if the bomber had visited a night earlier’ being my first thought. My life could well have been taking a very different course today.

My creative work helps me plot a way through such dark moments, keeping me sane(ish), and this morning as I began to give time to my Manchester images I couldn’t bear to see them in black and white. Colour kept flooding back from the trees, the lights, the softness of the water, the darkening sky. I began to think of the folk who I’d interacted with in many small ways for those 3 hours, the people who make Manchester. I began to sense the common thread of sorrow and shock that now unites us all.

Gratitude and Colour

However my overwhelming emotion is one of deep gratitude. My daughters are alive and well and can continue to explore their lives in full colour. My heart goes out to those families who aren’t so lucky. The dads and mums, brothers and sister, grandparents and friends who won’t see their lost ones again. Those who won’t get to feel the joys and the concerns of having children loose in the world.

Manchester in colour. Lovingly defiant, deeply sorrowful, soothed by nature’s breath.

About the author 


Jason has been a photographer all of his life and successfully carved out a career as a professional editorial photographer and writer working with a wide range of publishers in the UK and beyond.
He spends much of his creative time working on personal projects and helping other creative photographers get more from their calling.

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  1. The colours are beautiful and a fitting contrast to the darkness of the following evening. We will remember in sadness those who lost their their lives and trust they now walk in beauty.

  2. So glad that your girls are safe and well, Jason, and thank you for your amazing photographs. What a strange synchronicity that you were there the day before. As you say, though, others were not so fortunate 24 hours later and it shows how vulnerable we really are as life can change dramatically in seconds. We need to cherish every moment and each other. Love, light and healing to the city of Manchester, to those who lost loved ones and those injured.

    1. Thank you for your comment Jill. Yes we were very fortunate and I too have a sense of the value of every second of life.

  3. Dear Jason.
    The ‘what ifs’ are so frightening, but thank God that you and your family are ok and safe. Your photos are amazing. The colours and images are so soft, peaceful and tranquil, just the opposite of the tragedy which has happened. I am sure it will touch peoples’ hearts to be able see a real, true reflection of Manchester’s soul.

    1. Thank you Margaret. The city was so vibrant, but in a calm way. I’ve not been into the centre for a very long time and not after dark for many years. The outcome of the images was very definitely coloured by the tragedy of last night.

  4. Thank the powers that be your girls are safe. Gave me chills just to read that and you must be turning inside out reading the horrific news this morning. Your images are, as always, a vibrant view of the world, full of life and beauty and they are a fitting tribute to those who live through this tradgedy.

    1. Thank you Anne. I’m just so grateful, however this is tempered by the hurt of so many folk who weren’t so fortunate.

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