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CREDIT: Phil Dunbar

Post-Industrialisation Charleroi by Phil Dunbar (France)

where the relics of the past remain


This project started life as a weekend workshop of street photography in Charleroi in northern France. When I arrived and saw the town, I had the idea to do a project on post-industrialization, a subject I am interested in because of my roots in the north east of England. After a short walk around the hotel, I wrote a short outline of what I wanted to show: this was based on the cover image which summed up my feelings from what I saw. I concentrated on the industrial archaeology of the town, the steelworks and surroundings. My idea was to show the effect of de-industrialisation on a town, where the relics of the past remain through lack of money to dismantle them, and of the resulting drop in the economy.

I wanted to make the images in monochrome, so I used a Fujifilm X-Pro2 with 35mm f/1.4 and 18 mm f/2 prime lenses, as this camera can give a viewfinder preview of the monochrome images.

The main lesson for me from doing this project was that the plan or outline was essential to keep me focussed. I knew that I only had one weekend to get the images I wanted, so that focus was important. I was with a group of photographers from the Federation Photographique de France who each had their own priorities, so I had to be aware of them while concentrating on my own project, while moving around with the group. I was lucky that the organiser of the weekend knew the town well, and I quickly learnt that I would need this sort of knowledge in the planning stage to get the images I needed. This sort of project needs more time to do it justice: I only scraped the surface in the time available to me, so once again, more advance planning is needed in future.

The project is complete insofar as the images are made, but I have not yet defined a final photographic “object” for the project: I plan to make a short photobook.

I understand that the town is now being re-energised with funds to remove the derelict works and re-build: this may become the subject of a future project. At the moment, however, we are still somewhat restricted so I am concentrating on more creative photography projects that I can do in the studio.