Life & Culture

Beautiful Portraits of People at a Northern Bus Station

Jamie Hawkesworth’s new book Preston Bus Station is a stunning snapshot of a very unique place

  • TextTed Stansfield

There’s something very pure about Jamie Hawkesworth’s work, and that’s probably because his process is very pure. Speaking to him, it’s clear that he simply loves to take photographs. There’s no real agenda, apart from wanting to make beautiful pictures. And that’s exactly what he does – whether photographing top model Natalie Westling standing on a cliff wearing the fantastical designs of Junya Watanabe, or everyday folk at a bus station in the north of England wearing, well, their normal clothes.

The latter of which comprises his new book, aptly titled Preston Bus Station. Hawkesworth began shooting at the bus station in 2011, taking photos for his tutor Adam Murray’s project, Preston is My Paris. Two years later, he heard that the bus station was due to be demolished and returned there for a whole month, spending every day (“from 8 o’clock in the morning to 8 o’clock at night”) taking portraits of those travelling through.

Launching tonight with a book signing at Donlon Books, Preston Bus Station is the most complete picture of the series he has made to date, and includes many more photographs than previously (fellow photographer Nigel Shafran advised him to be more democratic in his editing, and to leave more images in). More than simply a photo series, Preston Bus Station is a snapshot of this unique place at a specific moment in time. Here, alongside a preview of the book, the photographer tells us more about this place and why it caught his imagination.

“Preston Bus Station is the centre for the Megabus, so you don’t just get Preston people there but people travelling from the south to the north, and vice versa. It’s great in terms of looking at Britain today. Also, it’s made in a circle – walking around it was a really good routine; it felt like falling into a river current. On top of that, you have this amazing light: cold and north-facing on one side, and wonderful, warm and summery on the other. That contrast is really fantastic. It was a dream for a portraiture project, really. One of my favourite characters is on the cover – this beautiful lad with an afro. I caught him at this moment when the sun was coming through the window and hit the back of his hair. That really summarises the process of walking around the circle and coming across the most incredible-looking kid ever. It’s a wondrous thing of not knowing what you’re going to come across.”

Preston Bus Station launches tonight at Donlon Books and is available to purchase here.