Chris Mear: 'Coalville Photographed' video

As you hopefully remember, we followed Staffordshire University graduate Chris Mear through his journey of releasing Coalville Photographed into the world. We helped Chris release a new video every fortnight to coincide with the zine he later produced to complete the body of work; you can find out more about the series and watch the videos via Chris' Photograd Spotlight.

We'd now like to bring you a video of the Coalville Photographed zine and lead you to where you can buy your own copy or a print. Find out what Chris has to say about the work below.


Last year I released a series of short films on this blog. Made over the course of 15 months, they observed an amateur photographer and carer, called Graham, as he moved through the post-industrial landscape of North West Leicestershire every other Thursday morning. Shortly after releasing the final film I published a limited edition zine combining these films with a series of photographs made by both myself and Graham.

The remaining copies of Coalville Photographed are now exclusively available from DegreeArt.com. And to celebrate this I thought I’d offer you a short preview of the zine alongside a few of my favourite outtakes.

Chris Mear: The Final Video From Coalville Photographed

Coalville Photographed, By Graham Ellis
A Series of Short Films By Christopher Mear

Unfortunately Chris' video series has come to an end. We've really enjoyed sharing the new episode every fortnight and we're now really excited to get to work creating a Spotlight to showcase his accompanying zine. In case you've missed the series or would like to catch up, you can find all the videos here. A massive thank you to Chris for sticking with us and allowing us to share his journey through the creation of this body of work. You can also find out more about Chris in our interview with him here.

The Charnwood Hills are too striking a feature to be passed over without especial notice. When seen obscurely they appear like an extensive range of mountains, much larger than they really are. When approached, the mountain style is still preserved, the prominences are sharp, distinct, and most of them pointed with rugged rocks. One of these prominences, Bardon Hill, rises above the rest: and though far from an elevated situation, it probably commands a greater extent of surface than any other point of view on the island. It is entirely insulated, standing, in every way, at a considerable distance from lands equally high. The horizon appears to rise almost equally on every side: it is quite an ocean view, from a ship out of sight of land. The midland district, almost every acre of it, is seen lying at its feet. The Sugar Loaf, in South Wales—the mountains of Shropshire and North Wales are distinctly in view—and the Derbyshire hills, to the highest peak, appear at hand. An outline, described from the extremity of this view, would include nearly one-fourth of England and Wales. It may be deemed one of the most extraordinary points of view in nature.

- T.R. Potter, The History and Antiquities of Charnwood Forest: With an Appendix On the Geology, Botany and Ornithology of the District, 1842

In the days before this shoot Graham and Liz had a series of disagreements, leading to some tension at home. Come Thursday morning Graham was told he can’t use the ‘chariot’ to go and take photographs. This left Graham with the choice of either abandoning the shoot and staying at home, or shooting somewhere within an hours walking distance.

Bardon Hill is the highest point in Leicestershire, standing at 912 feet (278 m) above sea level, but in comparison to the nearby Beacon Hill it seems to gain little attention or interest.

The presence of Bardon Hill was consistent during our journeys around North West Leicestershire. No matter where we ventured the radio mast at its summit always found a way to reveal itself and the hills heavily scarred (by a “Super-Quarry”) west face. Graham has wanted to walk to the summit ever since he arrived in Coalville in 1988. He’s lived, for most of the last twenty-seven years, at the foot of it, but due to the inevitable distraction of daily life, he never quite found the time to make the climb. He currently lives just around the corner from one of several public footpaths leading to the summit, it was really the only viable option for a shoot of any interest this week. So Graham would therefore finally realise one of his ultimate long-standing ambitions. 

This would be the last Coalville Photographed shoot I would film. Although I continued to join Graham for several more shoots, though it was becoming increasingly difficult for him to negotiate the time away, I only made photographs. But eventually, due to the increasing strain of caring for Liz, and finally, the loss of his temporary respite each Thursday morning, Graham was forced into publishing the last Coalville Photographed post, in June 2016. He has however vowed to maintain the page with occasional photographs taken as he goes about his daily chores. 

Dedication, Coalville Photographed via YouTube.

Chris Mear: The Penultimate Video From Coalville Photographed

Coalville Photographed, By Graham Ellis
A Series of Short Films By Christopher Mear

In the weeks leading up to this particular Coalville Photographed shoot, which happened to be on the estate Graham has lived for the majority of his time in the town, he had become increasingly interested, excited and vocal about the online photographic guru, Mike Browne. Graham passionately suggested that I watch one particular youtube video of Browne’s above any other. Entitled How dedicated to photography are you?, this particular video was made following a letter Mike received from a man named Peter:

Hi Mike, 

Does it happen with photography like with music, that you could be a professional and/or great photographer if you start at an early age? Does age matter when it comes to becoming an excellent photographer?

To which Mike delivered a 6 and a half minute monologue about the importance of dedication:

Well the thing is, how much do you want to be an ‘excellent photographer’? Is it something you want to do or is it something you’re going to do? But what’s the difference? Well, I’ve been running my photography business for a long time, and many years ago I chose to turn my hobby, which was photography, into my income, and that’s a whole other story. But part of that was that I wanted to be able to travel and see some more of the world, to sort of experience some of the amazing things that go on out there in the world. But it was always ‘something I’d like to do’, and time passed and the business started to grow and I was having a pretty good time, and I didn’t have to work terribly hard to cover my expenses, and I could go and play on my motorbike. But it was always ‘something I’d like to do’. Then, last year, something happened. My brilliant, awesome, inspiring, funny, witty and incredible Mum, died, in September last year. And it was very devastating, despite the fact I knew it was coming. But something in me changed then, I kind of realised how old I was, I kind of realised that ‘hey, you’re in you fifties now and you’ve always wanted to go off and see some more of the world’. But that’s all it was, ‘I wanted to’. And when my Mum died it changed from ‘I want to’, to ‘I’m going to’… I got dedicated to doing whatever it takes to make that happen.

Last year, I was teaching at a local night school, I was just teaching adult education to a bunch of people who were paying a fairly reasonable fee to come on a photography course… but something that really amazed me was that I would give people some homework to do, which was associated with the lesson that we’d just done, and then the following week, quite a large percentage of people would say ‘I didn’t have time this week’, or, I could see that they’d sort of come home and they’d sort of got half an hour before they’d got to jump in the car because they’ve got to go, and they’d sort of done their homework because ‘Mike might grizzle at them’. Well I don’t care if they do the homework or not, and I don’t mind if you guys do the homework or not. I don’t mind what you do, so long as you’re happy. But here’s the key; if you want to take ‘excellent photographs’ or maybe become a professional photographer you’ve got to do the homework, you’ve got to put in the hours, you’ve got to dedicate some time to doing stuff, you have to get out there and practice and get experience.

Photography’s experiential learning - most things in life are. You have to experience it and get the experience so that you know what to do in a given situation. Much as I would love to be able to put my hand up here and go ‘clip’ and unplug knowledge and then insert it into your head for you - for a fee, of course. Then it would be awesome, but I can’t do that. Wouldn’t that be easy? I wouldn’t have to webmaster the site. I wouldn’t have to keep thinking up new ideas for films, shooting stuff and having poor old Lorna standing out in the cold and rain and all that kind of stuff while we’re making films. The thing is, it’s a dedication thing. So, whatever that means for you…

Watch Mike Browne’s full monologue here.

The camera doesn't do anythingCoalville Photographed via YouTube.