Finding new photographers heading into uncharted territory is always fascinating. This guest post about a London-based photographer reminds me of our 365 Featured Photographers from years gone by!
Photographer Captures Underground Bingo Culture
London based photographer Michael Hess has a morbid fascination with many little explored subcultures that includes hip-hop where he spent two years documenting the underground scene in the UK. But in the last four years, he spent photographing and extensively documenting bingo halls across the UK especially in Worksop, Mansfield and Creswell. He captured the essence and quirky side of bingo along with its unique characters, geriatrics and pensioners alike, and he shed some light to this game in which most people often see as old fashioned and dowdy. This project resulted in a new book called Bingo and Social Club where it consists of carefully sorted out photographs of these halls unraveling the secret world of bingo.
This book contains a collection of photos taken from Regors Bingo and Social Club in Creswell, Top Ten Bingo on Newcastle Avenue, Worksop and The Strand Bingo and Social Club in Shirebrook, Mansfield. After the launch of the book, the photos were also exhibited at the Host and Outside World Galleries last year. This book shows that bingo is a universal game that can be played by anyone anywhere and it is still evolving. Playing a round of bingo isn’t just limited anymore to the confines of a dingy bingo hall and the players on CheekyBingo.com are one such example. Nowadays, anyone can access the game via their smart phones or tablets with just a swipe of a finger and there’s an estimated 60 million users online.
As with Hess, whose influences range from Gerard Richter to Paolo Pellgrin, he fondly tells Idol Magazine his nuances about this classic game, “Bingo is a world that lives inside huge windowless buildings, and that most people never see. I wanted to open it up to a new audience and, as I learned more about the subject, I wanted to show that it’s about far more than gambling. There’s a huge social aspect to bingo. Despite perceptions of it being a game reserved for lonely old ladies, it’s actually a lot of fun and even a way of life for many people (men too!). By combining pictures with overheard conversations and snippets from interviews I hoped to bring this experience closer to people.”