Jimmy Forsyth 1913 - 2009

 Jimmy Forsyth was a familiar figure of the Tyneside streets who created images almost everyday, he appeared to use photography as a social medium, a way to engage with and meet others.. Once Jimmy had engaged you in conversation his photo's would appear from his plastic bag,and he would share his latest works, which were usually 6x4 colour prints from the high street, sadly he gave up black and white 120 film photography due to the the practical and economic problems of his original work flow. The shots I remember usually featured building projects and the builders themselves, he relied on these workmen to buy a few prints which would enable him to buy the next film for his camera.

The thing that impressed me most with Jimmy was that his motivation really was the pictures, he was no photographic glory hunter or great photo technician. The subject was king in Forsyth's photo world and he had a real sense of Documenting change for the benefit of the community. He had no time for pictorial values or fancy compositions, he would stick his subject mid frame on a regular basis. .I believe a local librarian flagged up the importance of Jimmy's archive before The Side Gallery got involved and printed and organised his huge collection that dated back to the 1950's.

Looking through the pages of his Scotswood Road book its easy to see that this is the work of a insider, Jimmy is no class tourist passing through, this is a photographer recording his own working class environment and it is clear that he is known to his photographic subjects.

Make no mistake Jimmy Forsyth had a hard life, although I never heard him complain, I'm not sure if he ever planned to create a historic archive as he always appeared to work one frame at a time with no great master plan or economic certainty.

We  can all learn from the photographic ethos of this simple, humble man.

Scotswood Road by Jimmy Forsyth, Published in 1986 by Bloodaxe Books Ltd