As a photographer who has been shooting the British & British leisure time for years, I thought I had seen it all , I had not !
I had the privilege to attend The Porthcawl Elvis Convention yesterday and I’m pleased to report that it exceeded its billing in every way, this annual event might look like any other tribute weekend to outsiders but those in the know, know better. Photographically this event is special and has restored my belief that the traditional British seaside town Renaissance is real !
My current project The State Of Britain gave me the excuse to finally explore this event, as the temporary Americanisation of this small Welsh town is loud and proud, although the Coney Beach Fun Fair is a permanent fixture and dates back to the 1920’s . This Welsh seaside town embraced the “American Dream” theme years ago and is literally richer for it.
This event would be a easy shoot for a photographer with a cynical, sarcastic eye who wanted to sneer at the working class “Kiss Me Quick” culture but this would be to miss the point and misrepresent all things Elvis ! Embrace, enjoy and depict the madness that this event celebrates and you will come close to representing and understanding the spirit of this huge crazy themed party . This event is not about nostalgia as the past is re-invented here with its tongue placed firmly in cheek !
As I drove back to my home in England with a huge grin, I tried to reconsider what I had just witnessed / photographed and understand why this event punches way above the sum of its parts ? , then it hit me ! “The people” , the people I met were fun, friendly and warm , that is why this event works ,the local folk make this event unique. This is not “The Last Resort” this is probably the first of many resorts that will reject the trend for aspirational bollocks and re-invent the future by reinterpreting the past and involving local communities as vital assets of tourism !
I’m looking forward to doing it all again next year , until then I’ve got a few hundred pix to edit.
Elvis never left the building, he just relocated to this “Welsh Vegas” !
Keep it real .