It’s very easy to overlook what’s right in front of you. This disregard of what’s easily available was the inspiration behind photographer George Muncey’s series Lonely Cloud: a comprehensive overview of life in modern-day Britain.
Lonely Cloud may well focus on the characters and communities that populate the British isles, yet this wasn’t always what George’s envisioned. “Most of my favourite photography stems from the tradition of The Great American Road Trip,” he explains. “Last year I managed to get myself out there, and drive from New York to Los Angeles. The trip was great, but my photos weren’t. I came back feeling pretty empty. I was just photographing scenes that were reminiscent of my favourite photographers, I didn’t really have anything that I could add to the conversation.”
George consequently turned his lens on his home country, transferring the tradition of road trip photography to his heritage as a means to better understand his identity. The photographer started off shooting the locations and people close to him. But he soon expanded his network, mapping possible routes and destinations that would take him across the British Isles. “There was a lot of googling, random finds on social media, and a fair few interesting places came from shows like Country File and The One Show,” George tells us. Although organisation was a key component of Lonely Cloud, it was often the case that one chance encounter would lead to another. The result is an organic study of contemporary British identity. With his soft, noninvasive gaze, George’s images offer an honest portrayal of the people and places he has met and photographed over the past few years.
When asked about his most memorable meeting, George shows no signs of hesitation. “By far the wackiest encounter was with Captain Beany (legal name) in Port Talbot,” he recalls. “I was there to take a landscape of the town from a nearby hill. While waiting for sunset for better lighting, we decided to go on Trip Advisor to see if there was anything to do. We ended up coming across ‘The Baked Bean Museum of Excellence’, which is housed inside of Captain Beany’s apartment. I don’t think I’ll ever meet another person with baked beans tattooed on their head instead of hair, and I think that says it all really.”
It is, in part, George’s openminded, inclusive and curious mindset that has produced Lonely Cloud. In the social media age, where people allegedly spend 24 hours of their week staring at their phones, George hopes his photographs can inspire homebodies to get away from their screens and out of their houses to reflect on the world around them. “I think the most valuable reward from making this work has been the newly found connection to Britain,” he says. “If just one person sees my photos and decides to get out and explore their own country, I’d consider that a success.”