Peter Franklyn Banks’s background in cinema brings a crucial element of storytelling to his photography. His project Cromer Pier documents the pier over several years, with the photographer regularly returning to capture what has changed. “Since my mum moved out to the seaside in Norfolk, I’ve got no family remaining in Nottingham”, the photographer explains. “This project is an attempt to connect with a new identity. As I return every year I see familiar faces and the changes in them; you start to feel like part of that community”. Revisiting a particular subject is a theme seen throughout his work, down to his appreciation for “relationships or community and how they develop over time”. Many photography projects seem to end abruptly, and often you can’t help but long for them to go on, so you can continue following the story and the characters you’ve become so attached to. In this case, “I don’t know where the project ends, but at the moment it feels like I have to keep going back”, Peter comments.
The mood captured by this series is one of honey coloured, burnt-out sunset light — a calm, melodic call to the sea. “The ocean seems to have a hypnotic power over some”, Peter tells us, “they sit, contemplate and reflect”. Due to so many characters reacting the same to time spent at the pier, the atmosphere spreads organically across the series; there is a serene stillness. “Every time I go back to Cromer it looks different, the sea seems to change colour every day”, the photographer tells It’s Nice That. “One day I got sunburnt, the next waves crashed and knocked me over. Every trip seems to yield a slightly different focus”, yet he still looks for scenes where people slot into the same mood.
The project displays smiling faces that gaze back at you as if they were your friends. Peter spends time with those he photographs, telling us, “I’ll have a beer with the fisherman sometimes. A man told me a story of how he lost his finger, ‘I fought with a muck spreader and lost’”. For Peter, the beauty of film photography is in the developing: “It is a beautiful process, and I am addicted to it now”, he tells us. These images, with their velvety sheen, are clearly produced with skill, care and attention.