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EYEWITNESS IN MANCHESTER PRESENTS A PERSONAL VIEW of Manchester and surrounding areas in photographs and words, supplemented by reader messages. Though bigger than many corporate websites, Eyewitness in Manchester is personal in approach and contains lots of author and reader opinion, providing an important opportunity for people to voice their reactions to the photographs and tell their own story.

I began Eyewitness in Manchester in January 1997. My original idea was to fill a gap in the internet market by providing a 500 word weekly news summary with a photograph. I wanted to keep it simple and easy to manage. By summer 97, my weekly newsletter summarising news and events in Manchester was generating a lot of reader responses from all over the world.

I increased the amount of text, the number of photographs, and introduced a parallel '50 years ago' newsletter, summarised from archive copies of the Manchester Evening News.

Eyewitness in Manchester home page Oct 02

My original intention was simply to capture and showcase the city around me in all its aspects and to provide an information service to help people outside Manchester keep in touch with what was happening. What I didn't expect was the powerful effect that my present-day photos of Manchester would have on long-time expats. For them, my photographs are a powerful trigger for memories from earlier in their lives. I also have many readers in the UK.

In June 1998, I was approached by Manchester Online who offered me a contract to produce Eyewitness in Manchester as part of the Manchester Online website. I accepted and produced Eyewitness in Manchester as a freelance contributor. I also like to compare Eyewitness in Manchester to a colour supplement - a picture-based publication-within-a-publication, but this one is entirely the work of one creative individual.

Around 1999 I decided to move away from doing a summary of the week's news - I grew tired of summarising other peoples content. I wanted to focus primarily on the photographs and write a 'mini-article' for each one, presenting them on picture pages on a particular themeI also decided to present Reader Messages on similar pages, illustrated with my photographs. Between early 2000 and late 2002, I completed 83 photo features including reader messages pages. The total number of photos in Eyewitness in Manchester exceeds 3000.

First edition of Eyewitness in Manchester 18 Jan 1997
Eyewitness in Manchester is a good example of how the power of the internet can be harnessed by one creative individual to provide a view of a place which wouldn't be possible using conventional media. Using simple elements - the still photograph and the written word - I have built up what many people regard as a definitive view of the Manchester area.

Eyewitness in Manchester isn't just a static picture gallery or stock photography library. I don't take photographs with commerical use in mind, to fulfil an official brief, to try and secure a sale, help sell a product or to promote the local area for business or tourism. I take photographs to capture my view of Manchester. Every photograph is like a piece in a mosaic, which builds into a comprehensive view. Many of the photos would never win a photo competition or sell for commercial use, though quite a few of them, as well as fulfilling my creative intentions, have been used in brochures, magazines and books.

For me, the still photograph is the prime form of visual representation - more detailed and more permanent than a moving image, more realistic and interesting than computer-generated art, and a creative form that everyone can afford and use for themselves.

All photographs are described by words, separated into fact and opinion. Readers contact me with information and opinion of their own, which I edit and present along with my own picture pages.

Focusing on the world around me - in particular the familiar environment of my home city and region - I discover many interesting and shocking things which might otherwise be overlooked - Destruction of the city by demolition and development, the shortcomings of local government, the erosion of local identity, the degradation of communities and the environment and many more negative things which often go unnoticed.

But I also notice many positive things, such as the inherent visual fascination of Manchester and the north west, with its multiple layers of history and identity, the positive examples of new architecture and development, the achievements and successes of local government, and the resurgence of Manchester in recent years and many more positive things.

In 2005 my freelance contract ended, and I decided to move on to new projects, concentrating mainly on building the content on my website, where Eyewitness in Manchester is now archived.

I'm very proud of what I achieved with Eyewitness in Manchester and I hope that it will remain a prime source of information on the years of reconstruction in Manchester following the IRA bomb in 1996. 107 of my photographs, mostly from Eyewitness in Manchester, were used in the book 'Rebuilding Manchester' by Euan Kellie.

I'd like to thank all those people who helped to make this website a success, particularly all readers who have contacted me with their wonderful messages.

In particular, I would like to acknowledge with great appreciation and great sadness, the help of the late Tony Whalley, who gave me much good-humoured support and encouragement, especially in the exciting early days.

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Best of Eyewitness in Manchester 1996-2002

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