Canals of Birmingham - worth capturing on film or an eyesore?
It is said that Birmingham has more canals than Venice. However, think of Venice and you think of romance, gondolas and Venetian balls. Think of Birmingham and you think of… well, very little. So is this because the canals are an absolute eyesore, or are they actually worth photographing? Should Birmingham do more to become a little Venice, or should they just give up?
Whether or not Birmingham actually has more canals than Venice is something of a discussion point. What we do know is that there were 174 miles of canals in Birmingham by the middle of the 18th century. This would have been more than Venice at the time. Now, however, a large proportion has actually disappeared, leaving only 114 miles of navigable water. That’s still a lot, but perhaps not as much as Venice.
Those who walk the towpath have the opportunity to see not just Birmingham, but also all the surrounding towns. That is certainly a perfect opportunity for some beautiful photography as it doesn’t just show 15 entire miles of improved canals (for safety and nicer walks), but it also means you don’t have to take a boat.
We know that the canals have been partially responsible for the development of Birmingham as a city, and for the Black Country as a whole. It helped to develop a range of different industries in the area and had it not been for these, Birmingham would probably have been nothing but a small village, if that.
Birmingham will never be Venice. It was never, nor will it ever be, a city of art and culture. It is not romantic, but rather industrial. You don’t want to go through a canal in Birmingham on the front of a gondola with your loved one. For one, the weather in Birmingham doesn’t really allow for that sort of behaviour.
However, perhaps we should also stop romanticising Venice. It is, all things put together, a very dirty city with a sordid history. The Venetian balls, now so popular and emulated across the world (think of the Rio carnival and Mardi Gras in New Orleans), was actually a punishment for those people who were masked every day of the week, getting involved in orgies and criminal activity. Birmingham isn’t like that, so perhaps it is actually better than Venice. It certainly is worth going over and taking a few good shots, even if it is just for fun. If you are interested in architectural photography, talk to Paul Arthur, an architectural photographer in Birmingham. Paul is located at Paul Arthur Photography, The Fireworks, The Old Fire Station, 68 Albion Street, Birmingham, B1 3EA. Call: 0121 4 050505. Or maybe you're looking for an established corporate photographer like Seven Star Photography?