Through the lens: Trafford lecturer reveals photographic ‘time machine’ is key to understanding complex world

By Annabal Bagdi

Capturing a moment that within an instant could disappear forever is an ancestral trait that one Manchester-based photographer is nurturing and passing onto the next generation through his work at Trafford College.

Marc Provins grew up against a backdrop of photographs, cameras and darkrooms in a small Gloucestershire village.
With both his father and grandfather regularly snapping the world around them Marc’s inevitable desire to document life through a camera lens began when he was just a teenager.
Marc explained: “I’m compelled to take photographs, I can’t stop! It’s not a phase; this is something I’ve been doing since the age of 13. 
“I can trace photographers in my family all the way back through the twentieth century so it’s obviously in the blood!”
After leaving home at 17, the well-travelled photographer lived in Cheltenham, Birmingham, Stoke and Belgium before settling in Manchester in 1996.
A photography lecturer and course leader at Trafford College, he has been sharing his passion with budding snappers for 13 years.

CONTRAST: Iconic American landscape in Manchester
Seeking to find beauty in the most ordinary of objects, Marc’s love affair with photography helps him explore what Manchester has to offer.
He said: “Photography is my way of understanding the world around us.  The camera is a little machine that stops time and allows me to examine the world in suspense.

“For me it also provides an opportunity to simplify the world by concentrating on and framing specific things.”

Armed with his trusty Olympus OM-D camera, Marc rarely plans his daily snaps choosing instead to rely on his instinctive nature.
Upon reflection, projects frequently emerge and develop when reoccurring themes or a picture that sparks a particular thought or feeling are spotted.
“The mundane is never actually mundane and holds the key to understanding the bigger things,” Marc explained.

STRIKING: Plant silhouettes against a pink dusk sky
“By looking at and eventually framing a simple subject, quietly observing the unnoticed, it is possible to start to unravel the complex and cluttered world we have made for ourselves.”
Recent work has seen an increasing focus on his South Manchester home and the nearby area around Trafford Park.
Europe’s first and largest industrial estate once encompassed thousands of acres of land but this former green space now exists as industrial plots.
Marc decided to embark on a quest to seek out blossoming hydrangea plants during the summer of 2012 as part of his pH6 project.
He explained: “I walked the streets of the area wrapped around Trafford Park, documenting the small domestic front gardens that were the main pockets of nature left in this area once so green.

URBAN JUNGLE: Hydrangeas spilling over a garden wall
“This imposing plant led me on a tour of the streets, hunting down pink and blue creatures, the intense colour of the hydrangea offering a kind of hope to city dwellers, fleeting as it might be.
 “Though I suppose some people would think it was strange to photograph hydrangeas dangling over garden walls,” he conceded.

Marc staged his pH6 project in Arles, France last July after being invited to participate in group exhibition Spreads.
A little closer to home Marc shared an internet-based project as part of the LOOK/13 Liverpool International Photography Festival.
A former recipient of the Association of Photographers’ Student Photographer of the Year Award, Marc was also shortlisted for Best Personal Blog at the Blog North Awards last year.
Speaking of his achievement he said: “I’m pretty proud of my blog as it involves bringing writing and photography together which I’ve had to work at.
“I enjoy sharing my perspective in life through my photographs and writing my blog and so I hope to continue to do this while growing myself as an artist.”

For more information about Marc and his work visit

Pictures courtesy of Marc Provins, with thanks

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