Photo of the month: Oxford Road bookseller by Dawn Yow

Susie Stubbs

In our new series, we feature new work by some of the North’s most interesting photographers and photo bloggers. First up: Dawn Yow.

“I came across a bookseller along Oxford Road while I was looking for the Hot Bed Press’ Radical Pop-up Print Shop,” says Dawn Yow, a Liverpool-based photographer originally from Toronto. “I gravitate towards book sales like a moth to light. While browsing, I noticed a postcard – with a very serious, almost angry picture of Fyodor Dostoyevsky on the front – on the table among the books. Maybe someone had used it as a bookmark? Maybe a customer had left it behind? Maybe it was the bookseller’s? Who knows?”

It’s a diary in an unconventional sense, a 21st century sense

Yow may be the ultimate creative tourist. She relocated to Liverpool with her partner and young daughter almost a year ago and has been documenting her travels ever since – including a recent trip to Manchester, when this photo was taken. “My photography is generally documentary, a visual diary of my everyday life.” Yow’s style focuses on the sorts of small, seemingly insignificant detail that others overlook. “I’m also very much into street photography, as I love noticing and photographing the idiosyncrasies of people in public.”

The birth of a daughter five years ago forced Yow to take a different tack – “it’s a challenge to remain inconspicuous with a kid who loves running and jumping about,” she says – and start documenting her young family. But adaptation is nothing new to Yow, whose background is in evolutionary psychology and anthropology. She only became interested in photography in her final year at university and, ten years on, remains largely self-taught. “I started with a little point-and-shoot camera and about a year later progressed into shooting with film on an SLR. I still shoot with film and prefer the grainy aesthetic of film to digital.”

Life is about to take another turn, however, as Yow recently started creating embroidered country maps and handmade envelopes, which she sells alongside her photography. “And I’d like to expand into other ‘analogue arts’, such as screen printing and letterpress too,” she says. Her photo blog, meanwhile, is likely to stay. It started out as a means of keeping in touch with her family but “quickly progressed into a way to remember events, thoughts and emotions. I treat my blog the way one would treat a handwritten diary, but it’s a diary in a slightly unconventional sense – a 21st century sense, perhaps.”

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Jen Calleja


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