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It is simple: because ProgressivE-Zine will not be the usual street photography magazine.
The Hardy-Bannister Chronicles
Here, published for the first time, is the private record of an on-going collaboration and friendship of two distinct street photographers: Batsceba Hardy and Robert Bannister. One is a reserved Italian, who can read and write English - yet does not genuinely speak the language. The other is from the United Kingdom, a natural raconteur who has never met a stranger.
The common terra firma for Hardy and Bannister is a shared passion for street photography, and this led them to create Progressive-Street, a narrative project
that has quickly attracted top-flight talent on an international scale.
Additionally, the Hardy-Bannister team has taken their vision beyond the launch-point of a standard Facebook page, and Progressive-Street is on the move with a dazzling and substantial on-line site, featuring articles, features and portfolios of both established and up-and-coming photographers.
And yet Hardy and Bannister did not meet until October, 2017. This is their story.
Part One - Scene #1
Hardy (in Milan): “I ran out of the house, I did not
want to be the first, and I did not want to be late.”
Bannister (in East Yorkshire): “New York, London, Milan and Paris are the fashion capitals of the world. Other cities try to join this trendy entourage, but it would really be ruining a good cliché.
I decided to visit Milano, not only for it’s appreciation of fashion, design and all things beautiful, but to meet Batsceba Hardy for all of the above. Okay, and maybe take a few photographs along the way. Milan is also known for its high-end cafes, eateries and coffee. A hub of tourists and every day laid-back folk. A street photographers dream.
The morning arrived to make tracks for this beautiful city. I had the timetable perfectly planned to arrive at Manchester airport with an hour to chill. I was dropped off at our local small town station, on what was a typical cool, misty, typical dank British morning.
I had one airport-sized bag, carrying my two Fuji cam- eras and apart from an extra shirt and few socks, what I was wearing. A tatty Panama-type Akubra I bought in Brisbane, finished off my touristy attire.
On the platform that morning, were all the commuters and wage-slaves, still zombified, desperately trying to become human again, drinking attractively worded swamp water. Maybe coffee ...
An announcement came over the speakers, “the train to Manchester has been delayed by half an hour and you will now have to change at Huddersfield.” Okay, 30-minutes to chill, I thought rather anxiously.
With my camera always in hand, I wiled away the time snapping bemused commuters.
My intent was to document my travels to-and-from as well; often you find these to be the best photographs. I zipped through the Manchester airport like shit through a goose. My half hour to chill had turned into one minute before gates closed. My airport checks had turned into a comedy film, in double quick fast for- ward. A few beads of sweat plink plonked into my on- board ordered coffee.
I arrived to a warm afternoon in Milan, straight from plane to a waiting bus shuttle. This took me onto Mi-
lano Central. The central station was the first hubbub of interesting transient characters. Indeed, I had to tell myself to leave and get to my planned accommoda- tion. Must be there by 8 p.m. Plenty of time, I thought. Half an hour later than planned, I merged from the metro stairs to the accommodation. It was then I dis- covered why I had to be there by eight. The owner commuted from the nearby mountains, and residents would not be allowed entry after eight.
‘Fancula!’ being the first Italian expletive I learned.
I did find a dorm hostel for the night (ah, the fun of travelling), but it turned out to be a bit of serendipity. I met some lovely fellow travellers, a few of which I photographed.
Hardy: “I arrived at the Colonial bar with my heart beating ... and I found myself in front of him, so typi- cally English and smiling: the famous Robert Bannis- ter, the photographer with whom I had decided to start the Progressive-Street adventure.”
Bannister: “The next day, I met the lovely Batsceba Hardy in the Colonial Cafe.
Hardy: “A hug, a smile, a coffee, some embarrassed looks, and the alchemy started.”
Bannister: “We exchanged pleasantries, sampled the delicious coffee, and then set about exploring the city. Always so much better under guidance, I have to say. The city houses the painting of The last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, in the church of Santa Maria Delle Grazie. It has the Duomo, one of the largest cathedrals in the world. It has the largest opera house, The Teatro alla Scala, so is most definitely a city to visit.”
When Napolean came to these lands, he declared it the capital of the Kingdom of Italy.
And why not....
Hardy: “I had in front of me a photographer who was not afraid to be seen: armed with a tripod, a bag for the objectives and two Fuji bodies, one hanging from the side like a revolver, but tightly closed with a pad- lock.”
Bannister: “Of course Batsceba Hardy being a distin- guished artist herself, it was lovely to compare styles.”
Part Two - Scene #1
Hardy: “We had taken a few steps, and Bannister stopped suddenly, crouched on the ground, set up the camera on the stand and he waited for someone in- teresting to enter his field of vision.”
Bannister: “We used the metro, tram system, and sam- pled the delights of the city. Of course being a tourist destination, most people were content if you clicked away, no matter how close you honed in.”
Hardy: “He had identified a billboard ...
From that moment I did not take long to realize that we were two completely different photographers.
I am a solitary transparent soul and even if I go around with a Nikon with a telephoto, people almost never seem to notice me, on the contrary, Bannister is so bold, in the midst of the flow of people.
And it was precisely this that made me decide that I would spend those three days documenting a street photographer at work.”
Bannister: “My style tended to be methodical and ob- vious in a touristy manner. Batsceba, I called the ‘ghost’ due to her grace, and shooting from the hip. Shooting with soul and capturing stories.
I learned a lot from watching a fellow artist, and I can definitely recommend it. Of course when people rec- ognize and appreciate your individual style, you are a success.
Part Three - Scene #1
Hardy: “I showed Bannister the areas that I love most of Milan, obviously not all, because three days would not have been enough.
He shot and I shot him and sometimes his own subject, obviously, I managed to do some autonomous shots. I moved as if I were his shadow. Always invisible.
At the end of our experience, I concluded that Ban- nister is a patient and scrupulous photographer. He loves to observe people and give back everyday life with an ironic and romantic look.
The language of friendship has been established be- tween us, made up of looks, smiles, winks, holding hands”
Bannister: “Milan has and continues to produce some brilliant street photographers. Some worth a mention being Diego Bardone and Eolo Perfido contemporary. Mario de Biasi being more vintage.
There was a language barrier in speech, but none in the face of art and beauty.
Sometime a look is all it takes.
One life, one street and a half a dozen coffees ... Batsceba Hardy did a personal sitting for me.
She hardly said a word, but her eyes just would not shut up ...
Her art, her beauty, her soul is just the same.