David Hoffman At St Botolph’s In Colour
Contributing Photographer David Hoffman sent me this dramatic set of photographs that he took at the ‘wet shelter’ for homeless people – where alcohol and drugs were permitted – in the crypt of St Botolph’s Church, Aldgate, in the seventies. Readers may recall David’s series of black and white pictures of St Botolph’s shelter that I published over a year ago, recording Rev Malcolm Johnson’s compassionate initiative offering refuge to the dispossessed without distinction.
These colour photographs make a fascinating contrast to the monochrome realism of David’s earlier series, offering a distinctive vision of the same subject that is both more emotive and visceral, yet also more painterly and even lyrical.
“These were shots undertaken as tests as much as documenting the wet crypt. The light was a mix of coloured fluorescent tubes and tungsten bulbs, and the types of film available that were sensitive enough to use in this relatively-dark environment also varied a lot in their sensitivity to different-coloured lighting – all of which made for unpredictable results as I moved around, and the push-processing required gave a lot of grain which cut down the sharpness I could achieve.
In those days, I was keen to show off my technical skills and didn’t really like the effect – so I quickly gave up using colour and returned to black and white. But, looking back at these pictures now, I wonder what I was thinking. I find the colour shifts and graininess quite gorgeous and I regret not taking the idea further.”
- David Hoffman
Photographs copyright © David Hoffman
You may like to take a look at these other stories about St Botolph’s
and explore these other sets of pictures by David Hoffman