'Quirky' Black Country captured by Yam Cams photography – BBC News

By John Bray
BBC News, West Midlands

Amateur photographer Kelly Hadley was walking around her part of the Black Country at the start of lockdown, and not feeling particularly inspired.
But then she stumbled across a football goal and a supermarket trolley and submitted her image to a Black Country photography project called Yam Cams.
It now features in a book and is about to go on display in an exhibition.
She said: "I was out for a walk with my camera over the Oldbury fields, and I was looking for new ideas for a project.
"I hadn't had any new ideas for a while, I had hit a creative block.
"I came across this trolley with beer cans in it in the middle of the goal and it just made me laugh.
"I quite liked the satire of this image and I thought it summed up the area perfectly.
"It was super quirky so I couldn't help but submit it."
Kingswinford-based artist Tom Hicks created Yam Cams in partnership with Creative Black Country.
Photographers from the four Black Country boroughs – Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton – were invited to submit photographs from their local area.
A book was produced capturing the work of 39 local photographers and 43 images were shared on social media.
And the reason for the Yam Cams name?
"Yam yams is the name that people from Birmingham give to Black Country people," Mr Hicks said.
"I think it might have even been derogatory at one point, but Black Country people took it on board and I think have even celebrated it, so I thought I'd combine it with the photography element."
The project quickly caught the eye of Kelly Hadley and many other photographers – many who were potentially discovering their local areas for the first time in lockdown.
"I thought it was such a brilliant idea – a collaborative photography project for anybody to get involved in," she said.
"It shows a sense of community and the Black Country is such a quirky, historical place with such a rich history and there is so much hidden within it.
"It has such a real and raw natural beauty about it, there is no airs or graces."
She added: "I imagine there is a stereotype or a certain image that comes to mind when you talk about the Black Country. I think this was a great way to instead capture that quirkiness, what makes the Black Country so great and what is so loveable about it.
"What was even more interesting was every single participant captured it differently, through their own eyes. It was fascinating to see the images that came out of it.
"And Yam Cams – what a genius name. Yam Yams with cameras."
Mr Hicks has now been approached by the University of Wolverhampton to stage a Yam Cams exhibition later in November.
And 300 books were published, and copies can now be read at Black Country libraries.
Several hundred images were submitted as part of the project, and the book includes an essay written by Black Country novelist Kerry Hadley-Pryce.
Mr Hicks said of the project: "I think it's a nice record of that period in time, and the book kind of reflects on lockdown.
"You don't need fancy equipment. We pushed the idea that you can use a phone."
He curates an Instagram account called Black Country Type, and said: "The Black Country area is becoming quite popular for photography and people are starting to take an interest in the region.
"It's a place that's kind of been overlooked, maybe, and now it's started to be focused on.
"The thing about Black Country people I think is they're quite reserved. They don't show off.
"There's a quiet pride in the area, and I think if you ask people about it, then that's when they'll start to talk about it."
"A lot of people commented that it gave them a reason to go outside during lockdown," Mr Hicks added, "and we had other people who said it's rekindled their creativity.
"A few people said that it's made them want to get more into photography, so, if nothing else, I think all those things show it's been worth doing."
Details of the exhibition in Wolverhampton later in November will be announced on the Yam Cams Twitter feed.
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