David Gleave is a photographer who does not shy away from showing the intricacies of human faces, locking onto a stare – suspending loaded moments in powerful images. An exhibition of his work - featuring iconic subjects such as John Robb, Noel Gallagher, Blossoms and Pete Doherty, as well a selection of street photography taken both in Manchester and across the world – was launched at Cass Art on Manchester’s Oldham Street on Thursday 6 February and is open until 21 February, seven days a week.

By David Gleave

Portraits are David’s particular speciality, as is shown by the selection of photographs on display – approximately 100 in total. Rather than showing faces at a distance or attempting flattery, his photographic approach is distinct and raw, often focusing closely on the individual; allowing stories to come to the surface – the lines on skin, signs of vulnerability, strength, honesty.

By David Gleave This methodology is significantly inspired by David’s own admiration of the late Manchester-born (1867) photographer Samuel Coulthurst, who captured candid images of late 19th  and early 20th century local life on camera. Coulthurst’s approach to showing true life scenes certainly was determined… it is reported he even attempted to disguise himself as a refuse collector so he could hide his camera to take the best street shots![1] His unique images feature areas such as Ancoats and what was the Flat Iron Market area of Salford, showing a range of people at work, their expressions.

According to David:

“Well, having seen Coulthurst’s images most of which were taken in the last 20 years of the 19th century on the streets of Manchester, I was really taken by the fact that despite the photos being over 100 years old he had somehow kept the people alive. The streets and the clothes and the shop fronts and the lack of cars… they all tell  you this is 1890, but when you look at the people’s faces it could be now.

“So in terms of my photography style…  I just wanted to find some people that I could keep alive and hopefully someone looking at my faces in 100 years’ time will feel the same way I felt."

By David Gleave

"I choose largely black and white because it instantly gives the image a timeless feel and makes it a bit abstract. I also like to get close to people as that makes portraits more intimate and makes them have more impact. I can’t be doing with portraits of people who are miles away and you can’t see who it is!”

By David Gleave As well as a selection of characterful street shots of Manchester and the people met there, the exhibition also features portraits taken on David’s travels – including a visit to Sri Lanka, closely considering daily life and culture there.

Photographs on display also feature a range of Manchester musicians and bands, from iconic artists to the underground–– including the likes of The Blinders, Rowetta, Cabbage, Shaun Ryder and Afghan Sand Gang.  All still incorporate David’s unique style and attention to detail; as was clearly appreciated at the packed launch.

Spanning 5-9pm on Thursday 6 February, organised and run with flair by Georgina Robinson, the event (sponsored by Sound Moves UK) was an opportunity to be the first to see the exhibition and even to meet the photographer himself.

Here at Haunt Manchester, we talked to David to find out why having this exhibition now means a great deal:

“I started trying to make my own serious photographs six years ago. In that time I have found my ‘voice’ as a photographer.

“My style though is constantly evolving because I devour photography in all forms, prints, books, online etc. and everything that comes in me also comes out of me.

By David Gleave

“The exhibition is a celebration of the journey so far.

The most difficult part of curating these images was that for every one that you see on the wall there at least two more that equally deserved to be there but couldn't because of space and budget restrictions!

“Anyway I’m so happy and proud of the ones that are there and survived the cull. Even though I’m so familiar with the pictures they look so good mounted and framed on the wall and I’m looking forward to people seeing them over the next 2 weeks.”

The exhibition of David’s work runs until Friday 21 February and is free to visit at Cass Art, 55-57 Oldham St, Manchester M1 1JR – open seven days a week. To find out more about David and his photography, visit his website.

By Emily Oldfield 

All photography by David Gleave