Photographing Dundee before it changes

Back in June 2013 I embarked on a joint project with a very talented singer/songwriter/musician and close friend. Nicola Madill has grown up in Dundee and still lives there today, because of this, as well as here being one of my favourite models to work with she made the perfect collaborator.

Dundee’s £1bn waterfront project will see parts of the city vanish. This stunning photo shoot captures what will be lost.
— Nora McElhone, The Courier
Nicola Madill Dundee shot by Space21 Photography & Media

Our project became a front page feature in The Courier's Weekend supplement. Follows a series of extracts from that article, some key shots and some narrative from me around the background to the shoot.

The history of this starts with my passion for David Bailey photography, and a conversation Nicola and I were having about a particular shared favourite of both of ours - his iconic We'll Take Manhattan shoot in the 60's with Jean Shrimpton who then went on to be his muse and later his wife. Bailey's shoot captured in a magical way the juxtaposition of the raw Manhattan streets and the fresh edgy fashion that was just emerging at the time. The idea to pay homage to Bailey and create a similar story board which also documented the significant change and regeneration of the city of Dundee felt natural to us.

At first glance, it would be hard to put a timeframe on the collection of pictures that Crieff photographer Dave Jack and Dundee lass and musician Nicola Madill have created. With a definite nod to the effortless 1960s style and raw urban glamour that David Bailey captured in his photographs of Jean Shrimpton on the streets of Manhattan, many of the buildings captured have already been demolished or will eventually come down in the redevelopment of the Riverside.
— The Courier

We knew that finding the right locations for the shoot was all important. Nicola's local knowledge proved invaluable here. As well as the obvious Dundee landmarks, she was able to take me to some hidden gems.

The derelict building in the slideshow above lays between Broughty Ferry and Dundee and has been empty for years. It has an imposing presence and gives a real sense of the urban decay we were trying to document. 

Spex Pistols in Johnstone's Lane has a real retro vibe and made the perfect location for the Bailey shot of Shrimpton in an arcade.

And the teddy in the shot (that's so important to the recreation of Shrimpton holding her bag and teddy), well it was 'borrowed' from our son Sonny. Keeping it in the family once again!

Nicola Madill Dundee shot by Space21 Photography & Media

The Tay rail bridge

features prominently recapturing the spirit of Bailey's 1960s work.

The Courier

The following story board shows our images in relation to the David Bailey shots from back in the 60s. We were keen to draw on the messages that Bailey and Shrimpton were creating in their shoot so similar placement and staging was very important to us.

Inspired by perfection.

Inspired by perfection.

Nicola Madill Dundee shot by Space21 Photography & Media

Cowgate Removals

This was a doorway that we felt told a story of Dundee in years gone by.

The Keep Left sign that drivers will recognise from joining Riverside from Magdalen Yard Road became a surprising feature shot.

This wasn’t in the original plan to shoot but we drove past and thought that it was such a good focal point, it was a spor of the moment decision. We jumped out of the car and SNAP, SNAP, SNAP! We did hear a few toots. After all, there I was, all dolled up in the middle of the day in the middle of Dundee in the middle of the road!
— Nicola Madill
Nicola Madill Dundee shot by Space21 Photography & Media