Free Photographic Omnibus, Now and Then Portraits 1974 and 1995–2000 - Daniel Meadows

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Free Photographic Omnibus, Now and Then Portraits 1974 and 1995–2000 - Daniel Meadows - Cafe Royal Books

"In 1972, as a student at Manchester Polytechnic, I began experimenting with ways of doing documentary work with people, not to them. That spring, in the city's Moss Side district, I opened a free photographic shop where I ran weekly portrait sessions for passers-by. I found this way of working as agreeable as the pictures it produced and made up my mind to extend the project by putting it on wheels. First, though, I needed money.

Much of the next year I spent crowdfunding, securing sponsors and applying for grants but, by September 1973, my Free Photographic Omnibus was ready. At its heart was a 1948 Leyland Titan PD1 double-decker bus which I had bought for £360 and repurposed — somewhat crudely for there was never enough money — as my home, gallery and darkroom. Over the next fourteen months I covered 10,000 miles and visited twenty-two towns and cities. Parked up in shopping centres and on high streets I ran free portrait sessions for all-comers, developing their pictures overnight and giving them prints the next day. I photographed 958 people.

The decades passed. Then, in 1997, my bus pictures were 'rediscovered' by the curator Val Williams who created National Portraits, Photographs from the 1970s by Daniel Meadows, a travelling exhibition which opened at Viewpoint, Salford, and it is from Williams's edit of 110 pictures that I have made the selection published here." - Daniel Meadows

  • 36 pages
  • printed in England
  • staple bound
  • 14cm x 20cm

About Café Royal Books:

"Café Royal Books is the idea of Craig Atkinson, an artist and lecturer. Our first title was published in 2005.

Craig wanted to create a way to make artwork accessible to a wider audience. The solution needed to be small, functional, open to collaboration, affordable, and work independently of galleries. These ideas remain at the heart of what we do.

We’re a small family-run publisher based in England, next to the woodland, dunes, and windswept beaches of the North West coast — we’re always inspired by the vastness, calm and energy of this environment. 

We make weekly publications, focussing on documentary photography linked to Britain and Ireland, printed and bound locally by a small 170 year old printing company. Libraries and museums around the world collect the books, so the work will remain preserved and accessible for many years. Our books don’t need batteries, or screens. We hope they will be used, create conversation and be passed down through family generations."

Explore other titles from the Café Royal Books collection.


On Monday 24th of June, join us for an evening with celebrated photographer Martin Parr, in conversation with Daniel Meadows.

Capacity is limited, so a ticket is required to attend this event.

Explore the other titles in the Martin Parr Collection!

This book will be available for signing at the event, and we encourage you buy it online together with the ticket. If you can’t make it to the event, but would like a signed copy of this book, buy it online now and we will ship it to you after the event.