mobile: +44 (0) 7828 834731 tel: +44 (0) 1943 870792
mobile: +44 (0) 7828 834731
tel: +44 (0) 1943 870792


Head to Ben Rhydding this February - specifically Shoo Social Media's office - and you might find that you’re greeted by some familiar faces on display in their popular ‘Community Window’. The window is a free space where local businesses can display and promote their offerings, and this month the spotlight is on my business, Capricorn Photography.

A Community Project

Last year, I embarked on a photography project titled Tales From Behind the Counter, or as it’s become more fondly known, Ilkley Tales. In collaboration with Rachel Hatfield and Chris Morris, the owners of Shoo Social Media, Ilkley Tales is a community project which saw me photograph the town’s independent business owners, on location, ‘behind the counter’.


This idea was conceived back in March 2014 when I thought about photographing all the businesses located on The Grove in Ilkley. Prior to this, I’d photographed several street caterers and came to realise how effective ‘telling a tale from behind the counter’ through the medium of photography is. After all, everyone has a story to tell.

As I embarked on Ilkley Tales, my reasons for doing so were twofold:

  1. To celebrate and raise awareness of the self-employed sole traders and small partnerships operating businesses in Ilkley.
  2. To introduce myself, and in turn, Capricorn Photography to other business owners in a way that was comfortable to me (alternative networking if you will!), while gaining more experience of portrait photography in a variety of environments not readily available.

High Praise

I’m pleased to say that Ilkley Tales was a great success! Rachel and Chris did a great job of marketing the project and I was delighted at the number of businesses who got involved.

After a triumphant launch party, the photographs were exhibited at the Ilkley Arts Studio in August. Alongside the photographs sat a transcribed interview with the business owners, detailing how they’d got into business in the first place and what the future looks like for them. This really helped to tell the ‘tale’ of each business.

Poppy Pickering

The photographs went on display again at the Ilkley Art Trail in October and we even got a mention in the Ilkley Gazette! What’s more, it was an honour to receive high praise from some of the businesses I’d photographed for the project…

“Ilkley Tales was a great initiative to see the faces behind the names of Ilkley’s specialist independent businesses and improve consumer awareness. We loved being involved.” - Erica Berry, Erica Berry Flowers

"Being involved in the Ilkley Tales project highlighted to me how many wide-ranging independent businesses there are in Ilkley. It was great to see, through the clarity of the photographs, the faces behind those businesses." - Claire Hundsdoerfer, The Little Teahouse

“Alan's thoughtful and community spirited project photographing the local independent shopkeepers and business people is a great example of art and community coming together.  We loved being able to exhibit the photographs in the Ilkley Arts studio space and as part of the Trail in 2016.” - Sarah Thomas, Ilkley Art Trail

Getting Technical

For those interested in the more technical aspect of the photographs, here’s how I did it…

The Camera:  Mamiya 645 medium format film
The Film:  Fujifilm Pro 400 H colour film
The Speed:  ISO 100
The Lens:  55mm

A few things also worth noting:

  • The wide-angle lens was used to harness a small stretching of the background to help isolate the individual(s) from their surroundings, giving a slight 3D-effect. It was also beneficial given the lack of depth in most of the shops.
  • The aperture was f/4, which provided enough depth of field for the subject to be sharp throughout; yet blur the background just enough to make the subjects stand out.
  • Due to the exposure latitude of the Fujifilm colour film, all photographs were over-exposed by two stops.
  • Due to the weight of the camera and slow shutter speeds, a tripod was used. This gave a clear, crisp image - crucial as any imperfections would show up once the photographs were enlarged.
  • Due to the transportation of equipment and potential time constraints on location, ambient light was used with the help of several large silver reflectors. 
Tyler James Pets

If you didn’t get chance to view the Ilkley Tales exhibition first time around, now is your chance. The photographs will be on display throughout February at Shoo Social Media at 137 Bolling Road and are available to purchase. This isn’t the last of Ilkley Tales though - watch out for a new addition to the Capricorn Photography website coming soon - a dedicated microsite to the project.

For more information about Ilkley Tales or the services of Capricorn Photography, contact Alan Carmichael on 07828 834731 or email