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Creating visual atmosphere with black and white printing

black and white photographic exhibition prints on display
“It is amazing to think that a 35mm photo could be blown up to 2 metres without any loss in image quality." Steve Thornton
image showing fish town worker before the EU changes came in
The Fall of Fish Town is a collection of evocative monochrome images

Grimsby is synonymous with the fishing industry. In the incredible Fish Town collection, photographer Steve Thornton has captured the way of life in the fishing port prior to changes in EU health and safety laws in 1990. He then returned in 2020 as the UK left the EU to document the change.

In 2020, the Grimsby Fish Port has become a high-tech, multi-billion pound global seafood trading port. There is none of the hustle and bustle of daily filleting, storing and trading. But the areas where all this happened up until 30 years ago remain mostly untouched.

“Prior to the laws coming in, the fishing docks was a bustling, thriving industrial ‘town within a town’. 30 years on, there are no people and no soul,” says photographer, Steve Thornton.

It is this incredible transformation that Steve has captured. When the photographs were exhibited at the Humber Gallery in Grimsby in July, it had a huge emotional impact on the community. 

This is an important collection of images that captures history in the making and provides eternal memories of a relatively recently lost way of life.

The relationship between Steve and Epson started with a chance meeting at the Photography Show with Epson’s Business Manager - Commercial & Industrial, Nick White, himself a keen photographer with an interest in coastal life.

“I was absolutely fascinated by this project,” says Nick. “All my life I have lived by the coast and I used to go out with fishermen a lot (despite being allergic to fish!). Epson has a long tradition of supporting artists and photographers and I really wanted us to provide Steve with everything he needed to ensure the success of the project.”

Steve purchased an Epson P-900 A2 printer and has reproduced all the prints himself on Epson PhotoPaper 300gsm. “There is no skill required to use an Epson printer. Just connect it and press print. But the results are stunning!” says Steve.

Nick adds, “Epson uses K3 inks, which includes three densities of black ink. This means our monochrome reproductions are absolutely spot on.”

Steve agrees, “What I see on my screen is exactly what comes out of the printer. This means I can produce digitally printed images that look like traditional analogue. This is perfect for this collection, much of which is set in what looks as much like 60 years ago as 30.”

Epson also provided Steve with 64” prints for the collection from their head office in Hemel. “It is amazing to think that a 35mm photo could be blown up to 2 metres without any loss in image quality. The Epson truly is a stunning printer,” concludes Steve.


Follow the link to see the full story that was in Sign Update issue 204... The fall of Fish Town - Sign Update Issue 204

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