article added
Proceed to checkout



Country shows in North Yorkshire have their roots in the 18th century, and quickly became a fixture of summer life for local communities. While much has changed since those early days for those who make a living from the land, the fairs continue to provide a focal point to celebrate rural heritage and achievements. Equipped with his Leica M, Ian Forsyth follows and documents these traditional events, which still take place in large numbers in the north of England.

LFI: How did you come up with the idea of photographing life at these country shows? What is it that fascinates you about them?
Ian Forsyth:
I started shooting the shows around 2012 and, over the subsequent years, found myself returning to them as and when I could during the summer. This simply developed into a long term project that I kept going back to. I went to some of the larger shows, like the Great Yorkshire Show, in an editorial capacity for Getty Images, but I still shot them in pretty much the same way; but many of the shows I only went to if I wasn’t working on another job on that particular day.
I think I’m just drawn to the culture, tradition and history surrounding them, and the dedication and commitment of those attending. It’s a look back at the agricultural traditions of days gone by, where, from the perspective of the country show, not a great deal has changed, and it remains an integral part of summer life for rural communities.

What situations make you press the shutter button?
In the case of the country shows, I guess it’s just when you see an owner and animal having a connection. Something that shows that relationship; maybe it’s something quirky or humorous within a scene, that makes you take the picture but only in a light-hearted way. Maybe it’s when you see an animal doing something you might not see them do every day, that illustrates something different.
The great thing is that, while all the shows are similar in how they’re run and the types and breeds of animals you might see there, you never really know what you might be able to photograph. It could be a portrait, an action shot, a humorous ‘street photography’ style picture; it could be an interaction between people or animals or both, or something totally unusual. Collectively, however, they’re all documentary pictures of this particular stage in the history of the country show.

You took the pictures with a Summicron 28, a Summicron 35 and a Summicron 50. Which among these is your favourite lens, and why?
My favourite lens among those three has to be the 50mm. It’s just a good, solid and versatile lens that allows you to cover a range of situations.Clearly, there will be things it won’t be suited for, such as if you need a wide establishing shot; but as a solid performance lens it’s always worth having one. (Interview: Danilo Rößger)

All images on this page: © Ian Forsyth
Equipment: Leica M9 and Leica M10 with Summicron-M 28 f/1:2 Asph, Summicron-M 35 f/1:2 Asph and Summicron-M 50 f/1:2 Asph
© Ian Forsyth

Ian Forsyth

A former soldier in the British Army, Forsyth spent 22 years in service. He transferred units for the final six of those years, becoming an army photographer and following his passion for the medium. After he left the army in 2011, he began working as a freelance press photographer covering North Yorkshire and the North East of the UK. He continues to work in this capacity to this day, primarily as a stringer for Getty Images News and doing occasional assignments for The Financial Times, The Sunday Times, The Times and Bloomberg. He has covered a wide variety of stories and events, such as political party conferences, the COP 26 Climate Conference, daily life, features and other news stories; including, more recently, events surrounding the passing of Queen Elizabeth II.

Share this page:
via mail Mail
on facebook