Photographer Chris Harrison shoots street photography that delights with a confection of chance, composition, colour and playfulness.

Photography Chronicle caught up with the Brighton-based creative and street photographer, Chris Harrison, and asked him about the origins of his Sideshow project..

Sideshow is an ongoing street photography project that I started in October 2016. It’s essentially me, going out into my home city of Brighton, without any expectation of what I might find. Although it didn’t start this way, over time it’s become clear to me that it’s an ongoing and unfolding exercise in testing the limits of my curiosity and receptivity. It’s also a kind of deep dive into repetition, too. I mostly walk the same circuit over and over again.

The project was born out of a growing need to do something creative for myself and on my own terms. I’d been working as a graphic design and brand consultant for around 25 years (I still do), and while that’s been great for the most part, the ups and downs of commercial creativity and running my own agency were starting to grind me down a bit. To a certain extent I felt that my creative tank was running on fumes and I needed to step back, recharge and take a leap into something fun and open-ended. Something capricious, a kind of folly.

5.35pm, 10th September 2017, Brighton Pier
1.08pm, 20th December 2019, Brighton
4.55pm, 21st January 2020, Brighton Pier
2.12pm, 5th April 2019, Brighton Pier
11.39am, 6th June 2019, Brighton Pier
4.49pm, 20th November 2019, Brighton Pier
3.46pm, 17th January 2020, Brighton Pier
5.59pm, 25th April 2017, Brighton

I like the idea of the street as a set of ingredients in flux, where the challenge is to make something interesting out of it. That’s really appealing. The fact that you work with whatever you find and attempt to make something out of nothing is really thrilling. I didn’t originally see Brighton as ‘the subject’ as it were, there was more of a motivation to find interesting shots that happen to be taken in Brighton. But as the project’s unfolded, I’m beginning to see that it speaks of Brighton, just maybe not in the way you’d expect.

1.41pm, 25th April 2022, Brighton
3.20pm, 3rd June 2018, Brighton Pier
2.56pm, 1st January 2018, Brighton
3.24pm, 16th October 2018, Brighton
3pm, 28th March 2018, Brighton
4.10pm, 18th November 2019, Brighton
2.29pm, 8th January 2020, Brighton
3.21pm, 13th March 2020, Hove

A good friend who’s seen this project grow and take shape has commented that once you’ve seen some of these images “you’ll never see Brighton the same way again”. I really like that, because that’s essentially what I’m hoping to achieve for myself. I want to see Brighton in a new way, a way that’ll help me to never see it the same way again. That’s the thing that I (mostly imperfectly) try and aim for every time I go out with my camera.

12.50pm, 19th June 2020, Brighton
5.29pm, 11th September 2020, Brighton Pier
1.26pm, 29th June 2020, Hove
2.16pm, 25th September 2020, Brighton
3.53pm, 28th February 2021, Brighton
11.11am, 19th March 2021, Brighton
9.00pm, 20th June 2021, Brighton
3.50pm, 3rd August 2021, Margate

There’s another aspect to Sideshow that comes through quite strongly, and that’s ‘low season’. The part of the year that Brighton takes on a slightly melancholy feel, the way that many bustling seaside towns can feel during the colder winter months. I really like the low season, it can throw up some really interesting encounters with the light, the spaciousness and the more muted colours. The shots that are taken in the winter months definitely have a different tone to them – they’ve got a bit more pathos and I find that a really interesting tone to play with.

1.30pm, 7th September 2021, Brighton Pier
2.10pm, 27th September 2021, Brighton
4.56pm, 3rd December 2021, Brighton
12.52pm, 25th April 2022, Brighton
11.23am, 19th May 2022, Brighton
12.10pm, 19th May 2022, Brighton
6.05pm, 6th August 2022, Brighton Pier
3.51pm, 19th September 2022, Brighton

The photographer

Chris Harrison

Chris Harrison is a graphic designer and street photographer based in Brighton, UK. He walks out of his front door without knowing what he might find – curiosity is his motivation. If he is lucky, he might arrive home having photographed something surreal, something humorous or maybe something graphically pleasing.

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