People of Ripon photography project launched to celebrate the people who make our city special

Fiona Natt, 32, whose favourite place is Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal. Fiona works as a histopathologist. Picture: Paul Oldham.
Fiona Natt, 32, whose favourite place is Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal. Fiona works as a histopathologist. Picture: Paul Oldham.

A Ripon photographer has launched a project to capture the uniqueness and variety of people who make the city special.

Driven by an unwavering pride for Ripon, Paul Oldham, 49, is channelling his passion for landscape photography into photographing residents in locations which reflect who they are - portraying their personalities and strengths of character.

Hornblower Wayne Cobbett. Picture: Paul Oldham.

Hornblower Wayne Cobbett. Picture: Paul Oldham.

Paul said: "Through the People of Ripon project I have wanted to showcase the wonderful variety of people out there in Ripon.

"Once you start digging you discover people you didn't know about in Ripon, who are so unique and have so many different and interesting outlooks on life. Placing a person in a landscape really brings that landscape to life and adds something.

"I'm not a professional photographer, but my love of photographing landscapes has really grown over the years. Ripon has so many special people and I wanted to capture that.

"When someone contacts me and asks to take part in the project, I ask them to tell me a bit about them. I ask a few questions for a bit of background, and to find out more about what they do.

People of Ripon photographer Paul Oldham.

People of Ripon photographer Paul Oldham.

"I try and piece together a feeling about the individual, which helps me to choose a landscape to be a backdrop for them.

"When I photographed Lee Rushforth, the Executive Director and Head Chef at The Old Deanery who is a prominent character around here, I chosen Brimham rocks as it is such a strong place.

"He is a strong character who I placed among strong rocks, with a backdrop of the soft rolling hills of Nidderdale."

Paul has also used the People of Ripon project to present and celebrate the special traditions of our city.

He said: "There is a real sense of belonging in Ripon with so many lovely areas to look at. We have such a variety of people, and we also have so many old buildings and quirky traditions.

"For me, liking tradition is something that is part of my character. I photographed Wayne Cobbett, who is a hornblower for the city. The hornblower epitomises the traditions we have here.

"The picture of him in his hornblower regalia is very much a celebration of that - with him standing strong with the obelisk in the Market Square against the backdrop of the Town Hall.

"But this is also as much about celebrating the diversity of our city, as it is about celebrating our traditions.

"There are so many beautiful places to photograph people in, but one of my favourites is the Ripon canal which is always a good place, especially in the mornings.

"Studley Royal is also definitely a place that people have fondness for.

"We have so much to like about Ripon. I love the quirkiness of the hornblower, the pancake racing each year, and the Cathedral is certainly central to Ripon.

"I am also thinking about branching this out to other areas in our district, for anyone else who would like to be photographed from other areas."

Sally Anne Bryan, who has lived in Ripon for most of her life, and now works as a City Development Assistant for Discover Ripon, was photographed by Paul at the city's Rustic Bridge where she holds so many fond memories.

Sally said: "I grew up just around the corner from the Rustic Bridge. It was a space to play out as a child and the schools used it for cross country. It is an iconic place in Ripon.

"I think the People of Ripon is a lovely idea for a photography project, I think it's great that Paul is going for capturing the characters of Ripon, and getting so many true Riponians involved.

"It's really special that he's also showing off our beautiful area."

To find out more about taking part in the People of Ripon project, email Paul: or message the 'People of Ripon by Paul' Facebook page.