“Quirky, mischievous and thought provoking, Kevin Reynolds is an audacious photographer among documentarians. His pictures, made across the photographic spectrum, always repay a second look.”
Val Wilmer, photographer and author of The Face of Black Music.
For much of his early working life Kevin ‘Rev’ Reynolds worked as a typesetter and typographer. One day, late in 1989, he delivered some designs he’d just completed to a Leeds advertising agency. On display in the reception area were some photographs of jazz and blues musicians by the legendary Leeds born photographer Terry Cryer. Rev was inspired by what he saw that day and within weeks, at the age of thirty-seven he had bought his first camera, a second-hand Pentax. Shortly afterwards he was sent on a business trip to New Orleans by the design company he had just joined as a director. He took his new camera and half a dozen rolls of Ilford black and white film with him. Rev spent the whole of his spare time on that trip taking photographs of the streets and bars of a city that had long fascinated him due to his love of music.
On his return Rev tracked down Terry Cryer and asked if he might show him some of his work. Terry invited him to his home at Little Holland House in Headingley and Rev showed him the photographs he had taken in New Orleans. To Rev’s dismay Terry casually tossed most of the pictures into a bin, but put half a dozen to one side. He then invited Rev into his dark room and printed up the negatives. It was the start of a darkroom apprenticeship and a lifelong friendship. Terry was a veteran photographer by this time and renowned as a master printer by those in the know.
In 1991, Rev started taking the images that would lead to his first solo exhibition at Pontefract Museum early the following year. It was a stunning collection of portraits of people from the Pontefract area he simply called Locals. The exhibition was a huge success.
Later in 1992, Rev returned to New Orleans and with a group of friends made an odyssey through the Mississippi Delta visiting Memphis, Nashville, Birmingham, Alabama and many points in between. He took photos at the house where the great blues guitarist Muddy Waters worked on the plantation, at the place where the Empress of the blues Bessie Smith died in Clarksdale and at Tootsies Orchid Lounge, an old Honky Tonk behind the Grand Ole Opry. He came home with a wonderful collection of images that juxtaposed contemporary America with the fast disappearing old weird America. This resulted in two exhibitions, No Particular Place To Go and No Particular Place To Go II.
These were hosted at the acclaimed Brahm Gallery and at the Yorkshire Art Circus. Rev was encouraged to take up photography full time. He did and had a successful career as a freelance photographer.
Rev’s photographs have been exhibited locally, nationally and internationally, including Madrid, San Francisco and Chicago. At the prestigious Special Photographers Gallery in London some of his blues and jazz shots were on display alongside the work of legendary photographers of this genre; Val Wilmer, Herman Leonard, William Claxton, and his own mentor, Terry Cryer.
Rev is enjoying being retired these days, claims that he’s lost his mojo and that his camera bag and its contents are gathering dust. I’m not on my own in wishing that he’d get his arse in gear, blow the dust away and pick up that camera again. It must surely be time for Locals 2 or for him to get a particular place to go to and bring it all back home again.
Rev would like to thank the following: Brahm, Ian Daley, Dave Foster, Karl Gilbert, Gary Lethbridge, Brian Lewis, Harry Malkin, Les Ponsonby, Kathryn Reynolds, Sarah Reynolds, Richard Van Riel, Felicity & Vince Rich, Paul ‘Fuff’ Schofield, Dean Smith and all the subjects who were willing and especially to those who were unaware that they were beyond his lens.
Very special thanks to Ian Clayton and Denise Pallett for their friendship and for all the time they’ve spent editing and proof reading the text accompanying the photographs.
All photographs © Kevin Reynolds