News Story

I walk the streets of Birmingham, my camera is my Confidant and my witness to the things I see and the people I meet. Howdy, my name is Jay Mason-Burns, aka jayjayjjetplane, husband, father, Holte Ender and Street photographer. I am an observer, an urban flâneur, connecting to the world around me with my camera.

A man is carrying a rug over a shoulder. He is turned to look backwards, smiling. A woman next to him is pushing a pushcair, she is also looking backwards and smiling.
New Rug
A man is vaping and the white smoke covers his upper body and face. He seems to be staring at his phone through the white smoke. Behind him is a sign that says: Eat out to help out.
Eat out to help out

I began walking the streets of my hometown a few years ago, recuperating my fitness after a major back operation. As I walked the city I started taking photos, mostly around the canals and city parks. Along the way I befriended other photographers who introduced me to new genres of photography. However nothing really suited my developing tastes. That is until a memorable afternoon out with the super talented Barry Whitehead, who patiently taught me how to take candid photographs of people.

Women dance and embrace in the street while others look on smiling.
Very Merry
Drag artists wearing very bright and colourful costumes smile and wave.
Dancing Queens

I found the whole process exhilarating, shooting on the fly, focused on fleeting moments of city life, funny gestures and coincidences as people passed me by. I was completely captivated by the very ordinariness of what I was shooting, the beauty of everyday life, which is essentially what street photography is.

The silhouette of a small child on a scooter can be see in front of a shop front. Above the shop window it says: Let's fill this town with artists.
Sparks from metal work light up the darkness in the street.
Construction Time Again

When I'm shooting street I zone out, almost forgetting I'm there. I'm the watcher, an elusive shadow in search of stories, wandering through the city always on the lookout for something. Look closely and you might see me, drifting through busy street corners amongst the people there, or enjoying the vivid sights and sounds of a market place where characters come to the fore or even just down the local pub.

A grey bearded man in a turban stands behind the bar of a pub.
Mr Singh
A man is lighting a cigarette, using his hands to protect the flame from being extinguished. He is standing outside the Eagle and Tun pub. He is a bearded man with glasses, and he is dressed in a winter coat and scarf.
Sparking up

If I catch a good image, wow what a thrill, like a shot of adrenalin. It's akin to scoring a goal or winning a bet, it feels so good! And it’s addictive too, once you start capturing images that you’re pleased with you want to capture more and find new ways to frame and compose your images. When my wife Sue and I go out we often indulge in a spot of people watching, making up stories about random passers-by, it’s so much fun. My street images are very much an extension of that, so if my photos can convey a story or evoke an emotion in the Viewer, that’s doubly pleasing for me!

A woman walks by with an umbrella shielding her from the rain. Behind her is a cafe and you can see people seated inside at the window.
Rainy Lunch
A man and a woman emerge from a dark underpass into the sunshine. They are both wearing sunglasses.

I don't really plan what I do, I just lose myself in the City, stumbling upon happenstance events and simple serendipity. This is the beauty of Street, it thrives on the chaotic and arbitrary nature of urban life. However, it can be a double edged sword. There are frustrating days, like Fishing when you can’t get a nibble, there's nothing happening or I'm just not in the mood, it’s like that sometimes, the rough with the smooth.

A puddle gives a perfect reflection of the street above it.
Puddle vision
An elderly man is walking in the street. He is wearing a bright blue shirt and a patterned tie, pin striped trousers, and a tweed overcoat and cap.
Reflection in a pair of sunglasses shows a crowd looking at the Commonwealth Games bull.
Two men are standing close to each other, and a woman is close by behind. The men are looking in different directions and not speaking. It is unclear what is happening.

But, some days I feel blessed, everything just falls into place. The light is good, there's lots of interesting people around and I feel attuned to the pulse of the city. It's a weird thing but I truly believe that you can feel the vibe of a place, and in Brum for the most part I get real buzz from the place.

An elderly man is sitting on a concrete block, holding a hankerchief to one of his eyes. He is wearing a grey jacket, trousers and trainers, a blue short and a green tie.
Dry your Eyes Mate
A couple sitting on a park bench, they are turnbed to each other and their foreheads and noses are touching.
A young woman is looking at her phone, and further back there is a woman who appears to be standing and waiting. In between them are the blurred figures of people walking in the busy area of the Bullring.
Four women are in the street in the city centre, three are on the floor and one is standing. One is holding a bottle of wine and another is holding a full glass.
Aint misbehavin

Street photography is good for my mental health, it gets me outside and helps me forget the stresses of everyday life. It’s my creative release and my humble way of documenting the ever-changing face of my beloved hometown. I’m blessed to be able to capture something of Brum in the 21st century, it feels important somehow, capturing the character of my City’s beating heart and soul, out there on the streets.

Two women stand in a similar high step pose. They are smiling. One can be seen pulling a suitcase behind her. They appear to be outside the train station.
Hot Steppers
In the background a tower block is being demolished, and in the foreground you can see a workman sweeping the streets outside a row of houses.
Sweeping up
An abandoned mattress is propped up against a gate and wall in a street of terraced houses. The shadow of the photographer is captured on the wall next to the mattreess.
Just a shadow
A person's feet can be seen poking out from behind the large foot of a statue.
Put your feet up

Dedicated to my late Dad, Pat the Painter, forever painting the skies blue.