Up Close with Beth Astington, co-founder of the inaugural Birmingham Photography Festival which will be held later this month
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF
My day job is part of the communications team at Glenn Howells Architects. I’m also the co-founder of Birmingham Photography Festival and co-director of IGers Birmingham (a photography community in the city) alongside Fraser McGee and Martin O’Callaghan, who are both freelance photographers.
HOW DO YOU GET INTO TOWN?
GHA are in Digbeth and I commute via bus from Stirchley.
HOW’S THE COMMUTE?
Frustratingly slow at times but I try to make the most of it. I’m one of those people that’s glued to their phone for the duration of the journey – catching up on what’s going on in the world, scrolling through Instagram and Twitter, getting started on the day’s work, editing photos or doing bits for IGers/BPF.
IS BRUM A GOOD PLACE TO WORK IN?
I moved to Birmingham in 2014 to work at the University of Birmingham. In my experience I’ve found that it’s a great place to work with plenty of opportunities.
I’m a massive tea drinker and I’m rarely without a cup of builder’s strength tea at work. If I’m out and about then York’s always hits the spot. It’s a great vantage point for people watching too.
We have a fantastic staff canteen so I tend to eat there most days. If I venture out I try to visit new places – Asia Asia Foodhall isn’t far and is looking like a contender as a new favourite spot.
Once I have my camera in my hand I’ll go literally anywhere. The only problem is that when you start considering things from a photographic angle you seem to notice so much more which does tend to get in the way of getting places!
WHERE’S YOUR FAVOURITE PART OF THE CITY?
Within Winterbourne House and Gardens there’s an unassuming gate that leads to Edgbaston Pool. Sitting next to the lake is beautifully quiet. It’s hard to believe how close it is to the city centre.
I really like the Vanguard in the JQ as they have such a talented and friendly team. The menu changes all the time so there’s always an interesting new drink to try.
HOW CAN THE CITY BE MADE BETTER?
I think better collaboration would go a long way – there’s a lot of people trying to achieve the same thing but often they are competing instead of working together. Reconnecting the different parts of the city by improving pedestrian and cycle routes and wayfinding would go a long way towards making it less disjointed and more welcoming to visitors.