Brighton people-watching captured in new book

Brighton Folk: People Watching for Sport offers a new book in which Haywards Heath-based photographer Oleg Pulemjotov seeks to capture the essence of the town’s inhabitants.

Oleg Pulemjotov
Oleg Pulemjotov

It has been published by The History Press at £18 and is available in a number of local Brighton book stores, including Waterstones, as well online.

Oleg, aged 35, said: “I have recently moved from Brighton to Haywards Heath with my wife where we now live with our son. I still work for a design agency in Brighton and commute there daily, or at least I used to until the world turned upside down and the whole country went into lockdown.

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“Brighton Folk did not start out as a project, as much as a compulsion. I have always found people fascinating. Having been born in Estonia, shortly before the collapse of Soviet Union, I have experienced first-hand how repressed expression in a society can be when uniformity is encouraged and individualism rejected.

“At the age of 15, I went to study in the US and after graduating I moved to live in London. I was enamoured by the culture and the way people carried themselves here in the UK. Eventually, when I moved to Brighton those feelings were magnified many times over. To me that was the first time I have seen people let go of their inhibitions and let themselves be their genuine selves. Needless to say, far from every person in Brighton is like that and it’s the contrast between the two that I’ve found to be so intriguing.

“Around the same time I had been given my first camera and wanted to capture it all. I took it with me everywhere I went and photographed everyone and everything that stood out to me.

“I think people notice my deeply personal approach when they look at my photos and it’s what draws them to take a closer look and see what an outsider like myself might find interesting in their existence.

“Taking the pictures was the easiest bit. Picking out just 80 out of the whole lot and then putting my thoughts about them into words, on the other hand, were by far the hardest parts in the whole endeavour.

“Every time I look back at this series of photos I experience different feelings. Sometimes it’s the humour that stands out to me, other times it’s loneliness and melancholy, but overall it’s this dignified way of living that I think strings all of my photos together.

“Brighton Folk is an ongoing photography series and I will keep adding to it as long as I have a camera and a connection to Brighton. Whether these new photos will be turned into another book or not is not what’s important to me.

“It started out as a Tumblr blog where it still has its permanent residence . Since then I have also built a stand-alone website for it too. People can follow the developments by going to brightonfolk.tumblr.com or brightonfolk.com.

“I would love for this to turn into a series of books, but would be interested in exploring other subjects. I find it extremely hard to focus on one project and usually have several going at the same time, and I hope that having had this book published will help all of those reach a wider audience too.”

The volume is Oleg’s first published book.

“I have a fascination with words and have always enjoyed learning new languages. However, trying to put my thoughts into words, and especially in writing, I have always found hard. It is largely why I turned to design, illustration and photography as a career to begin with.

“Photography in particular I got into because it is a fast medium that allows me to capture not only events and objects, but also feelings and emotions in the shortest amount of time possible. It gives me a break from drawing and design, which take a great deal of thought and organisation.”