A day in the life view of 1970s Stourbridge

The images were taken four decades ago, but Myers deemed them unworthy of further consideration then. The passage of time, however, has given him a fresh perspective on the work.
Myers’ latest, Life As It Is, is being published as a ‘b-side’ to that trilogy (also known as the Works), and aims to take viewers through a day in the life of Stourbridge residents in that time.

Black and white photograph of an outdoor garden store selling bird rables and ornaments, which features in Life As It Is by John Myers
Top: Tessa, 1974; Above: Garden Centre, Hagley, 1979. All images © John Myers
Black and white photograph of an empty armchair next to a wastepaper bin, which features in Life As It Is by John Myers
Armchair, 1973

Aside from the odd photograph of a bus or a VW, it’s hard to tell exactly when these images might have been taken. It’s not until Myers encounters Stourbridge residents mid-way through the book that the time period comes alive in the work. Dresses are either floor-sweeping or thigh-skimming, horseshoe moustaches abound, and most tellingly, four cans of lager are £1.12.
“Unused images are the odd ones, the ones that didn’t quite conform to how the world should look or should match a pre-determined scheme,” Myers writes in the book’s introduction. “And sometimes they are that special category that simply ask the question: why did I ever take that photograph?”

Black and white photograph of two people in uniform, which features in Life As It Is by John Myers
Sid and Mary (no 1), 1973
Black and white photograph of a woman in a long dress next to a cat, which features in Life As It Is by John Myers
Woman and cat, 1974

In the first part of the book, portraits are few and far between, but there are gestures at human life everywhere. An armchair sits empty, but the frayed material at its base suggests years of intensive use. Lawns are manicured and decorated, and garden stores are filled with bird tables and animal ornaments ready to line them.
Life As It Is by John Myers is published by RRB Photobooks; rrbphotobooks.com

Black and white photograph of ceiling decorations inside a pub, which features in Life As It Is by John Myers
The Swan, 1973
Black and white photograph of a man sat in an armchair next to a banana plant, which features in Life As It Is by John Myers
Paul and banana, 1973
Black and white photograph of a house next to a gasometer, which features in Life As It Is by John Myers
Gasometer and housing, 1972
Black and white photograph of a milkman carrying a hat, which features in Life As It Is by John Myers
Milkman, 1979

John Myers was born in Bradford and studied in Newcastle, but it was in his eventual West Midlands home that he established his photography practice. The area is the subject of his recent string of books published by RBB – The Portraits, The End of Industry, and Looking at the Overlooked – which are set in the vicinity of his home in Stourbridge during the 1970s and 80s.