McDiarmid’s portrait journey around the UK, entitled Crossing Paths, manages to be both a personal project and a document of modern Britain.
Like any number of good ideas, this one arrived during a stroll. On a winter Sunday in 2011, Niall McDiarmid took the afternoon off from his family and went for a walk. The photographer ventured to the South Bank; he ended up chatting to people along the way and asking if he could take their photo.
So he started heading off elsewhere, to places such as Guildford and St Albans; any town that “you wouldn’t normally associate with a photographic project”.
Influenced by Daniel Meadows, who carried out a similar project in the 1970s, and Joel Sternfeld, McDiarmid took hundreds of train journeys, visited 120 towns and photographed 800 subjects over three years to produce Crossing Paths, his portrait journey around the UK. It manages to be both a personal project – the photographer struck up conversations with anyone he thought interesting, enabling him to capture something of their personality in the portraits – as well as a document of modern Britain.