In Focus with Hugh Frizell

Capturing the city in his own innovative style, photographer Hugh Frizell’s images present a mesmeric view of Glasgow in all its urban beauty. Hugh is also a guitarist playing as part of Hippy, whose album was released on Friday. Here, he takes time out to share and talk us through some of his favourite shots… 

I was born in Greenock but have worked all over the world, lived in various places in the UK but now find myself in Glasgow. For the last 8 years or so I have been fortunate enough to be based close to the West End of the city. I’m an engineer by trade but always interested in the creative arts so I’ve played guitar since I was a young boy and am pretty obsessed by music. Whilst never hitting the big time, I’ve managed to play over the years with some great bands and musicians and have played all over the UK. I also enjoy running, painting, drawing and obviously photography.

In terms of photography, I’ve probably always been around a camera of sorts. My late father, William, was a keen photographer and there’s literally boxes and boxes of old family photos and slides still at my Mum’s somewhere. The actual profile pic I use on Instagram for Shugzfilterz is his old Leica which I now own and it is a prized possession to be honest. Even if not worth much, it’s worth millions to me. It was something he always had with him really.

I got into photography a bit more seriously within the last 4 or 5 years – maybe even the age of the cameraphone was the catalyst. Not having to carry a larger camera around and wait for the processing I’ll admit is a bonus, I think. That said, I firmly believe analogue/ non-digital photography is an art and what I do is not really along those lines nor would I compare or put myself into that category or have those skills. I am (for the Shugzfilterz Instagram page and the images you see here at least) totally digital. I wanted to be totally digital and use the camera/ smartphone/ social media angle almost on purpose. That was really the idea – even the Shugzfilterz name is kinda a play on that.

Basically, the aim of any of the pictures I take is to take a good image first and foremost and secondly, if the digital image processing option or even social media ‘filters’ we use now enhance or take them in another direction or style, then so be it. Nothing more or less really. A good meal doesn’t always have to be from a 3-star Michelin restaurant. The photos you see here are a mixture of the street photography I enjoy plus a couple of studio/ band shots I’ve taken this year.

I am currently guitarist for Paul ‘Hippy’ Hipson who is a Glasgow based singer/ songwriter. Paul has been writing and recording an album Behind Every Song Is a Story since late last year and it came out last week (Oct 9th 2020) on all digital platforms. The singles, music and album info are all on his Instagram – we hope people enjoy the music when they hear it.

I play on 11 of the 12 tracks and it was a great experience to be a part of. Working in the studio with Paul meant I could try some of my own Shugzfilterz styled shots and I’ve included a few here. I enjoy mostly shooting in B&W and I think it lends itself to indoor studio/ musician shots well. The pictures here were taken over many studio sessions out at the HQ Recording Studios, Glasgow between November 2019 and September 2020. I really wanted candid and non-contrived shots. I have a thing, as I’ve been in a few of these type of shots myself, that the typical ‘4 or 5 people standing at a wall trying to look cool’ is a bit long in the tooth now. I only tried to get shots of Paul crafting the songs or working on a take and tried to get them as ‘real’ as I could. A lot of the music photographers I enjoy took a similar approach over the more ‘official band pose’ ones usually featured by many.

In terms of the other shots you see here, those mostly combine a couple things I really enjoy to varying degrees of success. Running and Street Photography. I regularly run, albeit I am no Mo Farah whatsoever, still pretty slow even after being at it years! That said, it’s good for health all round so I occasionally combine running with my photographs. I’ll get up early in the morning and go out into Glasgow and try to capture some shots of this magnificent city. I also occasionally run when I visit back home at Greenock and Gourock so sometimes take photos of there too. This year has thrown up some strange and interesting times for many, photography included.

When I go out for a ‘picturehaulin’ run (as I call it) then I’ll not have any pre-conceived ideas about what to shoot – it’s simply a case of running into the city or an area of the city and constantly looking around. I usually shoot in B&W, I feel those also work great in a city or street environment, but I am happy to use colour too. I think if I’m honest, I have a better flair for B&W than colour but everyone sees things differently. The images here are all taken either this year or last year – a lot of the emptiness in many of them can be put down to the early morning nature of when the images were taken – most are from 2020 but the Instagram page has a good few from the last few years. I enjoy taking images that might be classed as odd or obscure but my reasoning is there are many images from the city available already. I like anything interesting, possibly vintage or old and maybe things you’d not see in the official tour guide book.

Simply taking the same type of shots or subjects we’ve seen would be a bit boring, I think. Again – it’s up to others to judge I suppose. Being from Greenock, there was a celebrated set of photographs taken by Eguene Mehat; these were taken all over the town in the late 60s and capture a huge amount of detail and change in the town I grew up in. Whilst I’m not necessarily doing that with my pictures, I have to say I was inspired by his work and rate them highly and as a huge influence on me.

Thanks for taking the time to view these pictures and I hope you enjoy them
Hugh Frizell

All words and photos are © Hugh Frizell (Shugzfilterz) – you can see more of Hugh’s photography and follow his journeys around the city on Instagram. Behind Every Song Is a Story by Hippy is out now, listen below.

14th October 2020