John Fontana on his images of Silsden

In 2003, I retired from over 30 years of General Practice in Silsden. Visiting patients at home was a significant part of my working day, sometimes in winter totalling eight or more each day. I would attend with my traditional leather Gladstone bag (of which I was very proud) containing my tool kit, containing amongst other things, my stethoscope, my equipment for measuring blood pressure, and specialised torches for looking in ears, throat and the backs of eyes.

Home visiting is almost a thing of the past, but unlike telephone and Facetime type interviews of today, it gave an opportunity to see patients in their own home surroundings, and to learn more of the problems they faced day to day.

I had early on in my working career spent some time interviewing and recording conversations from the older residents of the town. Sadly, they were lost in the process of moving from house to house.

Anyway, from my home visits, rather like a postman, I developed a pretty detailed knowledge of the streets and alleys of Silsden.

Many of you will be aware of the enormous amount of housing development all around the town. I decided to spend some time photographing some of the older parts, and what you are about to see are some of my favourite images, favourite in the sense that they capture some of the atmosphere of the town as I used to know it.

Most of them are shot on a digital Leica Monochrom camera. The square format images on taken on a Rolleiflex T twin lens film camera with Ilford SFX 200 black and white film.
Many of the images to me have a timeless quality, as if they were taken in the late 19th or early 20th century. So much changes while some things are frozen in time.

This is a project that could be extended to photographing people in their work and play. Since Silsden is only 3 miles from my home, this is something that could prove even more rewarding.

Photographs capture a moment, but strangely, they can tell a story that has unfolded over centuries.