Great Yarmouth Scooter Rally, 1987 | Photographs by Debby Besford

Debby Besford is an established social documentary photographer with a career spanning over 25 years. Her extensive body of work encompasses both personal projects and commissioned assignments. Throughout her career, Debby has focused on capturing the lives and stories of everyday people, exploring many diverse aspects of British culture and sub-cultures.

“I was born in Great Yarmouth and have fond memories and a deep connection to my hometown. I’ve returned many times over the years to photograph the richness and diversity of the people.”

May Bank Holiday Scooter Rally, Great Yarmouth, 1987.
May Bank Holiday Scooter Rally, Great Yarmouth, 1987.

Photo © Debby Besford, all rights reserved.

Norwich School of Art

“I discovered my passion for photography while studying as an undergraduate. It was during this time at Norwich School of Art that I met Nick Hedges, a renowned documentary photographer, who became my tutor and whose work inspired me to delve deeper into my subjects. Since graduating in the 1980s, I have earned a Master’s degree and pursued a career as a documentary photographer. Furthermore, I have been teaching photography to undergraduates.”

Scooter Rally, Great Yarmouth, 1987.
Scooter Boys, Great Yarmouth Scooter Rally, 1987.

Photo © Debby Besford, all rights reserved.

The Scooter Reunion

The Scooter Reunion is a noteworthy project that I created while I was a photography student. The rally was focused on the May Bank Holiday weekend in Great Yarmouth, where mods, skins, and rockers would come together from all over the UK. They would camp out and zip along the seafront on their Vespas, Lambrettas, or motorbikes.

Subculture

I was captivated by these subcultures and the vibrant energy they exuded, as well as their distinct identities expressed through fashion, hairstyles, and their iconic customised scooters. I also had my own interests with ska music and fashion at that time, which opened my world while being involved as a photographer. Throughout my project, I sought to capture the spirit of these young people, documenting their individual styles, camaraderie, and the sense of community that emerged during these gatherings.

Kissing Couple, Great Yarmouth, 1987.
Kissing Couple, Great Yarmouth, 1987.

Photo © Debby Besford, all rights reserved.

The Scooter Rally was part of the broader social scene that revolved around music, from Soul to Ska to The Jam and The Who. Bands like, Madness, The Specials, and The Selector, known for their distinctive sounds and lyrics, who played at Tiffany’s night club, and the epic Soul Weekenders at Caister Holiday Camp.

Documentary Photography

In retrospect, The Scooter Reunion project, produced during my student years, served as an early exploration of interest in documentary photography and a tool to understand and connect with people. It laid the foundation for my subsequent work, where I continue capture the essence of the everyday people, their lives and the finer details that open dialogue and a visual narrative for the viewer.

Scooter Rally, Great Yarmouth, 1987.
Scooter Rally, Great Yarmouth, 1987.

Photo © Debby Besford, all rights reserved.

Projects

Over the years I have worked on self-funded projects and produced a large body of work which has not been easy. I have exhibited and published a selection of works which include the potteries, factory workers, tea dancing, hobbyists, artistic roller skaters, Elvis Presley impersonators, to name but a few. I want my photographs to provide a glimpse into the lives and experiences of these individuals, shedding light on their unique stories and perspectives.

Gallery

Scooter Rally, Great Yarmouth, 1987.
Scooter Rally, Great Yarmouth, 1987.

Photo © Debby Besford, all rights reserved.

Scooter Rally, Great Yarmouth, 1987.
Scooter Rally, Great Yarmouth, 1987.

Photo © Debby Besford, all rights reserved.

Scooter Rally, Great Yarmouth, 1987.
Couple pose on customised scooter, Great Yarmouth Scooter Rally, 1987.

Photo © Debby Besford, all rights reserved.

Scooter Rally, Great Yarmouth, 1987.
Scooter Rally, Great Yarmouth, 1987.

Photo © Debby Besford, all rights reserved.

Scooter Rally, Great Yarmouth, 1987.
A member of Clangers RSC. Great Yarmouth Scooter Rally, 1987.

Photo © Debby Besford, all rights reserved.

Scooter Girl, Great Yarmouth Scooter Rally, 1987.
Skinhead Girl, Great Yarmouth Scooter Rally, 1987.

Photo © Debby Besford, all rights reserved.

Scooter Rally, Great Yarmouth, 1987.
Camping over at Great Yarmouth Scooter Rally, 1987.

Photo © Debby Besford, all rights reserved.

DEBBY BESFORD WEBSITE

All images © Debby Besford, all rights reserved. No usage or reproduction of any kind without prior permission of the copyright holder.

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