Syd Shelton – New European

Photographer Syd Shelton was one of the architects of the Rock Against Racism movement. He talks to Richard Holledge about what brought it into being and its resonance today. Syd Shelton likes to take his time taking a photograph. He waits, he coaxes, he builds up a rapport between himself and subject before he gets it right. ‘People are very much aware they are on the camera,’ he explains. ‘So I will use 10 rolls of film if necessary until the subject gives me something more and I have got what I want.’ Shelton recalls the example of two skinheads he met in 1979. They were kitting themselves out at the Last Resort, a popular hangout in London’s East End, which sold the tribe’s uniform – Harrington jackets, braces and steel capped boots. ‘They stood against a corrugated fence like a pair of wallies, not giving me anything at all and being guarded whenever I asked them something. ‍