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James Oldham





He’s got the whole world in His hands ...

In His hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.

... The Bible Job 12 : 10

Photo by Ivana Cajina on Unsplash




We interview a local film maker to talk about film, faith & integrity


A true story of new beginnings and a hopeful future

16 WE ARE SURROUNDED BY NATURAL BEAUTY! Exploring & highlighting our town’s stunning landscape



Rochdale as viewed through the lenses of local photographers God is ‘filled with unfailing love’


An amateur photographer with a passion to share his viewpoint Director David Bargh

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Managing Editor Gareth Crossley - 07843 565 155 Copy Editor Rebecca White Editorial Office OPENHOPE Magazine, Champness Hall, Drake St, Rochdale OL16 1PB



26 OPENHOPE Magazine



OPENHOPE Welcome to the fifth issue of OPENHOPE. Why not make a cup of tea, sit down and spend half an hour with us? OPENHOPE’s aim is to share uplifting and positive local content alongside stories of real faith from real, Rochdale people. In this issue, in an effort to highlight the breath-taking beauty in and around our town, we’ve invited some of the town’s most passionate professional and amateur photographers to share stand-out images that they have captured. They display the natural brilliance that surrounds us everyday. We talk with Harry Dobbs, a local photographer with a passion to reveal hidden treasures right on our doorsteps through photography. We also meet James Oldham, a high-flying musician and film maker to explore both the highs and lows



of working in the UK’s busy TV and film industry. While stories hold our interest, the bottom line for OPENHOPE is sharing the news that Jesus Christ is still changing lives in powerful ways, and He longs to change yours too. As Christians, we have experienced the life-changing power that comes from following Jesus. Knowing Him makes it impossible not to share His invitation with you. As always if you are affected by any of the issues that are covered in OPENHOPE or you’d like to get in touch, we would love to hear from you! You can search for OPENHOPE on Facebook, and read digital issues at Gareth Crossley Editor




When he had received the drink, Jesus said,

it is finished. With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. john 19:30

Photo by Harry Dobbs

An interview with Rochdale based FILm maker & Director of Photography

James OldhaM Hailing from Milnrow, James Oldham is the walking embodiment of the word ‘multitalented’. An accomplished musician and international, award-winning film maker, James has focussed his creative eye on his career as a globetrotting Director of Photography. OPENHOPE caught up with James in the stunning Wellington Pub on Drake Street. Having found a comfy corner, we got straight down to business:

So James, what is a Director of Photography?

It’s the same thing as a cinematographer. I tell a story with light. The story is often written by the Director, then I work closely with them to tell it in the best visual way possible. 6


A lot of the job is meeting with people you don’t know yet. The industry is heavily dependent on networks of people, so getting to know the people is as much a part of the job as looking through a camera lens and filming stuff. Most of my work is commercial so we often

have a lot of people involved, all working for weeks and weeks, then I just turn up for a few days to organise what lighting and cameras we’ll need, look after the team of camera, electrical and lighting technicians and make sure everything is on set ready to capture what we need to. I make sure everyone is happy, working to their best and feeling part of the team. It’s creative, but it’s also managerial and sometimes you have to manage tensions and be an active leader. We did a music video recently and we had a team of ten electric and camera people on set so it was quite a task in terms of people management.

So you’ve just arrived here from Media City in Salford, What was the project today, if you can say? I can’t say actually. It’s quite a big project that’s been in the works for a very long time, but if it goes ahead, it’s one of those life-changing jobs. I’m also developing a TV pilot at the moment with a director friend in Prague who I’ve worked on commercials with; we’re just looking at who we need to get on board. There are always a few short film projects going on as well.

Where has your work taken you so far? Wow, I’ve been on set with Jude Law and Colin Firth filming in Manchester, I’ve done a lot of work with the first team at Manchester United – Rooney and Fellaini... I don’t even follow football so I don’t always know who I’m supposed to think is famous. A few friends of mine were filming the signing of Alexi Sanchez, which was a big deal apparently, but I was like – err, I don’t know who that is. On a football job it’s usually five hours of prepping, then they turn up for five minutes, everyone leaves and you go home. I did an interesting job with Lorraine – you know the breakfast TV presenter – it’s important how you represent them, but it’s not important that they are important.

Image © Howard Wilkinson Photography

I just have to capture the moment, but I don’t let that pressure affect me.

What has been your proudest moment so far? I was really proud of a music video we created with a BBC Introducing artist called Toby Samola. We had a great team, a solid concept and the execution of it was smooth – we had a 20 person crew and all our equipment up in a quarry and Tandle Hills in the forest with huge film lights to light the whole forest, but the whole thing went to plan and what we produced was great. Film is a moment that is the culmination of the efforts of a lot of people and a lot of time. When it works it’s amazing.

Do you have a need to create? I’d feel empty if I wasn’t creating. A few years back I was constantly creating, writing music, in and out of studios, experimenting and working with producers. It’s the same with film – I’m always taking pictures and looking for the best ways to communicate creatively. It is who I am, I have to create. I do think every person creates – it’s part of human nature – people have a need to explore, exchange thought and create. Even if people don’t feel ‘creative’ they create opinion, thought – the electricity 8


going around your brain comes out as thoughts and words, that’s creative! We have all this technology we can use, how can you not create?

It doesn’t take long to notice that you are consistently welcoming and gracious. Where does that come from? It’s rooted in my Christian faith. Without my faith I wouldn’t have time for people. My feeling is that I have no other option but to show everyone grace and love. Jesus did that for me, so surely that is the minimum I should do for others. I was brought up by Christian parents and my whole upbringing was grounded in concepts like that, simple principles that say, you’ve been given unmerited grace and love, go and give unmerited grace and love. It’s a perfect truth – Jesus died and has completed everything needed for me to be forgiven and live a free life – If I don’t live in that same way then I’m failing in my calling. That would be the only reason I’m embracing of others. If I didn’t have those underlying philosophies I’d still be creating stuff but I know I wouldn’t have the same temperament and I wouldn’t be rooting for the other person so much, I’d get pulled in to the dogeat-dog world that I work in.



The film industry is a hotbed for ego, and competitiveness. You ‘re succeeding, but you don’t appear to have those qualities. Yes, the industry is well known for being a vicious and cutthroat business. If you don’t look and behave a certain way you just won’t get called back. I used to take part in a lot of theatre and always found myself at the forefront of productions in lead roles, but I just came round to thinking, I don’t have the looks to succeed in front of the camera, I’d better learn the other side of it. It was a conscious choice because 10


I knew how cutthroat it was; I decided to leave that side of things. Behind the lens you can experience a lot of friendly teamwork at times, the ego is generally in front of the camera. Don’t get me wrong; ego was a huge problem for me. I was generally very able in high school and I had a few people pull me up and say James, you’re being a bit big-headed and I was like ‘Pfft, I’m the best!”. Thankfully when I was 16 or 17 I matured out of that and into grace and that didn’t just happen, I made a conscious choice to sort my ego out.

At one point I was on the list to be head boy at high school and when the head of year took the list to the staff room, the teachers wrote a petition against me being made head boy because I was a knowit-all and I got demoted to deputy head boy. I was bright but very opinionated and they didn’t like that. The problem was that I loved it! I knew that had to change.

How does your faith affect your work? The whole ethos and ideology of the Christian faith is intrinsically part of everything. Yes faith is personal, but real faith changes the way you do everything. Faith should leave a positive taste in people’s mouths. Being in relationship with Jesus is the cornerstone of my faith. Christ makes me secure, I don’t have to look for security elsewhere, I don’t have to find faith or strength in myself, my faith and strength are in Christ. It’s reassuring to know that Jesus has done everything

completely and I don’t have to worry or strive any longer.

Where do you want to be in thirty years time? I want to be happy, competent and more intelligent, work wise I want to be effective. I’m not bothered about being at the top of the top – put it this way, probably nobody reading this could name three famous cinematographers. Reaching the top isn’t my aim. I love the benefits of working in the industry without the need to fight to reach the top of it. I get to travel all over the world. It pays well. I get to sit in the cinema and watch people react to the films I’ve made – that’s better than being famous.

You can find out more about James’ work on his Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages. You can also watch his multi award winning short film ‘Ctrl-Z’ on Vimeo.



DIEGO’S STORY I was born in Africa. When I was just a few months old my father left us. When I was ten my mother passed away and I eventually came to England. Without a family I was desperately searching for love and acceptance. I tried to find satisfaction with women, alcohol and drugs, but nothing would satisfy the empty gap in my life. I’d heard about a lot of different religions so I didn’t know if Jesus really was the one true God He claimed to be. I did know that if there was a God, unlike my father, He would accept me. I was low and remember thinking one day: ‘If I were to take my life would anyone even notice? Would anyone care?’ These thoughts became more frequent. When I was 23 I went down to Wales with a friend and while we were there I saw a man carrying a huge wooden cross and I just knew I had to go and speak to him! This man told me about Jesus, who he was and what he offers. This news was life changing and I invited Jesus into my life. I was changed from that day! I now have purpose, I have a reason for existence, I know where I come from and where I’m going. From a life of crime and depression I’ve just graduated from Bible college and am excited about the future God has for me. What he did for me, I know he can do for anyone.



If I were to take my life would anyone even notice? Would anyone care?

We are surrounded

They say a change is as good as a rest. While this is true, the sentiment can leave us looking for ‘greener grass’ elsewhere and cause us to overlook the benefits and beauty of the place we are in. After the most glorious holiday in Cyprus, the drive from Manchester airport is always strikingly green. The M60 must play host to hundreds of conversations in which returning locals exclaim just how many trees there are, how green the hills are... that there are hills! How infrequently we truly value what is always freely available! A friend once reflected on how she had always viewed Rochdale through an historical lens, seeing 16


the town as not much more than a once-great, industrial museum. However on returning from two years living in Romania, she had become arrested by the plentiful, green beauty that now surrounded her – and indeed had surrounded her throughout her life. True, industry has shaped our place, but this iconic seat of co-operation and early-modernity is beautifully framed and softened by miles of unrelenting moor and forest, vale and dale, hill and river. Even the reservoirs – while products of ‘darker days’ – are stunning, and redeemingly beautiful! If nature could make you feel claustrophobic, we would be in serious trouble!

by natural beauty! photograph by rob cunningham

The cynic might sigh that almost all are blind to this natural beauty in a day when we are so consumed by the screen in our hand. But there is a growing tribe in Rochdale who unrepentantly glory in the greens, the blues & the undulating patina of nature that is on our doorsteps. These are Rochdale’s local photographers and their passion is ebullient. Over the past few months I’ve had the privilege of meeting one or two of these rare-breeds and they really are a delight, but perhaps most breathtaking is what they create – although capture is a better description. They see a moment, frame it, save it, present it, then share it.

Browsing through just one of the online groups where these shots are shared I quickly became irritated by the inadequacy of my reactions as I heard myself say ‘wow’ over and over again! The only variation was the often repeated exclamation – ‘that’s in Rochdale!?’ In fact it was this sentence that started me on this little exploration. A good friend posted a beautiful autumnal woodland photograph with sharp beams of sunlight belting through the orange trees along with the tag line:

‘Who would have thought that this was taken in Rochdale?’ OPENHOPE Magazine


And so, the following pages are filled with glorious examples evidence, if you like - of the rare claim:

‘We are surrounded by natural beauty!’ Please understand, this view is not blind or blinkered. Our last issue highlighted the deprivation that exists – and is being tackled – in our town. But there is something powerful, releasing and uplifting in looking up and acknowledging just how incredible our natural

place in the world is. The photographers I have met are not head-in-the-clouds optimists, ignoring the garbage and hiding the bricks. If anything, these are more grounded, well rooted and open-eyed than many others who post images and statements online about our town. And having looked, and clicked, and looked and clicked again, they love what they see! More than observing, they interact. One local photographer, Linda Glossop, is a come-rain-or-shine

dog walker who takes her camera along and shares stunning views of morning mists, calm reservoirs and biting ice-scenes. She finds peace in some of the places that she walks, and shares the details, the changes of season, and the brief appearances of sunsets, icicles, animals and noteworthy weather.

The photographs on the next pages present a tiny fraction of the treasure that surrounds Rochdale.

In all of this, without adding many words, Linda is one of the most positive voices for Rochdale you could find. She has found the treasure on her doorstep, and having found it, she shares it.

You can find more photographs by these photographers and more on the following facebook groups: ‘Rochdale for photography’ & ‘nature photography in Rochdale’

All of the featured photography has been kindly donated, for use in this article, royalty-free, by local photographers, shared from a passion that says – ‘Look at this!’.

photograph by michael walker OPENHOPE Magazine


‘This photo was taken in June at Piethorne Reservoir near New Hey, a place I like to walk my dog as it is much quieter than Hollingworth Lake where I live. I took the photo as I was moved by the near-perfect reflection, not a breath of wind! A perfect reflection only occurs on perfectly flat water, and when you turn the photo upside down it appears almost identical, I was lucky that day. In 2016, my husband passed away and I miss him so much. So now I walk in all weathers and in many locations, but Piethorne always draws me back. It brings me peace.’

BEHIND THE SHOT by local photographer, linda glossop



BEHIND THE SHOT by local photographer, ian moore ‘I often find my locations by searching Google for areas of natural beauty around Rochdale. I’m always looking for interesting or beautiful places. This was how I came across the waterfall flowing through the remains of Cheesden Lumb Mill, in Cheesden Valley, Rochdale. This former woollen mill was built in 1786. Its activities included carding, bleaching and dyeing before it closed around 1898. All that remains today is a single wall which the water continues to flow over 200 hundred years later. Only a short walk from a main road, but hidden from view until you are within a few hundred metres of it, this is one of Rochdale’s hidden gems. The hidden spot in this shot is Carr Wood Waterfall and the remains of another old mill, but this time in Ashworth Valley, Rochdale. Remains of Rochdale’s industrial heritage can be found in a number places within the valley, slowly being returned to nature. I focused on the ironwork in the foreground, framing the water in the middle with the sun shining though the trees in the background. I was trying to produce an image which leads the eye through the scene.’



BEHIND THE SHOT by local photographer, oliver millington

‘This photograph was taken at Calf Hey reservoir in October. I always have my camera with me and stopping on Grane Road on my way home I wondered if there was anything worth photographing. I walked from one end of the reservoir to the other with composition in mind, and snapped off a few shots across the res and the surrounding hills. The weather started to turn slightly more overcast above me and I begrudgingly decided to call it a day. It hadn't felt like a successful venture as so often is the case! On the way back to the car, a couple of local walkers commented on my camera (a rather gaudy Canon 1D) and I explained what poor luck I'd had. The pair were actually on holiday up here and couldn't believe I was struggling to get a photo of anything, and exclaimed how beautiful the area was. I took a look around me from where I stood and realised they were right. The featured photo was taken about 3 metres away from where I had previously given up hope. It simply took a few kind words for me to see the wood for the trees - or at least the photo opportunity behind them. Amateur photographers can fall into a rut of repeating the same compositions, travelling to the same locations, or, like myself, failing to see the beauty of what’s already around them. Whether you’re a photographer or not, take an extra ten seconds to try and see your surroundings with a fresh set of eyes, a different angle, and a positive outlook. It can make a world of difference!’



HARRY DOBBS PHOTOGRAPHY & FAITH Harry Dobbs is a Rochdale photographer with a passion to draw attention to the delicate beauty of nearby nature in ways that are simply not visible to the naked eye: to see what God can see! When I was 13 I won a scholarship to art school and began work as an artist in the ceramics industry, painting roses onto transfers which would be put on the pottery. Later I moved into the printing side of the newspaper industry. Having married a Rochdale girl, my new wife and I moved to Rochdale and I worked on the Rochdale Observer and other local newspapers. Most people thought I worked there as a 28


photographer as I was so interested in photography but my work was all on the printing side. There were opportunities to become a press photographer, one of my friends did it, but I never did. That’s really quite a regret for me. I do regret not following that route. I became quite interested in the photography side of things when I was about 16 after I took my dad’s

camera on holiday. When we came back, being an apprentice in the lytho industry, they offered to teach me how to develop my own photographs. When my dad got home and saw the prints I’d made he went out and bought me an enlarger and built me a darkroom at the bottom of the yard. That’s how I really got into it. I read and practised a lot and as I was working closely with professional photographers I didn’t have any problems understanding the technical side of things – shutter speeds, X stops etc. they were a great help.

that other people seem to miss and I have a few techniques that I’ll use to enhance them to bring out the hues but I’m a purist at heart. I’ll see colours at a point in the sky and I know how to capture it – I might stand there a few hours though. We never had a garden at home, only a backyard, but as an artist I was always painting flowers and roses and such. While I was at art school we would go out sketching and I loved architecture, but having painted flowers for so many years I came to love the beauty that was there naturally.

Once I’d seen how to develop my own film I was hooked. Most of my early work was in black and white and this really trained me to see forms, shapes and textures and learn how to get the best out of it – I spent many, many hours in the dark room, like I spend many hours in what we call the Lightroom now, working digitally to process images.

I don’t know why architecture appealed to me, but I remember talking to a gentleman in Rochdale while they were opening up the river and he pointed at the town hall and said “...and they want to knock that monstrosity down.” I was taken aback. There’s beauty all around us, natural and man-made. I just love architecture. The Lowry, The Imperial War Museum, even the Gherkin in London. If we’ll take the time to look a little deeper, we’ll see the beauty right in front of us.

Some photographers use filters to produce colours that are not there, I don’t like it when folks add lots of effects on their photographs – you’ll produce something unreal. I’m only interested in what’s really there. I think I’m able to see colours

Thank God there are people who will go against some public opinion and do their thing for future generations to admire and enjoy. Some of the artists who have been pilloried in the past, we look at them as the greats now. OPENHOPE Magazine



One day I was on the train station on my way to Manchester and I found myself looking at the foliage growing up the walls, and I’m looking for an interesting arrangement and beautiful shapes, when I looked round EVERYBODY was staring at a phone. I wanted to shout “I want to show you what I see, the beauty that I can see right here!” Some mornings I’ll open the curtains and there are raindrops on the washing line and I think “I wonder what’s reflected in those rain drops.” The world is a magical place. I believe God created all this and created man in His own likeness and man should be creating. Art and photography are the future to me, allowing you to see to see the world in a beautiful way. In recent years I have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. I’ve been advised to take exercise so I walk in the park every morning – it was to be an exercise and nothing else – well, with me it soon became a spiritual experience. I noticed how the park seemed to change with the light. I eventually started taking my camera with me. Having Parkinson’s means I can’t handhold the camera steadily anymore so I set myself the challenge of taking photographs by setting the camera up on a tripod or a stone and setting the timer and letting it take it on its own. I sometimes do what I call ‘Harry’s soft shoe shuffle’. I’ll line up the shot, and then shift about a couple of inches at a time until it’s perfect. That just comes with experience. OPENHOPE Magazine



Healey Dell “This was just one of those times when the light was just right, the colours were bright and everything was perfect!”





I’ve had a faith since I can remember. I’m a fourth generation Salvationist – I’m a Christian and a member of the Salvation Army. I never had a dramatic conversion to Christianity – my faith has grown since I was a child and I had a great Christian mum. You learn and grow in faith by being surrounded by people you respect and who share that faith and Christian friends who encourage you and influence your faith. There is something powerful about being in a community of faith where we can pray for one another. It’s nice to know there are Christians around you praying for you and thinking about you. Everything we do is dictated by your faith and I feel particularly influenced by my faith when I’m taking photographs. I have a macro lens to take super close-up photos and I affectionately call it my ‘God lens’ because it’s like looking into the face of God when you see the beauty that’s in these flowers! Photography allows us to see some

things that you would never see with the naked eye and when you zoom in and take the shot it’s wonderful – it sets me up for the day! In many cases you would just not see the detail in these flowers without photography, you just wouldn’t realize that this kind of detail is even there. Having said that, I just love the bits that are out of focus. In those areas you get this wonderful splurge of colour – photographers would call it bokeh. Some might say that at no point in God’s vision is anything out of focus, well I just love those bits so I’ll have to teach God something when I get up there.

Harry’s work is regularly uploaded to the Facebook group: Rochdale for Photography



OPENHOPE is a 36 page, free, Christian magazine for the borough of Rochdale, England with community features and faith content.


OPENHOPE is a 36 page, free, Christian magazine for the borough of Rochdale, England with community features and faith content.