Created by local photographer and writer Amy Davies, The Cardiff Arcades project started 4 months ago, seeking to capture the vibrant and unique shops of the historic Cardiff arcades.The photographs show a myriad of different shops from watchmakers to delis with boutiques in between. In the wake of the large new shopping complex, this project reveals another side to the Welsh capital.
Earlier this year I was lucky enough to have my portrait taken by Amy in the nearby Castle Park and it’s great to see that she’s now focussing on the colourful characters that run the shops. Amy, who works on the project voluntarily, has promoted the site herself, and it’s now had over 18,000 hits. I asked her to explain how social networks have played a part in that process.Basically, the project owes a lot to social media. The initial idea would probably never have got past an idea if it weren’t for Twitter. When I took a picture of the arcades, I blogged it and Tweeted a link to it, along with the thought that “it might be cool” to do a project on the arcades. Before I knew it, a guy from the local paper and a few local people had picked up on the tweet and it had gone from a little off the cuff idea to a fully blown project in just a few hours. Now the project has been running for a few months, I use social media to promote it and get feedback on what to do next. I use my personal Twitter feed to promote the project (@amydavies). Sometimes people ask me why I don’t set up a special @cardiffarcades feed or something. Well there’s a couple of reasons for that. First of all, I think it’s important for the project to have a “person” behind it, and for people to see that it is run by just one person, and that it’s entirely my project. I feel people feel like they can interact better with a real human person that also tweets about other things rather than a “brand profile” and secondly purely for logistics. I have 1300 followers on my personal account, I could set up a new one but it would take time to build up that level of followers again. Another way that Twitter has helped has been with retweets. Some of the posts I’ve done have been retweeted by influential tweeters, celebrities and personalities in Cardiff and beyond. For instance, a post I did on a local record shop was retweeted by Radio 1 DJ Huw Stephens and a post I did on a folk vinyl shop was retweeted by BBC Radio Wales presenter Bethan Elfyn, a big folk music site and several others. If I didn’t have social media, then I wouldn’t have anywhere near as many hits as I do as people just wouldn’t know about it. On the day I posted the Folk Farm piece, it went pretty viral, amassing close to 650 hits in one day, to date that post has almost 1000 hits, the biggest page on the site (except for the home page). How many could I have hoped for without all those retweets and shares? Not many. I’ve also set up a Facebook page for the group, which is branded, because I see Facebook as very different from Twitter, I wouldn’t want all and sundry adding me on there. The page is a good place to share photos and to set up polls and stuff, and I’m hoping this will grow as the project continues.
Amy still has lots of shops to explore with her camera but in the meantime during June you can see her work on display upstairs at The Cardiff Story (see details below).
Location: Cardiff, The Old Museum (now known as The Cardiff Story), CF10 1BH
Dates: 20 June-18 July 2011
Launch event: 22nd June 5-7pm