Stunning steampunk photography book gives Belper a cinematic makeover

Belper's historic buildings are featured in The Imaginarium, a new cinematic book by steampunk photographer Gary Nicholls.
Belper's historic buildings are featured in The Imaginarium, a new cinematic book by steampunk photographer Gary Nicholls.

Belper’s industrial heritage has been portrayed in a whole new light for a stunning photography book inspired by the steampunk style.

The Imaginarium has been created by Gary Nicholls, one of the UK’s leading fine art photographers specialising in steampunk – a form of science fiction mixing futuristic technology with historic settings.

The book follows the tale of fictional character Eva and her journey from ruination to salvation, saving the world from a powerful nemesis.

Each of the 150-plus images has taken hundreds of hours to produce, with Gary using techniques which layer dozens of different shots on top of each other to produce an other-worldly effect.

He said: “If I cannot find the exact location, I build one in Photoshop from different elements of the places I have visited and photographed.

“There is one street scene in particular made up buildings all over the UK from Leamington to London. I used Belper in several shots as my story is set in a mill town so it was perfect for my images.”

Belper residents Mark and Donna Sanders, left and centre, also appeared in the book.

Belper residents Mark and Donna Sanders, left and centre, also appeared in the book.

Gary also used the Old’ King’s Head, on Days Lane, for interior shots but it was not just the town’s buildings which caught his lens.

Residents Mark and Donna Sanders star among a cast of 150 well known figures on the steampunk costume scene.

Donna said: “Working with Gary is unlike working with any other photographer. We are all acting rather than posing. He creates the scene in our minds and we act it out.”

The production of the book has been more like that of a Hollywood film, with a crew of costume designers and prop gadgets created by master craftsman Peter Walton at a cost of up to £12,000 each.

Gary has roamed all over the world to compose his shots, taking landscape elements from New York, Barcelona, Cambodia, Poland, Greece and Portugal.

Mark said: “The book is an amazing piece of work and completely unique. Gary’s imagination is so off the scale we all think he smokes Skittles.”

The limited edition hardback book is on sale for £99 via imaginariumtrilogy.co.uk.