Pedalo: Pushing the boat out
Brothers Rob and Andy Nicholson talk to Exposed about Pedalo, an up-and-coming photography studio and creative hub documenting people, places, projects and products in Sheffield and further afield.
Dotted around Sheffield’s old industrial heartlands, particularly the Kelham Island and Neepsend districts, you’ll find a slew of abandoned factories and workshop spaces which have been repurposed for the city’s growing creative and hospitality industries.
The former spring factory at 92 Burton Road is a neat example of this cultural shift. Once housing a variety of labourers and innovative little mesters, today the building and its courtyard contain a number of bars, cafes, restaurants and independent businesses plying a form of trade more reflective of where the Steel City finds itself in 2022.
A recent addition to this bustling S3 address is Pedalo, a collaborative venture between siblings Rob and Andy Nicholson and longtime friend James O’Hara. The seeds of the project were sown during lockdown when keen photographers Rob and James would while away lockdown hours on their bikes in the Peak District, taking photos and discussing the idea of setting up a free service to showcase independents during the difficulties of the pandemic.
“So, that’s what we did,” says Rob. “We did free shoots for Public, Gatsby and Ashoka initially; then we went up to Manchester and shot a few businesses there. Times were tough for hospitality, so it was good to do something helpful, but it was all good experience and helped me find out a bit more about my photography at the same time.”
Since then, Pedalo has gone from strength to strength, branching out into a range of projects capturing the various spices of Sheffield life: independent businesses, memorable gigs, stunning landscapes, heritage brands like Sheffield FC, portraits of the people that make the city tick, and even collaborating with Pete McKee on his highly anticipated ‘Don’t Adjust Your Mindset’ exhibition.
Finding premises of their own was the next natural step in the company’s development, and with their new studio, which also contains a hireable podcast room, they’ve now found the perfect space for themselves and fellow creatives to thrive in.
“Getting your own studio provides plenty of new options,” says Andy. “During Peddler [Market] we’re thinking about opening it up to the public or hosting a few exhibitions in here. But from a photographer’s perspective, it just gives you the creative space to do more of what you want. Creatives can hire it out and we’ll leave them to it, or clients can book in with me or Rob for a more specific shoot – there’s a lot of different ways we’re planning on using it.”
The trusty Sheffield word of mouth has been working a treat in recent months, with a number of new clients approaching Pedalo to showcase their business, and not necessarily just hospitality venues.
“It’s been a good couple of months because the work’s been so varied,” says Rob. “Everything from food and drink to live events, or shooting Yorkshire Tile Company’s flagship store. It’s been growing quite naturally, and I think the fact we really enjoy what we do shines through. That’s what we’re focusing on at the moment: pushing ourselves, making sure the client gets what they want and, importantly, enjoying doing it.”