We've just launched a new project called Mr Blog. The idea is to document all the 'Mr' shops on our high streets. You can follow Mr Blog directly, or via his colleague on Twitter, Mr Tweets.
Here's what you'll find on the Mr Background page:
ABOUT MR BLOG
For decades, shopkeepers up and down Britain have intuitively understood one of the key principles of branding. It's about taking an inanimate product or an intangible service and investing it with a personality. Something to which people can relate on a human level.
They've also worked out the simplest way to do it. Just take your product or service and put 'Mr' in front of it. Or in some cases, Mrs or Miss. It's a great way to describe what a shop does and personalise it – all in one short, memorable name.
The result of this instinctive 'folk branding' is a lively cast of characters who cheer up the everyday shopping experience for millions of people.
But these characters are in trouble. The increasing homogeneity of Britain's high streets is crowding out the individual and the homespun. Some are disappearing altogether, while those that remain are jostling up against powerful global brands that easily outdo them for sophistication and marketing spend.
Mr Blog is an attempt to recognise and honour these under-appreciated characters, and show them our support.
We had the idea a few years ago and thought it would make a nice ongoing photography project. We planned to snap a few shopfronts and gradually develop a collection over the years.
Further down the line, we realised that life is short and petrol is expensive.
In the meantime, another very useful service had come along: Google Street View. It means we can now research the shop names and addresses online, then go hunting on Street View for visual evidence.
We still hope to gather some original photos (possibly helped by reader submissions), but in the meantime Street View makes for a welcome and fun alternative. It truly is one of the great technological undertakings of our age.
We'll post the odd update here, but Mr Blog himself will be hosting most of the action.