In 1976, aged nineteen and a student at Exeter College of Art, Iain McKell got a summer job on Weymouth seafront photographing holidaymakers. It was a wonderful opportunity for him to both earn a living and carry out a project exploring the life of the seaside photographer. As well as holidaymakers he photographed his friends, his family and local people from the town, and in the evening the disco bars, fairgrounds and caravan parks of the town.
Private Reality is about youth culture and being a teenager in the 1970s. As McKell turned from teenager to young adult, existential angst preoccupied his thoughts as it does for many teenagers, yet the project came together through his lens as he experimented through his photography. For McKell it was his rite of passage, a coming of age, as he began to look at the world and to understand it through the camera.