I’m James Walker and I am looking forward to meeting you.

Kilmarnock local lassie Jamie Marshall emulates the stunning mural of Lady Grey on King Street. We make Kilmarnock fun.

I’m delighted to be the We Make Kilmarnock photographer, it promises to be such a fun and inspiring project.

There is a long list of people only too willing to express their opinions as to what’s wrong with Kilmarnock, and most other towns to be fair to them. This is a real chance for you to have your say and make things right. What would you do if you had the chance? Would you take it?

We, as people who live, work or seek recreation in Kilmarnock have the opportunity to make it a better place. We have a chance to restore at least some of the glory and prestige the town once enjoyed. It is a place with a long history, great architecture, beautiful open spaces and easy links to everywhere else. Most of all it is a hub for Ayrshire folk, sitting right at the heart of the county.

Gardens in bloom at the entrance to Centrestage, Elmbank Drive Kilmarnock. The old Kilmarnock Academy has been revamped and repurposed by a team led by Fiona McKenzie OBE to provide a place for people to thrive.
We Make Kilmarnock 2024. Ayrshire

A recurring theme for me is that people make places what they are. People are the most important element anywhere. Folk leaving or retiring can have a devastating effect. By the same token it is people with ideas that drive commerce, promote culture, preserve heritage, entertain and help others thrive.

Why have an official We Make Kilmarnock photographer?

As the We Make Kilmarnock photographer I’m really looking forward to documenting the projects that only exist as pipe dreams at the moment. These official images have the consistency to help establish the brand while giving a real sense of who the project is for. Stock images are seldom believable, you will recognise some of the faces that appear throughout the project though. They are real, local people and I photographed them all in Kilmarnock.

The board and project management team are now in place. Questionnaires are in circulation and will shortly be available online to discover what the folk of Kilmarnock really want. There is £20 million over five years in funding to make some of those dreams real.

They will not happen overnight and not all of the ideas will make the cut, however the ones that do have a really good chance of making a real difference. The people are in charge, not the government or the council. This project is empowering us as local businesses and residents to drive the changes that we want to see.

I absolutely encourage you to take as many photographs as you can and share them around. It all helps and as I said everyone sharing ideas and visions is the whole point. I cannot be everywhere and I’m not sure I’d even want that as a superpower. Your experience, community and perspective matter so feel free to join in.

We make Kilmarnock thrive, not “them”!

Will you be part of it? If so I look forward to meeting you and documenting your part of it in a photograph. No matter how small the part you play may be, it is the incremental steps real Ayrshire folk take that make a difference, even if they are often forgotten or overlooked. The bigger players that often get the credit can’t do it without you, us, all together.

I will capture as many of the moving parts as I can to reveal the big picture and so inspire others to join in or start somewhere else. Only good can come of this. Photographing the process will not only help make it happen but will keep it real, transparent and accountable. When we see what is going on, where, why, who is involved and perhaps most importantly, how they are making it work, it leads to real growth.

Come and get involved so you can influence the difference I look forward to meeting you. Check out #wemakekilmarnock and the website to find out more about how you can help make things better.

Stay awesome.