30 Sep 2018

new europe dawns

It's early days but I'm beginning to see a story developing with the New Europe series. I was busy this year on the streets of London, of course, and Rome, for the first time. The cities give me the opportunity to counterpoint the frontline of Italy with a peculiar phoney war feel to the UK.

The sequence on the website is still pretty random but I'm still shuffling the sequence as I sense some threads to work with.  
People seeking inspiration, direction.
link to New Europe photograph
link to New Europe photograph
People coming together.
link to New Europe photograph
link to New Europe photograph 
Barriers, Resistance.
link to New Europe photograph
link to New Europe photograph

I accept it's simple stuff but for me at least, which is kinda why I do this, it's a way of developing my style of work to depict a different sort of personal story.
More to follow.
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24 Aug 2018

modernising street photography #3

The significance of street photography in the mental health of those who practice it was a fascinating insight for me from this year's Street London event. It was touched on in last year's event by Richard Sterne but two testimonies by Cam Crosland and David Gaberle were incredibly honest and all the more powerful for that. 
In a way they put the main theme of the event about ethics and morality into perspective.  
There was some consensus around the photographer's personal responsibility to treat people with respect but not to the point of self-censorship i.e. shoot first, then decide what to do afterwards. That visceral, instinctive response is for me one of the essences of working in the street. Over-thinking dilutes that spontaneity and indeed originality.  
However Jeff Mermelstein's private text photographs proved a challenge when the "how would you feel if it was you?" question was posed. Certainly using the technology of the day and reflecting the culture of the moment made it an interesting project for me and something ironically I was taken by in the inaugural London Street Photography Symposium.
Post production as illustrated by Chris Dorley-Brown's The Corners was another angle on the premise - or promise - of authenticity. That contract between photographer and viewer that what they're seeing did happen in reality. Ah reality, there's an idea. Merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.
IMG_20180216_133247
These debates are not new. Take Weegee and Fenton for example. Yet it's interesting to consider the impact of digital on both these topics. Arguably the initial taking and then the re-making of photographs has engendered less and more thought respectively.
Dear me, this post is getting a little too existential. Back to the event.
It was refreshing to hear Simon Roberts talk, well introduced by what can be regarded as the first street photograph, highlighted the detailed planning that goes into his work. Hours of preparation for literally a handful of great images. 
Dorothy Bohm also proudly recounted her ability to make the most of the limited resources in post-war Manchester. Her lifelong commitment to photography was inspirational.
Perhaps Joel Meyerowitz nailed it in his address. Neatly closing the loop on Julie Hrudova's Street Repeat he made a powerful argument for the role - and the right - to take photographs in the street to make your own signature regardless of how original or not the composition or subject of the image. What's important is to be your own witness. I'd interpret that message both of the external and your internal worlds.
 Honest pictures.


29 Jul 2018

open city?

Rome has been in my sights for a while now. 
Perhaps it's the influence of William KleinRoberto Rosslini, or even Francesco Totti but it also has present day relevance at the front line of the debate about immigration, nationality and citizenship. 
My series New Europe is a personal reflection I've been developing around the context of my pictures. Not the specific location or time of day. Still respecting the anonymity/ambiguity of people. Back to one of my favourite words, palimpsest. Another layer of interpretation, of possible meaning, that intrigues me.
link to Rome contact sheet 
Anyway. It's a good opportunity to show a contact sheet and start the post-conception phase I enjoy! 


21 Jun 2018

always first steps

I'm really enjoying my participation in the my local London Independent Photography group. I'm in my second year which feels like a (small) achievement after previous failures to commit to group photography projects.
As well as showing and discussing photography the group is actively involved in local exhibitions. Last year's group show had a really interesting theme and this year's is just as good. So good I've ended up in the team organising it!
Oblique Strategies is an approach that Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt evolved in the 70s to overcome creative blocks. I remember interviews with David Bowie talking about his writing technique of cutting up words so it was fascinating to see how this had been formalised, industrialised even, into a process and used on his Berlin albums produced by, guess who, Brian Eno.
Each of the group were drawn a statement from the set of Oblique Strategies to respond to with a photograph. Always First Steps was mine. Well how easy was that going to be? Despite an aspiration to try different techniques by joining the group I do find myself back in my safety zone. So how about a blur of shoes on Waterloo Station's Odessa Steps? Perhaps a crowd crossing Oxford Circus Shibuya-style? Over complicating it? OK then, a kid on reins. Job done.
Well not quite. 
To do justice to the project - and Brian and David too - I felt I needed to dig a little deeper. One of the many exciting aspects of talking photographs on the street is, one of my favourite words, serendipity. That moment when two, or more if you're especially fortunate, elements come together. They are rare but incredibly rewarding
So what did I come up with? 
This.
link to Venice images
The reason why I don't title any of my pictures is just to let people read whatever they want into them. It was one of the motivations for The Ambiguous Project!
It's fascinating showing this image to people, revealing the "title" and listening to their interpretation. I'm sure there's some psychological process at work here. The same way perhaps we make connections between images and soundtracks we need to rationalise what we're seeing, no matter how arbitrary. To achieve dissonance is a real challenge. Aha. 
I feel another project coming on...


30 May 2018

city of stars

Wonderful to see London Nights a new photography show at the Museum of London. I really think it's my favourite museum and it was an honour to show my work there in the survey of London street photography. There's a strong thread of street in this show...from times way before the phrase had been coined so it's a great opportunity to look at those photographers and their work.
I was really pleased that the exhibition lead with a photograph by Paul Martin. I first became aware of his work courtesy of the show I mentioned above and he's a real pioneer of this form of photography. Well worth looking up. It was great to discover another "unknown" Mercie Lack. Details of her photography are scant - as are much about her life - so it's great to find an audience for her work in the 21st century which can admire her work both creatively and politically. I'd love to see her story developed.
Mercie Lack's Late Extra
              Late Extra, Mercie Lack
There's so much to see at the show and it's achieved by a feat of curation by Anna Sparham. More well known work by Bill Brandt has to be included and rightly so but I appreciated the chance to see more contemporary work and the use of film and video too. Rut Blees Luxemburg's piece London/Winterreise, 2013 is a salutary reflection on the state of London today referencing classical architecture and music. Inspirational. 
link to Tokyo night image 
The show challenged me directly too. I've taken night time pictures in other cities but why not London? Am I too obsessed with my daytime practice? The 360 work I made - interestingly enough also in Tokyo - was a step towards a new form of expression. Well maybe it's time for my own Winterreise moment.