Thursday, 25 October 2012

Point of Ayr

Point of Ayr (Welsh: Y Parlwr Du) is the northernmost point of mainland Wales. It is situated immediately to the north of Talacre in Flintshire, at the mouth of the Dee estuary. It is to the southwest of the Liverpool Bay area of the Irish Sea. It is the site of a RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) nature reserve RSPB Dee Estuary Point of Ayr,[1] and is part of Gronant and Talacre Dunes Site of Special Scientific Interest.

It has been a long time since I shot a landscape, I enjoy the freedom it brings. Point of Ayr is a great place to walk along the coast; and take in the sea air. You also have great opportunities to photograph this landscape and its lighthouse from varying angles.

Not too deep a tide unless in Winter or a storm comes in or the remnants of a hurricane diminish off the coast of Ireland.

The shot I have posted up is to give you the reader or viewer an idea of how diverse photography can be, as you progress you can become quite vacuous taking shots of landscapes; your thoughts become clearer and your mind empties of the mass jumbling effect of living in a bustling city.

It is here that I come to write my thoughts down, my ideas always spring up when am walking around like an intermittent factory of inception; my mind jostles these ideas; and wrestles them until one will come to the fore.

This is when I decide to make my next move and going forward, I know that when my mind clears my decision is waiting.

I watched a Robin Williams film entitled "What Dreams May Come", in this fantasy film of the afterlife the actorRobin Williams plays a Doctor named Chris Nielsen.

Soul mates Chris and Annie couldn't be happier, having married each other and had two wonderful children. Unfortunately, tragedy strikes when they lose them both in a car accident, and then again for Annie many years later when Chris is killed in another accident.

What Chris finds is a Paradise unlike anything he ever imagined, where he is guided by Albert, the first doctor he interned under and is helped to see his children once again. Unfortunately, when Annie takes her life in despair, she does not venture to the same plane of existence.

Taking it upon himself to rescue her, Chris ventures into the pit of Hell with Albert and a Tracker to save his wife from the damnation she doesn't even know she is forcing on herself. Written by Curly Q. Link 

The thing with this is I always imagined that when the tide recedes it would reveal the heads of those who have gone before us, I know quite surreal but none the less, the thought always crosses my mind when ever I visit Point of Ayr.

I do find it inspirational, here is a shot I took a couple of months ago; entitled The Birds 

Well until my next post, farewell and enjoy your photography.


Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Faith Through A Lense

Donald McCullin


Born 9 October 1935, Finsbury Park, London, England. Donald or Don as he is also known is a world recognised British photojournalist, his work covered war documentary and urban strife, often showing the dark underbelly of society.

He took images of people who were unemployed, downtrodden and impoverished (a style am currently using). The images showed how we as people can be portrayed with a lot of emotional content, be it the eyes of a child who is hungry or the eyes of a shell shocked soldier in Vietnam, to the troubles in Northern Ireland.

McCullin’s style came to the fore during his time in Vietnam, his coverage from the frontline troops showed how diverse a photographer could be in reportage style. Himself coming under direct fire in which his Nikon F3 visibly saved his life, he recalls “I was taller than the others…” McCullin had been in the forces himself; he carried out his National Service in the RAF, which brought him to the Canal Zone; during the Suez Crisis in 1956.

He worked as a photographer’s assistant, he failed to pass a photography written theory paper, which was necessary to become a photographer in the RAF, and so it was he spent his service in the darkroom.

Besides having his work published for The Observer in 1959, a photograph of a local London gang. Between 1966 and 1984 he worked overseas as a correspondent for the Sunday Times Magazine, documenting ecological and man-made catastrophes such as war zones like Biafra, in 1968 and coverage of the victims in the African AIDS epidemic.


His work has seen him rewarded for his efforts too; in 1964 he received the World Press Photo Award for his work during the war in Cyprus. In that same year too; he received the Warsaw Gold Medal. In 1977, McCullin was made a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, placing the letters FRPS after his name, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from University of Bradford in 1993 and an honorary degree by the Open University in 1994.
On 4 December 2008, McCullin was conferred with an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by the University of Gloucestershire in recognition of his lifetime's achievement in photojournalism.
McCullin mainly shoots landscape shots nowadays, as if to escape the torment of his earlier creative and sometimes controversial work, this seems to be synonymous with many early photojournalists, they strive for peace in later years. He is currently one of the judges on a photographic competition, in fact the leading judge on the panel.
 If that is certainly so then my next photojournalist may have you awestruck as to the actions of the photographer and indeed to the reaction of the readers of the known publication LIFE magazine.

The Coffee Drinkers Senate

A series of shots depicting life on the streets of Manchester, Liverpool and Chester.

The shots are for a thematic covering people at Work, Rest and Play. The images are for sale, so if you wish to purchase my work you can do so via my email.
I gave this the title of the coffee drinkers senate, the cups in the shot shouted at me. Not just that though it is the mans circumstances that speaks volumes, it tells a story and will spark an emotional response.

My work has shifted somewhat from Landscapes to Portraiture but mainly people portraits depicting people going about their things and daily lives.

I find the subject matter very appealing. Some will find it disturbing, but that is life.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Work, Rest and Play

An artist
This is the working title for my assignment; I have been photographing people in the cities of Chester, Liverpool and Manchester. Whether these people were homeless or working or at play; some of the people I have shot have welcomed me as in the case of the street artist who had asked me to pose for him, I gladly and willingly did. Achiem Olajudal (I think that is his name) was an artist using charcoals as his tools; his subject was too like mine, people.

People are the focus of many a photographers assignments; I wanted to portray how we are today, how far have come since those days of the first images being taken by Talbot Fox. The answer of course in photography terms is very far, the principles are still the same however the subjects have changed very little. We still have people wandering the streets begging for money, we still have people performing as in at play, whether they’re mimes or musicians or even the latest sand sculptors and their sculptures.

We still have people working too, today when you’re walking down the street, you will still see flower sellers, groceries stalls, or the odd balloon seller.

I have tried to document these people as best I can from a compositional point of view, I hope you will see my interpretation of what my photographs are saying, whether it be metaphor or a shot that shows drama or invites the viewer to relate to the image because it has that spark of emotion.
My inspiration comes from the master photographers of the past century, Henri Cartier-Bresson; Tony Ray-Jones and Aleksander Rodchenko. Okay yes they’re lot more besides and I have to admit too, that one such photographer who is Lee Miller has captured my imagination from a journalistic perspective, how heroic she really was, such an inspirational woman! I will come back to Lee Miller in another post, she is worthy of much more than a few paragraphs.
Although I have tried to take some of the shots in reportage style, I have been mainly concerned with the photographs result ensuring that they are saleable to a market.
This particular shot was a young man who was so in his element a musician using ‘alternative’ objects to bang on this makeshift drum kit. He played out a good rhythm, and a few people watched, but mostly walked by not even considering this man’s exceptional talent. (Are we really, so unsociable?)
This one image, of course depicting a man at ‘play’ he is so instrumental (pardon the pun) in my thematic. I have captured a series of photographs that I will post onto my on-line portfolio. So keep watching.
What I love about this shot is how candid it looks, however the 'drummer' was certainly aware of my presence.
Next week I have a got another photo assignment this one, is purely for the sporting fraternity in particular the 'running aficionados', I will be covering the Snowdon Marathon probably one of the most demanding marathons in the UK, with an elevation gain of just over 1200 feet (365m) it is sure to prove a hard one to the relative 'newcomer'.
Am sure though I will get some exciting shots off. So until then enjoy half term, its great to have a break from Uni.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

A Piece Of History

Yes, yes I have been busy again, I now know too from feed back that people enjoy reading and viewing the images, that I or the photographers I have researched have taken be it on the streets of New York City or the South Coast of Britain. 

I will be posting a colour shot too, that doesn't mean to say I have stopped shooting Blanco Y Negro though, no, no certainly not!

Bill Brandt

Bill Brandt (born Hermann Wilhelm Brandt, 2 May 1904 – 20 December 1983), was a German-British photographer and photojournalist. Although born in Germany, Brandt moved to England, where he became known for his high-contrast images of British society, his distorted nudes and landscapes, and is widely considered to be one of the most important British photographers of the 20th century.
He is widely known as the Photographers photographer, born in Hamburg, Germany, son of a British father and German mother, Brandt grew up during World War I, during which his father, who had lived in Germany since the age of five, was interned for six months by the Germans as a British citizen.  Brandt later disowned his German heritage and would claim he was born in South London.  Shortly after the war, he contracted tuberculosis and spent much of his youth in a sanatorium in Davos, Switzerland. He travelled to Vienna to undertake a course of treatment for tuberculosis by psychoanalysis. He was in any case pronounced cured and was taken under the wing of socialite Eugenie Schwarzwald. When Ezra Pound visited the Schwarzwald residence, Brandt made his portrait. In appreciation, Pound allegedly offered Brandt an introduction to Man Ray, in whose Paris studio Brandt would assist in 1930.
In 1933 Brandt moved to London and began documenting all levels of British society. This kind of documentary was uncommon at that time. Brandt published two books showcasing this work, The English at Home (1936) (a collectors item)  and A Night in London (1938). He was a regular contributor to magazines such as Lilliput, Picture Post, and Harper's Bazaar. He documented the Underground bomb shelters of London during The Blitz in 1940, commissioned by the Ministry of Information.
Brandt would later in life photograph a lot of the English coast, he loved Britain, and he is also loved to feature various parts of human anatomy against the south coast back drop to highlight the contrast in textures and form. This is what he is best known for in his work. One image I found very striking was the nude pictured along the coast at the bottom of the cliff face in an unusual perspective, he used the same model for most of his work.
This use of the female form was so very striking at the time, it is very enticing and yet it is also like a lot of us, the rough texture of the shingle beach and the female nude form soft and angelic against this stark contrast texture.
Brandt was also famously quoted as saying; “Photography is not a sport. It has no rules. Everything must be dared and tried.”

Tony Ray – Jones

Mention photography and the 1960s and you immediately think of fashion photographers, ultra slim models - a world in black and white. That is not the full story. Today his name is virtually unknown outside photographic circles, but Tony Ray-Jones was arguably the person who shaped a generation of British photographers.

Between 1966 and 1969 he worked tirelessly to capture his vision of the English, their rituals and customs and to promote photography as an art form. 

The photo on the left was taken in New York in 1965 by Bill Jay, then Editor of Creative Camera, who built up a splendid collection of photos of photographers of that period. I think Tony must have been asked to strike a distinct pose - it maybe shows something of his character, which was certainly not conformist.
Many of the images are based around seaside resorts as in the later work of Martin Parr, but his work focused on the rituals of the British public, such as this image of a couple picnicking in the British countryside. This image has captured the imagination of thousands of people; they’re many a photographer who admires the work of Tony Ray-Jones. 

Born in 1941, the youngest son of British painter Raymond Ray-Jones, he studied graphics and photography in London before moving to the US on a scholarship to study at Yale in 1961.

It was here whilst working alongside legendary art directory Alexey Brodovitch and street photographer Joel Meyerowitz that Ray-Jones began to develop his own way of seeing the world through the lens of his camera. Despite being only in his twenties he was totally focused on his work. His notebooks show that his plans to document the English way of life were well under way when he made the journey back to the UK from America in 1965.

A few years into the project in 1968 he wrote, "For me there is something very special and rather humorous about the English way of life and I wish to record it from my particular point of view before it becomes more Americanised."
Certainly today when I’m out photographing, the streets of Manchester, Liverpool or London, you need only to look up and see how the architecture has dramatically changed, then you look closer at the surface and see too, we have become as Tony Ray-Jones puts it “Americanised”. Although this is not necessarily a negative, far from it. I think from my perspective it is going to give my photography more depth. 
You look at the styles of fashion in men and women, men in particular have opted for that clean cut college look, well groomed and presentable and why not. I don't want to photograph anything remotely resembling the 70s; 80s or even the 90s for that matter. However the style has similarities to the 1950s. 

Anyway I digress let's get back on track. 

Though not alone in documenting everyday life in Britain; his approach was heavily influenced by his stay in the USA and the work of photographers such as Robert Frank and Garry Winogrand.
Ray-Jones’ candid approach allowed his subjects and the real world to some extent do the work for him. He was a "film director" snatching selected moments from reality, capturing stills or moments in life as he saw it through the lens of a camera.

Perhaps Ray-Jones' own words capture this best:
"Photography can be a mirror and reflect life as it is, but I also think that perhaps it is possible to walk like Alice, through a looking-glass, and find another kind of world with the camera."

Tony Ray-Jones broke new ground helping to establish photography as an accepted art from. In 1969, alongside Enzo Ragazzini, Dorothy Bohm and Don McCullin; his pictures were shown at the ICA, it was the first time the institute had exhibited photography.

The following decade saw an increase in photographic support in the UK with the opening of the Photographers' Gallery in London and Arts Council grants helping to fund new work.
Working with Bill Jay, editor of the highly influential Creative Camera magazine, Ray-Jones travelled to the US in an attempt to secure a publisher for his book on the English. It was not to be.
In 1970 Ray-Jones returned to the US, teaching at the San Francisco Institute of Art alongside his commissioned work for both the American and British press.

Tragically in January 1972 he was diagnosed as suffering from leukaemia and returned to England where he died a few days later. His legacy can be seen in the work of photographers such as Martin Parr and Chris Steele-Perkins amongst others.

Paul Strand

Paul Strand (October 16, 1890 – March 31, 1976) was an American photographer and filmmaker who, along with fellow modernist photographers like Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Weston, helped establish photography as an art form in the 20th century. His diverse body of work, spanning six decades, covers numerous genres and subjects throughout the Americas, Europe and Africa.
Paul Strand was born in New York City to Bohemian parents. In his late teens Strand was a student of renowned documentary photographer Lewis Hine at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School

It was while on a fieldtrip in this class that Strand first visited the 291 art gallery – operated by Stieglitz and Edward Steichen – where exhibitions of work by forward-thinking modernist photographers and painters would move Strand to take his photographic hobby more seriously. Stieglitz would later promote Strand's work in the 291 gallery itself, in his photography publication Camera Work, and in his artwork in the Hieninglatzing studio.
Some of this early work, like the well-known "Wall Street," experimented with formal abstractions (influencing, among others, Edward Hopper and his idiosyncratic urban vision). Other of Strand's works reflect his interest in using the camera as a tool for social reform. He was one of the founders of the Photo League, an association of photographers who advocated using their art to promote social and political causes.

In early 1915, his mentor Stieglitz criticised the graphic softness of Strand's photographs and over the next two years he dramatically changed his technique and made extraordinary photographs on three principal themes: movement in the city, abstractions, and street portraits. During the 1910s, New York thronged with pedestrians, carriages, and automobiles; and the streets became the unavoidable symbol of flux, change, and modernity. 

Photographers such as Alvin Langdon Coburn; and Karl Struss; and many painters, including John Marin, pursued the "great hastening metropolis" as a vital subject. Being a very deliberate artist, however, Strand was not initially taken with the "rush and go" but instead structured his images on relatively slow movements, usually of a single person, as is seen in From the El.
Soon he increased the complexity and upped the tempo of his compositions with the multiple rhythms of midtown and downtown crowds.

Many of the people Strand photographed were classic New York types of the period: unshaven toughs, red-nosed Irish washerwomen, Jewish patriarchs, ageing Europeans, blind peddlers, and sandwich men. Like Lewis Hine, Strand was collecting the poignant evidence of poverty among the cultures that crowded the metropolis. Treating the human condition in the modern urban context, Strand's photographs are a subversive alternative to the studio portrait of glamour and power. A new kind of portrait akin to a social terrain, they are, as Sanford Schwartz put it, "cityscape's that have faces for subjects."