Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Back in the saddle...

Listening to Endless Boogie...

viewing countless photographs from street photographer Bruce Gilden and I can feel the energy pulsing through me. This guy is fucking awesome! So much much going in the frames, and his humanistic approach is not too dissimilar from Dougie Wallace, aka (Glasweegee). 

They both use off-camera flash and if you have seen neither photographers' work, well you should get yourself out there and start looking! If your into street photography, you probably have heard of these guys before. Let me tell you Dougie Wallace travels around a lot he's a proper photo-journalist with a very humanistic approach, it may seem agressive like Gilden's but that's because you have never tried that style, and you really should get out there and photograph some more...

For the past few weeks I have been a very busy guy with avoiding floods...engine dying...crappy trains, assignments, assignments...let me tell you trying to sort things out whilst holding a job down and going for a degree in photography, not to mention still the possibility of finding a great deal more material for a new book; yeah I been busy alright.

Alas though it will all be worth it in the end, cos the one thing I do believe in is hard work equals big rewards...ten fold!
So what exactly have I been shooting then? Well apart from some graffiti backdrops and listening to umpteen John Cooper Clarke poems and reading them of course and the latest book from John Berger which looks at visual language and photographic work by photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson and W. Eugene Smith, through the eyes of award winning author Geoff Dyer.

If your studying photography as an art form, this book; is well worth the investment. it helps move on from Berger, John Ways of Seeing (London: Penguin Books 1972). And if you have read that then you will have an idea of where I am going with this, it looks at the one aspect of photography few beginners will understand, unless your an avid reader of photography literature. 

It's a great tool for those who are looking at the art of photography as a visual language, for those who are really wanting to learn more about the art from an academic perspective. 
  Now that I have shared that with you, I thought I would share some photographs of Bruce Gilden and other New York street photographers and a link to everybody street. Great film if you have not seen the piece.

Enjoy viewing!

Monday, 14 October 2013

Sleeper noun (person) ˈsliː.pər

My current project is a study of the person asleep; I have collated a series of images through a series of trips around the city centres in the UK. The majority of the images were taken during an exceptional warm summer, not just that but the images were shot on separate occasions.


I shoot street photography around the UK and through careful editing and assimilation I noticed a pattern emerging from my work, and I was intrigued by what I had actually recorded that I then decided to focus my attention on just that subject.


What became apparent was certainly the temperature was a key factor in all circumstances, not just that but the time of the day these photographs were actually taken.


I was quite astounded at what I had actually found, I found that these people seemed so far removed, displaced from their natural surroundings that they became comatose in appearance. For all intents and purposes they were asleep, but why?


Why were these people asleep openly in public, was it the heat? Was it alcohol induced or a combination of both? I have witnessed people travelling fall asleep especially on a long journey, it seems quite acceptable to see this as a journey on a plane, ship or even a train can induce a relaxed state of mind as to the point of restlessness and so the body begins to shut down essential motor behaviour’s and further induce sleep.


So I understand how this can happen but openly outdoors and in the full glare of the sun, surely this factor would prevent you from falling asleep in such a hot heat outdoors.


The people in the photographs amazed me as they were totally immersed in their sleep, for myself as a photographer I decided to explore more, and apparent states can be recognised for what they are.


The subject of photography is always a topic of conversation where ever I go; I meet people from all walks of life, though it does make me more attentive when I do meet like-minded people who are into art whatever form it takes, people in everyday situations influence my own state of mind and so I begin to document these ‘events’ and capture some essence of the human spirit.


Photography has opened up an amazing world for me, and for like-minded individuals it can be very exciting and is a unique way of meeting people, I enjoy meeting people from other cultures and finding out what makes these people tick.


Those people have influenced my work over the past two years or so, and I have moved away somewhat from just shooting landscape photography, though I do like to shoot this from time to time.


It is actually people who I now prefer to capture on digital or analogue format, shooting film is a fantastic way of capturing the world, the cities and its streets. There is so much to capture, so from reading this blog hopefully you will gain some inspiration and go out and capture people going about their business in an extraordinary way.


Friday, 27 September 2013

Recommended Reading

The List

So your first day back at college, and your given a recommended reading list for the next two years to ingest literally, so at first glance here is the list:

Barthes, Roland. (1984) Camera Lucida. London: Fontana

Berger, John. (1972) Ways of Seeing. London: Penguin

Diprose & Robins. (2012) The New Basics, Principles, techniques and Practice. London: Thames & Hudson

Hedgecoe, John (2006): The Art of Digital Photography, London DK Publishing

Hedgecoe, John (2003): The New Manual of Photography, London DK Publishing

Jeffrey, Ian. (1981) Photography: A Concise History. New York and Toronto: Oxford University Press

Kobré, Kenneth (1996): Photojournalism: The Professionals' Approach. Oxford, Focal Press

Newhall, Beaumont. (1982) The History of Photography New York: Museum of Modern Art.

Peterson, Bryan (2003): Learning to See Creatively. New York, Amphoto Books.

Phaidon (Ed) (1997): The Photo Book. London, Phaidon Press Ltd.

Scharf, Aaron. (1974) Art and Photography. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Sontag, Susan. (1997) On Photography. London, Penguin.

Semiotics in Photography

So this is a great list to begin with and am doubtless that they're others that can be added by myself and my peers as we move through the new academic year; our first proper lecture looked at signs and in particular semiotics in photography. 

I know from coming from an advertising background this is an interesting subject, it looks at history of signs in humanity and communication in photography. Signs appear in every day life, from information informing us what is happening around the world (a technique used in guerrilla  advertising) to signs urging us to purchase products used in every day life. 

For instance in the example below we see the signifier in a term and the signified in the overall sentence: 

The social media (signifier) website Facebook (signified

So by that statement we can see that our mind is cast straight away to a physical representation; although the signified is almost certainly not a substance. 

So for this past week I have been reading a lot and viewing art and its interpretation; Ways of Seeing by John Berger is a fascinating insight in to painting and art criticism, and shows the reader how we perceive the world through the eyes of art, exploring the meanings of paintings, photographs and graphic art forms.

It is a brilliant book and do watch the BBC documentaries too, if your studying photography as an art form and would like to know more subscribe to my blog.

Language of Art

Why is it that art really does speak to us regardless of the language we speak, whatever your mother tongue; you are always going to perceive art or a form of art as a language that provokes emotional response to the viewer, whether as a reader or something much more physical like a sculpture.

However what about paintings and photographs they're physical too, but the interpretation of physical is so far removed from an actual presence as in the form of a sculpture, but paintings and photographs do capture a sense of a physical form, from a moment captured in time or rather a moment captured or re-imagined in a physical sense painted with oil or painted with light.

In both forms composition is implementable to the message or sign being conveyed, so in the painting the message can be altered at will, in the photograph it can be in a digital sense.

However if your referring to an organic sense then the photograph or the memory of what was captured, will be ever infinite.

The one aspect about photography is that it really is organic, the moment is captured and it is developed by chemicals and yes more light, it is tangible product.

So too is a painting, the energy that goes in to a painting is much like that of composing a photograph, we want the viewer to be hooked, we want the viewer to ask questions of the piece and we want to provoke a human response, much like the cave paintings, in Lascaux, Southwest France, we want to signify how we perceive the world through our own eyes, through a shared experience.

Looking at the list above, another aspect of art and its interpretation is that of philosophy, yes art is philosophical, it makes us look at ourselves through the eyes of others, the irony is we are all the same in a physical sense, we are born with a brain, we ingest information and somehow this information is scrambled through a series of significant events that happen during our own lives cycle, we begin with a sense of needing stimulation to kick start the psyche in to wanting to ingest knowledge, and that knowledge is always shown with signs or symbols associated with words whatever the language they mean the same thing, much like the Swiss linguist and semiotician Ferdinand de Saussure, we are shown the signifier and the signified.

We learn through a series of signs and those signs are in a sense very physical to a growing and curious child, we are taught through a series of events in a social sense how our lives are cataloged, through experiences except in the real world, those events don't always play out the way the world or rather the elder members of your family would wish for you.

So you see art is interpreted through differing experiences, how I experience a visit to the museum might be completely different to your experience of a visit to a museum. We all differ from one another what one person likes, another may dislike. We are different and yet we are the same, that is the most interesting aspect to the art form of a being and that being human, human differences are shaped by culture and the very surroundings of their habitual life, a tribe member living in a remote village in or another continent, will interpret life differently to someone who may have been born in a war torn suburb of Israel, and so too the interpretation would be a very different but yet organic experience.

Images, paintings and photographs are man-made; we all want these interpretations to be reciprocated by some human response whether that is in a metaphorical or literal sense. That is the beauty of the intelligence of the language of art, it can be taken in either of those interpretations; early painters used certain references to mortality in their paintings, one example is Caravaggio and his painting of St. Hieronymus Writing, 1605-1606. The human skull signifies the signified (St. Hieronymus) that death comes to us all, much like that of William Shakespeare and the play in which evokes a monologue from a young Prince Hamlet and the vile effects of death. The signifier and the signified.

Two very different interpretations but none the less, the very same message questions our own existence why are we here, what are we doing, what do we want to accomplish in our own existence. The signs are there and we can make a difference, we can inform and we can educate through the medium of art and in many forms.

Art and Design

Design is an art form associated with everyday things like words or the font or typography to create that word, or more so to actually write it, we design and we create. Creating something is the art of creating something which is beneficial to our world and our lives, to mankind. We create to stimulate use, we create to evolve.

Evolution in design has taken much the same growth rate, as we ourselves have taken in our existence, mankind has evolved at an alarming rate, we think of ourselves having lived for a long period in time, however time only exists in a relative sense say the length of time it takes to travel a distance from point A to point B.

Much like time then we create a series or parallels of linear composition to create form, this can be interpreted in the form of a shape, or a tempo in a musical piece or in a language. In a shape it could be closed much like that of a triangle, circle, square or hexagon or so on. In music it could be the repetitive beat of a drum or in language it could also be that of a sound, that sound could be signified by a signifier, so for instance; if I say wood, it could be interpreted as a series of trees in an landscape or it could be a piece of wood for a fire.

The signifier remains the same; the interpretation of the signified always changes. So by design we can change the way we interpret the design by a series of communicative sounds or words or shapes. We can change the way a message can be conveyed in this manner.

As a photographer starting out I shot a lot of landscapes hoping to try and capture those moments which were signified by those historic painters, like Constable, Turner or Vermeer. I wanted to capture an emotion being portrayed in a landscape, if I were born in Sao Paulo, Brazil; how would I interpret a painting by those aforementioned?

Sao Paulo is a densely populated city whose inhabitants live close to the coast and yet their skyline is adorned by so many skyscrapers, residential blocks that convey a surreal world of concrete trees. Not the very green, idyll to speak of. It is constructive, much the same and further inland we witness lush green forests.

In stark contrast, we too see these examples in the design of paintings by J M W Turner, in his paintings of The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons we see the forms breaking down. In that interpretation we can suggest that the buildings are like fires man-made and encroach upon the lush green land of Brazil, eradicating the landscape form and replacing it with one that is neither attractive or environmentally beneficial, but is beneficial to a living sense of habitual longing to exist.


Interpretation is the key to our existence we suggest how to interpret in language and art is a language in a different form, but it is an accepted form of language, the photographer Cristina De Middel shot a series of photographs that portrayed Africans in a different light, one that engages the audience with reality and myth. The concept of a nation after gaining independence gains leadership in a race to space with a collective aptly titled The Afronauts Zambia gains recognition in developing a space program to send the first African astronaut to the moon.  

The series of images some depicting traditional dress interleaved with a space suit against the backdrop of an elephant does certainly evoke a human response. Is the photographer showing signs of racism to prejudge an African, or does the photographer want to convey a message "Why not?"

Controversial aspects in photography seem to go hand in hand, is it art to engage the viewer in awe or to engage the viewer in shock. Whatever the interpretation and no matter what side if the fence you are on, art is not without its sense of irony.
I will be looking at this subject again, so for now keep photographing and documenting the world with your own eyes, and you will begin to find your inspiration through your own interpretation.

Saturday, 14 September 2013


Okay all, well I had such a great response to my last piece which was a black & white landscape shot of a lone tree. I have sent a copy to Black+White Photography magazine it is the champion of this genre of photography, so who knows I may actually receive a 20x24in print!

I have to say its one of my own personal favourites I have ever taken, every time I look at the landscape though am always thinking about those iconic street shots taken by the past masters, I know I have some great material in my street photography back catalogue, and if you have not yet seen my work from my latest book then check out We The People for those interesting street shots from around the United Kingdom.

Looking at the book itself, I was very impressed and even more impressed at how great it looks on retina display on a Mac. The high definition is very sharp, so obviously sharp pictures please people. Even so I know from experience that shooting film can be a truer representation of a moment captured. Many of you who follow twitter and in particular that celluloid stalwart Ted Forbes, will know this on his show and regular podcast the art of photography that they're many who do prefer film to digital for so many reasons, however if any of you have ever had the opportunity to hold let alone use a Leica or other range finder, will know yes they can be accurate but looking through the viewfinder on a DSLR is like seeing what your actually seeing!


I recently purchased a mint condition FED 4 Rangefinder, so far so good am impressed by using this seemingly compact camera and the lens is a superb Industar f/2.8 55mm So I have bought several rolls of film, some from Ilford and others from the lomography guys. So am buzzing with the thought of getting out there with this camera and shooting some fantastic street shots like this one here entitled Jump!

I had been watching him and his friends leaping into the air off a slackline, he jumped from one to another he had an incredible sense of balance, I was fixated and I shot a couple of more shots; but this one really captured his sense of control and belief in what he was doing the concentration on his face was electric.

Capturing this has given me renewed focus too, I have now got some great ideas for a few more books solely focusing on a particular subject.

Renewed inspiration couldn't come too soon either, as I'm back at college next week. That's right the holidays are well and truly over and I guess so is summer. No more scantily clad females out come the scarfs and woolly hats...bah!  Though fall does bring some colour out so the next few months may see new material even though am going for mainly social documentary, those other ideas are still on the back burner.

Those guys over at Blurb have other photographers and artists alike, that produce books, eBooks and know a thing or two about art to boot, I realised that not much social interaction happens on their own site, however on their Facebook page it's totally the opposite, they're a great bunch. I came across some work by a photographer who has travelled extensively and has captured some amazing photographs, actually it is photographic art, the photographer is Michael Forbes, his resumé  speaks for itself as does his work.

Coney... the summer of love

I have spoken about other photographers and of course that is what I like to do is research other photographers' so that you the reader / follower can be inspired to shoot and create your own art. It is our cultural existence that inspires us to create and innovate, his latest book Coney... the summer of love is so very inspirational from a social documentary perspective, I do ask though is it as in your face as the work of Dougie Wallace? Probably not but that's what street photography is all about when you take yourself back to the words of Henri Cartier-Bresson who was quoted as stating that the camera is an extension of his eye, he was shooting in places like Paris, France and in stark contrast Russia. Not only considered the father of photojournalism, but also one of the greatest photographers of all time, so the likes of myself, Forbes and Wallace are following in Cartier-Bresson's footsteps for sure, differing styles yes, but the composition is there for all to see.

Where to now?

So over the next few months I will be sharing with you a diary of what I am shooting, and your very welcome to comment on my work, I do like it when some one makes a comment on my blog, even more so when someone comments on my photography.

After all feedback is important to a photographer it is how you hone your craft, so keep reading...

So long



Thursday, 5 September 2013

The Quickening [Explored]

So here it is something of which happens now and again, sometimes the magic happens and when it does, it is something very special when you pull it off.

It was an arduous task if only for the bull in the field chasing me up the hill, I had my gear set up when I heard these hoofs running towards me, eek!

Grab gear and try jump up-hill over barbed wire fence...seconds later almost epic fail, wishing someone had of snapped this comical moment in my entertaining life; it has been so far.

So I finally arrived at this moment with cut hands and a bruised after thought, worth it...yeah it was actually.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

We The People

Welcome to a very positive day; today my second book We The People was published through Blurb the book is going to be a resounding success, it certainly is a culmination of the styles I have picked up through comical captures, metaphors and juxtaposition. 

Am happy it is finally finished and to be honest it has been a bit of a learning curve putting this together, unlike Work, Rest and Play this is probably a lot more besides.
After having a conversation with another photographer, we discussed my style of photojournalism and the approach is certainly artistic in execution, I am though just learning though admittedly I am developing a style. 

When you click on the link to my latest work you will be greeted with colour! I decided on going for full bleed images on some pages throughout the book, and have also opted for photo-spread layouts for the landscape perspective which are also showing fantastic contrast with the paper used which is ProLine Coated Pearl; I just like this paper and the cover itself is an oatmeal linen with standard mid grey end sheets and finished off with a high gloss hardcover dust jacket. 

The paper gives a superb look, a high dynamic range for great colour, rich blacks and superb contrast. 

A majority of the photos I shot during the scotia-pride event in Edinburgh were featuring people were rich vibrant coloured clothes, and this paper really shows how professional a look the photographs give. 
Moving on to the other locations, Chester offered a few surprises as did Blackpool, a fight took place and you can clearly see the public reaction, everyone honed into the area of interest, as though they were watching a scuffle in a school playground. It made for a very interesting shot I shot it with a zoom lens though; I prefer to get in closer with a 28mm F/2 Soligor or an F/1.8 MK II 50mm Canon. 

Prime lenses are ideal for street photography especially at night you can if using digital open the aperture up and adjust the ISO to 3200. You can get great results, I have tried using flash but straight away people will see that someone is taking photographs and you have lost the element of surprise. 

So it is much better using a higher ISO rating and the shots still have a great clarity about them, not so much noise. So if you like the look of the book please share the link, leave a comment or just give me some honest feedback would you have done something different, and if so what? 

One pattern I noticed that started to appear was the subject matter wherever I went people were asleep, day dreaming or was it the heat of the day and too much drink?

It truly is remarkable when you start viewing this and it then twigs in the mind this can be another book, and so that is exactly what I have started to work on, and why not after all the narrative is their I just have to go hunting. 

In fact the other day when I was itching to shoot something, I went for a stroll along the sea-front to see what subject matter was readily available, and I stumbled on a few ideas as I always do when am out walking. 

Model Shoot

During September I am going to be working on a new project with a friend who is an MUA (Make-Up Artist) 

Were going to be working on a few ideas mainly involving models so first up will be a shoot of one of Mita's  friends namely a transgender named Isis. We will be shooting a few fashion stills which sounds really exciting, am going to do this with a unique style that will hopefully incorporate some of the lighting skills, I have learned from reading the Strobist 101 blog if not read his invaluable source of lighting information, and his vast knowledge of lighting outdoors or indoors, I suggest you do. It's a great place to start. 

So the shoot will involve to some degree strobist lighting techniques, I will also be using my Canon EOS 1D MK II , for the simple reason it actually shoots at a maximum of 8.3 fps (frames per second) so it is marginally quicker than my EOS 60D. 

Which shoots at 5.3 fps (frames per second). Not just that but my pro camera is just that its designed for these type of shoots. It may have only 8.2 million megapixels but it is still a revered pro-camera. So with that one firmly penciled in the book, the other shoot is a bit more controversial in the offing, it certainly will raise a few eyebrows, so watch this space for information, what I will say is this the work has been inspired a number of elements one of those elements is Paula Rego the painter.

Exciting stuff indeed the Lisbon born painter has a very interesting style, it's very evocative, and I want that to really shine through in my photography, so for those who do not know of her work, seek her out, you will be amazed at her art!

As for me am going to admire my latest work, if your interested in purchasing a copy please do, you will be very pleased with the work.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Street Photography

Hello all, it's been a very sunny summer of late, and for once that makes me smile, the light has been truly fantastic. The other day though, I realised when shooting street, they're will be a change as they’re with the seasons in the year, and it will eventually rain! 

Not just that but the days get shorter and the sun gets lower in the sky, so I have a few options continue shooting street, in colour or adapt and make these street shots much more dramatic, you know give the shots a new narrative. 

I have been collating a few shots that will break down into separate genres of activity, these groups became quite interesting so here's a few I put together; 

Jumps people in active positions above the ground captured mid-air.

Sleepers people actually dozing in the street either on street furniture such as benches or parks or doorways. 
© 2013 David Rothwell

Statues juxtaposed with some comedy narrative.

Couples this one is very interesting as when am shooting the street; I have come across couples arguing or making up or in comedy situations.

Out of the ordinary whilst this may seem a strange ask; they're situations that will happen out there, those one in a million chances, however those chances usually take place at 1/1000 of a second. 

I regularly visit London and every time I always attend the Photo Forum it's a fantastic way of meeting like mind photographers/photojournalist. So I get to see these genres 'come to life', I just love the way the informed eye works. 

If you have ever studied books on street photography or street photographers, the first thing that hits you is the narrative in the frame, the composition should normally be a striking point within the frame that makes your eyes wander around the frame. 

In this shot we see that the subject is dozing away in the sun on the stone steps close to signage one states PANDORA.

Could it be Pandora’s Box perhaps?

We also see in the photograph that the subject is in possession of a crutch or aid walker. So how did he arrive here, and was the exertion so tiring that he literally fell asleep on the very spot, we find ourselves? 

So many possibilities for the narrative, could it had been the hospital waiting times?

Now we see that a lot of street shots tell a story, they're not just snap shots of an extraordinary event like some I have posted previously, if they are then they do possess the very aspect of which Henri Cartier-Bresson; adhered to. That is a decisive moment, a truly unique skill set that photographers can and do train their eye to read in any given situation, the likes of Garry Winogrand, Joel Meyerowitz and recently discovered photographer Vivian Maier. 

I study a lot of photographers work and their respective works are always full of new surprises, Meyerowitz himself studied the work of Cartier-Bresson. I too have become accustomed to training my eye to the subjective geometry in architecture but also the composition, and how people play a part in the composition. 

I shot a while ago, people on a beach and you can see the perfect triangle this is also shot from a higher perspective. 

Sometimes it's not all about eye level or waist/hip level to achieve a desired result, aerial photography has been around since the concept of aviation began its birth, and so too people documented streets from a higher perspective. 

Okay so we can see how people become much more interesting, from a higher perspective, but what about when we get low down and dirty?

In the next example we will look at the street from a much lower angle, lower angle is also a great opportunity to opt for a wider prime lens on your kit to achieve maximum impact in your shot.

I use a very nice Soligor f/2.8 28mm lens which is fantastic and gives a great sense from a lower perspective of actually stating that the photographer is getting physical in their work. 

Low perspective can have interesting results remember you don't have to get low down and dirty you can in-fact look above your height level when something catches your interest too. 

Quite a comical shot, which does leave one asking what? 

These moments I see are relative to my experience in photography, obviously with time they will sharpen, but you get my drift people see and do the strangest acts every day, and just like the current and past masters, so too will my ingenuity and originality in my approach to street photography. 

Earlier I mentioned Henri Cartier-Bresson, when you look at his work you will see emerging patterns in the constructive objective of angles and shapes, and yes I have talked about this before, and no doubt will talk about it again in the future. 

My advice is to get out there and start looking at narrative, let your pictures do the talking, and be more consistent in your approach with subject matter. 

After a while the long awaited and always looked for out of the ordinary moment will happen, when these shots do happen, it can be very rewarding and indeed with the right marketing can be very lucrative, most importantly you will begin to develop your own style. 

I suppose a good starter is colours people seemingly wear similar colours during the year, so possibly you may see people wearing yellow or you may see yellow objects. So in your composition you could try and involve those ideas and implement them in your approach to subject matter. 


Another lucrative idea is to purposefully shoot for one colour whilst this idea is not limited to street, looking at the examples it should give your creative thought - process a much needed boost. 

I have a few followers who do just that, in shooting this way you can begin to build up a stock portfolio of images which can be saleable for stock photography. 

Now if that's your bag, then your welcome to it, it can have such a huge return in being so open to all and sundry. 

The only danger is if you do go down that road, just shooting pictures for stock photography, are you going to lack artistic expertise elsewhere? Will you begin to suffer as an artist and become much more commercialised in your overall outcome?

I read other blogs and look for information on other photographers, because in reality it is the only known way of keeping up to speed with changes in current trends etc....

Now on that other blog they have a section were by you can get featured which means if any breaking photographers out there want to get their work out to the masses they can simply sign up for a subscription. 

It's important to liaise with other photographers because it is the best way to learn so get interactive, get pro-active and network.