Monday, 8 December 2014

Christmas is coming...

Wow such a long, long time since I've been seems too long. Things have changed for sure...I seem to be taking more pictures focused on actual happenings and events than the normal street photography I have done previously.

Since moving to a new University, things have gotten a lot better, the 'better' is the being able to photograph a true representation of life in the UK, it made me reminisce of the possibility of life being a student in the north of Britain, well Scotland actually to be a photographer there, rather than the hustle and the bustle of living in London.

However living in London does have its benefits I am much closer to mainland Europe, so only a forty minute flight to go and see family in France, (a real bonus) for photography of a different kind, or rather I should say photography of a different arena.

The one bonus of travelling there would be not just the French cuisine, but to see how my family are, especially since its coming up towards the end of another year, everybody is more or less a year older and yes the shape of things to come seems to increase ones size in more ways than one…yes it’s fucking Christmas (again)…I don’t want to come across as a party pooper, but it seems the older I get the novelty really does wear off...which is why hopefully so should the weight.

Yes, I can hear you screaming out who ate all the pies! Well err, surprisingly not me, I do like a mince pie…its just it gets too much. Same old, same old every year without fail, exuberant items going on sale in some dark hour that seemingly brings out the worst would be post apocalyptic shopper, there could ever be, Black Friday WTF!

My point entirely, why oh why do we have to be subjected to scenes such as this when they’re people around the world needing clothing, needing food, and needing shelter? Instead the beast of consumerism rears its ugly head and compels you buy in to the nightmare that is only a celebration of capitalism.

Christmas is a time for giving, not just having the latest gadget to exfoliate your hairier than your dog showpiece. I was stood outside the store United Colors of Benetton on Oxford Circus, Saturday. A protest against animal cruelty was being aimed at the London store, I know some of the items they sell are made of wait for it Eco-friendly fur…as opposed to non Eco-friendly fur?

Just what is Eco-friendly fur? Here’s a quote from a website pertaining to promote fur as a recyclable choice this winter:

I find it ironic that a store would claim to sell an Eco-friendly product; that does not contribute towards a sustainable green future, what I mean by that statement is the product does not directly affect the renewable energy supplies and therefore cannot be green? Secondly what furs do you know of that are abundant, a troublesome wolf perhaps, or a herd of Buffalo.

I think not, it just seems too far fetched to actually claim a product which has been slaughtered then justify its death by claiming it is green to do so.

Humanity has failed. 
Fur Trade Protest
© David Rothwell Photography

The other gripe this week came from a well known hotel, in fact Claridge’s where all the best dressed breasts can be seen 'literally' feeding their offspring, in a world that suggests breast is best (especially for baby) it seems that a mother Louise Burns actually, was told to cover up! Surely covering a child’s air space is tantamount to suffocating? How could such a perfectly natural act be offensive to human beings whom, themselves who have been borne of a mother, when such an act is taking place, whilst they’re feeding as well?

The mind boggles, none-the-less, Saturday it seems brought about a quiet protest of thirty something mothers and infants in tow to stage a ‘quiet’ protest outside Claridge’s. Female Police officers were in attendance, were by I was told by one such WPC that I was in the way, I was on the road were parking was available because I felt that standing on the pavement, I was in the way of the mothers and infants. I digress; their protest was however fairly quiet it was like looking at a newborns ward monthly reunion party, ironically. 
Breast is Best Campaign
© David Rothwell Photography

So Christmas is coming…just be careful you don’t buy any gifts a family member may take offence to and for the families sake cover the Turkey breast…when the Neighbours come round on Boxing Day.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

What makes great photography?

Throughout the history of photography, there have been countless great photographs taken by great photographers who have made such an impact on the art of photography, or the way we perceive the photograph that each time a photographer exhibits a new piece of work, we are enthralled by the way the photograph was taken, or what the photographer has left out by means of artistic intent.

So Saul Leiter for example was one such photographer who photographed the street at differing times of the day in all weathers literally, though his great photographs ere shot in such an abstract way, that the photograph becomes much more interesting.

Dorothea Lange when photographing for the Farm Security Administration, alongside others when she happened upon one Florence Owens Thompson, she photographed her in so many poses using wide angles then opted for a close-up which later became one of the most iconic photographs of the century, Migrant Mother
Migrant Mother Farm Security Administration
© Dorothea Lange

The portrait depicts a woman during the great depression and her children, though clothed are enduring the hardship of life, not unlike the children of other regions across the globe.

They are hungry and have moved across the dustbowl of America, the crops in the area offer very little. So Lange documented the daily lives of these people, to inform the affluent of the US, what was going on in their own backyard so to speak.

It does make compelling viewing, is it the fact that the children face in towards their mother whom offers support in the warmth of her bosom. Whilst the mother wears an outward appearance that seems to evoke such emotion, a worried face that draws upon the uncertainty of tomorrow.

What does this tell us; it states that on the surface America may seem glamorous yet this is actually a pretentious state, it is the art of deception. Making others think that everything is okay when actually it is not. 

A lot of photographers document the high rollers and the low lives; Garry Winogrand had this subject matter to a tee. Winogrand would pound the streets of America, he roamed so many places, and he would act as though he had a problem with his camera a trick he developed over time.

Does this make him a great photographer well yes and no, just like America he had an art of deception about him.

Broken nose in car
© Garry Winogrand
This is how he made such photographs, though he did also shoot remarkable stories that would be encapsulated in just one photograph, I would love to go through the immense catalogue of his works. 

However I would just like to share just this one photograph, which for me is unadulterated Garry Winogrand, he had a unique style not seen or practiced today.

Though to be honest one habit which seems to follow Leica® users is that they carry their camera slung around their necks, were as some people like myself will wrap around the wrist and arm which prevents someone trying to steal the camera, and thus your hard worked photographs.  

Another point about Garry Winogrand he is known for stating many points about his own photography,

Photography is not about the thing photographed. It is about how that thing looks photographed.

One photographer who hails from New York who thinks that this statement is ‘bullshit’ is Orville Robertson. Robertson is a co-curator of the committed Contemporary Black Photographers in the Brooklyn Museum.

He also goes on to say that Winogrand wasted a lot of film too, from a photojournalist perspective you want to make the shots count. McCullin would not have wasted film neither would Robert Capa.
Contemporary Black Photographers
© Orville Robertson

You get the shots but you do not shoot without regard to plans or inclination, so you have a greater understanding of the subject. Though when I first started out I was shooting anything really.

You get home and you view your shots and realise that some of them just look like happy snaps, and some do not. Now when I view my images they have improved in subject matter and some actually tell stories. This is what you should aim for when going out to the street.

You want your photographs to have a higher hit rate, so a good way to get into practice is to shoot film, because when I shoot film I limit the subject to may be one or two frames, but try and make those shots count, you want to aim for impact from the shoot.

So you want to have great photographs that will interest the viewer for years to come, you become more attuned to your surroundings, one way of doing this is to get out and try and shoot everyday, and to engage with your subjects.

The photographer Dougie Wallace makes a point of this which is clearly visible when viewing his works, his photographs are outstanding and are so in your face will be great photographs, in years to come he will be seen as one of the great photographers of the twenty-first century.

Photojournalist James Nachtwey
© James Nachtwey
The spirit of the human condition is captured throughout history by many photographers, some have witnessed the invasion of countries in Europe others elsewhere some have witnessed the horrific events of September 11 2002. James Nachtwey captured some incredible images during and after the event some thirteen years ago.

Some time later the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake, or even Hurricane Katrina would give up several interpretations of great photographs. Even today many aspiring photojournalists travel and document these areas of interest.

So what makes a photograph great the photographer or the moment they have captured? In reality it is the photographer who composes a photograph, though in this digital age everyone owns a phone with a camera, whom may be in the right place at the right time can capture a great photograph (London riots). 
London Riots Tottenham AP Photo/PA, Lewis Whyld
(AP Photo/PA, Lewis Whyld)

Though I do try to influence the moment, if I am caught off guard by persuading the subject to pose a particular way, so as to not look like it was taken in a staged manner.

Sometimes it pays off, sometimes not. Though if you have the confidence to build a rapport with your subject, you never know the outcome could be a great photograph. 

I must admit living in a city also helps, not just because they’re a lot people, and subjects to photograph but I have access to transport links which can take me out of the city and maybe go to another city a couple of hours away or farther.

If you’re feeling adventurous then you could plan a trip may be with a few other photographers or you could attend a photography workshop. Check out noticeboards on photography websites, or the magazines themselves.

Another way of getting involved with other photographers is to approach them if they’re shooting the street, or landscape or whatever they may be capturing at the time. I am always bumping into and socialising with other photographers. 

I always tend to watch them at first to see what they’re photographing you find out quickly if they’re street photographers, or just your run of the mill happy snapper. If they are shooting in an enthusiastic erratic manner, then you can safely bet the photographer is interested in what is happening before their eyes.

Many street photographers will create a montage of people, and interesting stories to create a great photograph. I have found that the Greek photographer Zisis Kardianos shoots definitely for storylines, and layers the photograph with interesting juxtaposition, and geometry the subjects seem to relate to each other somehow.

Zisis Kardianos
© Zisis Kardianos
This is how I have tried to inject this manner of shooting into my own style, layering subjects or mirroring certain content, try to look for similarities in hand gestures, colours etc. All these converge into the human element in the photograph.

This may be one of my last posts for a while also, as am back in to University and I am going to be working on a dissertation for a while.

I may pop by soon, until then laters!

Monday, 11 August 2014

Empire Strikes Back

From time to time we share our knowledge of literature, photography, film or any other form art. So when someone you follow and admire begins to share some literature, which is also accompanied by some of most prolific photographs of places, I have only ever heard of and not seen with my own eyes, well you begin to listen with ears pricked.

The context of the book is at first uncertain so I decide to look up the photographer, to get an idea of the person, I realise of course that the photographer is also published on Dewi Lewis Publishing, founded in 1994 its internationally known for its photography list.

I then investigate further and see a name I am familiar with after visiting the Open Eye Gallery, at Mann Island. That name is Charles Fréger he photographed a series of images that depict a link between man and beast and the cycle of life and that of the seasons too.

His work Wilder Mann is an outstanding piece of work, it focuses on the transformation of man into beast through the interpretation of traditional pagan rituals, these rituals differ slightly from region to region as do the images of the beasts.
© Charles Fréger

It reminded me of a conversation I had with British photographer Iain McKell, and the relationship between British identity and traditional beliefs. The conversation took place after meeting Iain at a seminar at Calumet photographic shop in Drummond Street, London.

When you view Iain’s works Beautiful Britain and The New Gypsies we begin to understand the link to identity and the way the people live, all photography is thus a documentary it is a portrait of life.

This style of photography has always had me hooked from the start; I guess it’s the learning process, the education of viewing another culture and learning from that experience through education and stimulation of ones intellect.

I like to think that is what drives me to progress further with my own photography, as I wish to produce much more work, work that will interest a future generation. Who knows it may become something much more than that. I also like to read other blogs too, though am the type of person who likes to censor what blogs I do follow or read, so I specifically choose something of which is relevant to the direction I wish to choose.

So if you’re into wildlife photography, you could follow blogs relative to that subject, so that you become more accustomed to that genre or style of photography work. It is the best way to interact with those you wish to follow.

Other books I found of interest on the list was one that Dougie Wallace had also shared on his own page, this book was relative to the identity of Britain and that of the Britishness that describes our tribe and associates that identity to the old empire, hence the title Empire, the book by British born photographer Jon Tonks is a remarkable collection of photographs that evoke so much emotion considering the current state of the empire. 
© Jon Tonks

Empire is a fascinating journey across the South Atlantic exploring life on four remote islands – the British Overseas Territories of Ascension Island, Tristan da Cunha, the Falkland Islands and St. Helena ­– relics of the once formidable British Empire, all intertwined through their shared history. - Christopher Lord

Now when I refer to the current state of the empire, I am of course referring to the possible independence of Scotland. Glasgow has recently enjoyed huge success with the commonwealth games. All these people from a wider colonial empire, and in some manner still representing a state of mind of a wider colonial empire whether it is from an Australian perspective or from an Indian.

It’s hard to think if you are only in your youth that Britain was once a huge empire that covered a quarter of the globes landmass. Since that time photography has documented so much and it is great to see that some British photographers, still think of Britain in such a way as to document its ever-changing face.

Which brings me on to the next piece of photographic literature and Dougie Wallace’s third book entitled Shoreditch Wild Life

The new book by Dougie is full of fantastic shots captured in the usual in your face style that has become Dougie’s inspiring, fresh, and evocative trademark. If any you follow his work you will know of his works including Road Wallah which is a fascinating look at the black and yellow Fiat taxis driven in what was known as Bombay now Mumbai, India.

The reason for this was the gradual phasing out for the new sleeker vehicles that would meet European Emission Standards. So those iconic cars had to be documented some how and so it was Dougie Wallace who takes up the mantle and thus creates an interesting look at the culture of Mumbai from a cab drivers perspective. 
© Dougie Wallace

With Shoreditch: Wild Life Dougie Wallace not only proves he’s here very much a street photographer, but a great photojournalist who has the inclination of capturing images that we can relate to in our own little mannerisms, we see ourselves in everyday life, those little nuances of humor we recognise in ourselves that seem to amplify, when captured at 500th of a second.

We begin to see time stop and these moments forever held with the incongruous and evocative style we have come to love from Dougie.

These photographs are very touching and quite dramatically so. If you have not seen his work I suggest you look at “Stags, Hens and Bunnies”. If you have ever been to Blackpool on a weekend for a night out or Stag or Hen weekend you will know how this is for so many couples across the UK and beyond. 
© Dougie Wallace

I myself am always bumping into Stags and Hens in Liverpool, Manchester, and London. I did a couple of trips around the United Kingdom last year for shots on my own book We The People I found Blackpool a great place to shoot as a street photographer, so if you ever venture north of Watford you're in for a great shoot.

Keep your wits about you, and you can progress onto greater things, one thought that always crosses my mind when I am shooting.

What I have learned from Dougie Wallace is be tenacious in your beliefs and you will be rewarded. The human condition opens up all possibilities, so many characters, and so many stories.

All the afore mentioned photographers have developed these skills and honed them to look for and capture the human condition, any gesture a couple hugging, a dog peeing against a piece of street furniture, a cabbie shouting. 

All these things add to the everyday drama unfolding in our lives.

Until the next time, keep clicking.