Sea side and cinema..

Up here in the North there isn't a whole lot going on, but like many small towns theres always the cinema. And so after a day along the coastline, head wind burnt and feet salty wet I headed for the local picture house.
I do have photographs of cinemas, and of course the coastline, but I thought it would be nice to look at these...
I have admired Hiroshi Sugimoto's work ever since I saw his show in Hamiltons, London, some time ago and heard him talk at the Serpentine Gallery way back in 2001. My favorite body of
work is by far the cinema screen series (see above) but I also love his Seascapes which I tend to think a lot of photographers try to mimic, but rarely do they get across the shear subtle qualities Sugimoto's imagery.. So often the most simple of images are the hardest to produce, well at least thats what I have discovered and I am sure Hiroshi is no different.
What did strike me when I seen his talk is how utterly modest he was in regards to his work. It was almost as if he thought he was going to be found out for producing beautiful images. Maybe the cinemas where tiny models shot in a studio and the Seascapes made in his bath, but I doubt it.

Theres only one Marcus Doyle...

For those of you that may of come across a Marcus Doyle blog with photographs of tigers and flowers, its not me. And Mr. Doyle if you are reading this I hope you find it of interest...

A trip to the Homeland...

A trip to the homeland always brings back memories of a younger self in a time when one would go for walks through the mountain passes, drink from the crystal flowing waters, and maybe make a daisy chain.
I thought I would try and get some of my 'By Coastal' project done before I jet off overseas and although fully equipped I was missing some canned air, a product I consider to be one of the biggest cons of the 21st century, they may as well put it in a bag. But as I had to load a fair few dark slides I needed the 'Air Supply' (what a band they where) and had no choice. Now, I have come to accept that buying film out of London is a pretty grim reality and most of the young generation don't even know what film is with quotes like "Film, is that was my grandpa used to use in the 1930's" but when you can't purchase a can of air but can have a photograph put on a T Shirt, or a cup, or a coaster, or a towel, or a cushion, or a bag, or made into a tattoo, or better still buy a digital camera for five pence, It leaves me wondering where all the 'trapped air' is. So I guess its back to blowing spit all over my dark slides, unless I can catch some air in a bin bag..

By the way the picture above was not of my youth, (I know you thought it was), it was taken in my printing days when I was very stressed most of the time but surprisingly still had my hair. Can you believe I am still doing that pose....



I'm off shooting in Europe for the month of May but will try to squeeze a few random waffles out here and there.
Wonder if anyone will notice...

Thought Of The Week (just like Steve Wilkos, used to be on Jerry Springer)

I spent this week researching projects along with a lot of admin. In other words paying all my photography related bills which all seem to come in at once and all seem to be twice as much as any profit. I really try to keep on top of all this especially if certain labs or suppliers have given me an account but there are times when the necessities of life get in the way like a nice new pocket knife or a Indian Head Message.
From my commercial lab and other photographic industries experience tells me that photographers are noted as being notoriously bad at paying up. Be it for prints, equipment hire, retouch fees, goodies from the studio fridge etc. However, experience has also taught me that with regards to the industry photographers tend to get the wet end of the mop. The knock on effects of a company (including galleries) not paying on time can be devastating. But I want to encourage photographers to keep on trucking because lets face it the rewards from a photographic career far out weigh the negatives.
I leave you with a quote from Terence Donovan, a notoriously bad bill payer (yes I printed a bit for him)
"If you owe someone money, Its not you that should be worried, Its the person you owe"

Shot Of The Week

I have been staring at the image above for ten minutes and just find it mesmerising, not sure why, I just love it. I came across Mattieu Gafsou on another blog and if you have a look at his site I am sure you will know what I mean if I say it looks like he's just getting started.
As I tend to always have some kind of connection to anyone or anything I mention on this swarve blog you may be wondering what on earth this one could be. Well I made a photograph of a skateboard park just like this one a few years ago. But mine is very different. I would include it here but the Doyle archive is vast and I'm not sure what I filed it under. What I do remember is almost being struck down by a Professional Mexican Midget Skate Boarder called Cheeko (You couldn't make it up). He told me he could bench press 300 pounds and would kick my ass if I didn't move my camera. Not wanting to get on the wrong side of the fierce hobbit, I finished my exposure and left amid the cheers and four letter words...


Weston and his ways...

I have always held Edward Weston in the highest regard, not because of his nudes, which I never liked, or because of his landscapes, which never moved me. Even his beautiful still life studies never gave me the wow factor. It was in fact Weston's Day books that blew me sideways. I believe these give an insight like nothing ever published regarding photography and the photographer and are as relevant now as they where when first written. If you have not done so I would urge you to read these wonderful passages of thought, feelings and the frustrations we all share as creative people. I read all the Day Books when I was a student and again when I first began printing (something Weston himself did for others from time to time and grew to despise as much as I did) They were a wonderful influence back then and still are now when drinking vast amounts of coffee or orange juice (see Day books)
I think its fair to say that The Day Books humanise Weston and you come away realising he is just another photographer, but what a photographer...

One thing I have realised over the years is that sometimes in order to enjoy photography it is sometimes better to know nothing at all about the photographer and the techniques involved. I have mentioned this before in other posts were people always want to know 'so much' about how an image was made right down to the last detail. Let me give you an example of what I mean: The Image above of the Pepper was not just a pepper Weston found lying around in a cupboard (ohhh look at this crazy squashy pepper, wheres my camera) This is what I had always thought and used to think how amazingly lucky they where in the Weston house to have such fancy looking peppers. No, no, no, this was only one of the many that where taken. I should of known this from the fact that the shot is titled Pepper Number 30. Anyhow what I am trying to say is that once I learnt the truth, it kind of took the magic away. After all Weston only wanted us to see one pepper and not a cupboard full.

Tale of the gum ball...

One of my first jobs in the 'industry' was hand processing black and white film. A dirty smelling job involving many hours in the pitch black sloshing around chemicals and thinking of days in the sunshine running through corn fields hand in hand with some pretty girl (it was all you could do to keep you from going insane). Many times I would revert back to my choir singing days and belt out a few songs, always with the danger of stop bath splashing into my mouth and burning my precious tonsils.
Back in the day it was not uncommon for a lot of photographers to shoot 10/8 black and white sheet film and on this particular day one of the worlds most famous was shooting in the UK and needed his film extra quick (don't they always). I am mentioning no names for obvious reasons but here is a clue.
I loaded the sheet film into the stainless steel racks (in the dark of course) and proceeded with my usual method of lowering the rack into the tank of liquid developer. Before entering the cave of darkness I had shoveled several pieces of gum into my mouth to try and stop the chemical fumes leaving a nasty after taste as they would normally do (not the safest job in the world, and no I do not have three testicals).
I started to agitate the film and It wasn't long until I broke into song, it also wasn't long until the gum ball in my mouth fell out mid chorus and into the developing tank wedging its self in between the sheets of precious film... I often think back to that day and wonder what would of happened if I had continued the process and only sacrificed two sheets of film instead of pulling that light cord. Anyway, I found the piece of gum, but I never put it back in my mouth....I'm not that stupid....


JB Fitts..

I met Mr Fitts when I was living in LA while using a hire darkroom to do my colour prints. I say I met Mr Fitts but it was more the fact he was always there when I was. I was going to say that he started to wear the same clothes as myself and started to shave his head just like me. Of course this is not true, I just wanted to make things more interesting, but wouldn't that of been a good read....
I did see a lot of the 'No Life Guard On Duty' work (see above) as it progressed at the darkroom but took the liberty to see his LA show which to be honest left me a little cold. I am not sure if it was the fact that I don't have much interest in empty swimming pools or just the fact there was not much 'variety.' Once you've seen one empty swimming pool you've seen them all springs to mind, but I think its more the fact that they are all American and therefor all have a similar look and feel about them (would of preferred empty swimming pools of the world, now theres an idea). This is certainly not a dig at Mr.Fitts because a lot of his work I really do like (the golf series being my favorite). The main reason I wanted to mention this particular body of work is that I admire the approach and dedication Fitts has shown towards this particular project. Its one thing to travel back and forth across America covering thousands of miles snapping away at any old toot (something I was prone to myself) but its another to knuckle down un-distracted and stick to a brief (personal or commercial) In this respect I take my woolly hat off to JB Fitts.
By the way Mr Fitts probably has no clue as to who I am, but maybe if he reads this blog (is anyone reading this blog..?) he may remember the time I said "Did you do a pre-fog on that print"
Now where's my speedos...



Josef Saudek (Doyle on Collecting)

I do have a small collection of photographs, some are framed, some are waiting to be framed (I hate the thought of boxed up prints as you the regular reader will know). I have always gone for the inspirational photograph so there is no pattern to my meager collection.
I have always liked the thought of being given a nice old photograph, which never has and probably never will happen which is a shame because I have 'gifted' many a print, even if it is just to see a tear and a smile...
My mother has the best collection of photography I have every seen. All nicely framed and displayed in a flowery room. Its like looking at a twenty year retrospect of my work..
I think most of us have a few images we would like originals of. You may think I would opt for a nice big Meyerwitz or an even bigger Misrach. But no, I like the old stuff and Josef Sudek (not to be confused with Jan Saudek) floats my boat and heats my pipes. The nice thing about Sudek's work is that compared to so much vintage work it is still affordable (in collecting terms) and was never mass produced like some vintage stuff. Lets face it how many galleries have the 'later' print of the Horst corset shot (not the early platinium 10/8 contact version). Have a look, its quite a few. Elton John has one as do a few people I know, I have one, but of course its a postcard. My point being is that here are examples (see above) of images I love and will hopefully one day obtain. They are wonderful, but not too popular. Basically they belong in my house...
Anyone wishing to buy one of my prints should contact my Mrs. Doyle my loving mother.

Just Waite Here...

I am sure if you are at all interested in landscape photography you will have heard of Charlie Waite or perhaps have one of his many wonderful books. Although he may be classed by some as a 'traditional landscape photographer' (a term I really don't like and means diddly) I think he is very much beyond that but although he is revered among 'amateurs' and the 'general public' I don't think a lot of pros, or should I rephrase that, 'Art Photographers' (another term I hate) rate him at all. I have heard some mention his heavy use of filters which also bothers me because I think he is one of the few that uses filters well and I certainly don't see a 'Tony Scott style' Top Gun sky...Charlie is shooting (or was ) Transparency film after all and I challenge anyone to produce fine landscapes without a grad filter or two...
Just to be clear and technicalities aside I have nothing but the highest regard for Charlie Waite's work. Anyways, I met Charlie some years ago when (you guessed it) I was printing and have yet to meet a more charming, warm and open person. He even offered to get me on a couple of his workshops as a tutor but I quickly declined the kind offer and here is why.
I believe you can teach someone to take a photograph, but you cannot teach someone to make a photograph. All these people going to the most fantastic of places and all of them coming back with the same set of pictures taken at the same time of day.....Utterly pointless....
I remember one trip I did to Monument Valley when I set off through the desert in the dark of early morning to capture the first light on the Three Sisters Buttes. As I approached the Buttes I noticed what looked like a parking lot full of cars. I found a space and proceeded to the vantage point I had in mind. It was like War Of The Worlds there were so many tripods. Everyone waiting for the sun to come up. I swore a little and then returned to my car to swear some more...It was from that day on I learnt to despise the photographic holiday and everything that went with it..
Back to Charlie and I will finish off by saying It takes a certain type of person/photographer to share everything like Charlie Waite does. His knowledge, his patience, his enthusiasm. And although I would like to think I have these attributes as a photographer, I am more of a caretaker than a teacher....


Thought Of The Week (Just Like Jezza Kyle)

My week has been spent mostly on research for my next project. Always a strange time as its something I don't particularly enjoy and sometimes the mind does wonder, especially using the Internet. But temptations of 'Millie And Her Giant Willy' aside (not real I might add) I wanted to point out that I rarely plan a project before I have actually shot it. The project usually comes afterwards. A certain image may link to another in some way, or create a series that can be added to and improved. With the Urban Landscapes, it was not until I had around twenty images all laid out in front of me that I saw patterns and similarities in the way I had shot things and the potential of an ongoing project. What I am trying to say is that I believe a lot of photography relies on instint first and foremost (this is regarding personal work, not commissioned) I always raise an eyebrow (I actually raise two as I can't do just one) when someone tells me what there next ten series of images is going to look like because personally I don't think you really fully know until you do it...
So next time I say I have been researching a project, all it means is; Arranging transport and accommodation, costs involved, and if they have internet access so I don't miss Millie..


Week of the Shot...

Hope you like the new title, just trying to keep things interesting...
Now and again I see an image I just wish I had discovered myself and created my own version. Today's shot of the week is just that. I love everything about this image, the overall content, the brilliant composition, the soft pink light and the traces of frost on the ground..
I first came across Terry Falke's work when I went to see Carol McCusker (who wrote the forward to this beautiful book) at MOPA in San Diego. She was kind enough to show me some of Tezza's 20/24" prints which were beautiful and have stayed in my mind ever since.
The book is by Chronicle Books and well worth the money.

Ahhh, There it is.....

Every so often I come across an image that has lay dormant for some time, years in some cases and usually in the form of a negative that hasn't been proofed. All alone in a dark box somewhere, forgotten and rejected waiting to see the light and become covered in greasy finger prints...
There are many reasons why this might happen, the lost and found scenario (not too common thankfully) is the most obvious, but with me its usually because I have simply forgotten I ever took the picture in the first place. The image above is a great example of what I am talking about. Not only did I forget about it as a negative, it lay un-processed in a box for over a year. Of course there is a very good reason for this. When I was mid exposure the fellow that owned the car (big, hairy and a little mean) got in the car and drove off leaving me looking at an empty parking space. The exposure was only a fraction of what I would normally do, so I didn't think it would be any good so I just wrote it off...
It was actually six years before I got round to printing this one and I have to say I rather like it. You can even see the headlight beam which is a nice touch and one of those 'if you took the same shot again it would be different' kind of things. I also like the mis spelling of Billiards, or maybe thats the American way like with COLOUR....


Why oh why......

Every time I venture out with my camera I constantly ask myself 'why, oh why, am I lugging this piece of furniture up mountains, across rivers and into the abyss....' Sometimes (in fact most of the time) I feel like I am fighting with nature, be it the wind (big problem) the rain (not so bad), the heat (bit sticky), the cold (easy), or the odd hoodie (depends how many...)
Its only when I get those big lovely negs back from the lab that it all makes sense. The tonal qualities, the colour saturation, the detail etc...
What I do find strange is that although I am led to believe there are hundreds of people out there making pictures supposedly with large format cameras (if you believe the forums) why then do I never see them.. Maybe its the simple fact that I am just too dam original (I jest), or maybe they are all just too sensible. I mean who in there right mind would venture up the side of volcanic crater in 120 degree heat with sixty pounds of gear on there back. (nice shot though)

Large format is a love hate thing for me with regards to the above statements and there are times when I have thrown dark slides across the mighty plain in sheer frustration and anger, or as I like to call it 'Passion'. But, I imagine if it was all that easy everyone would be doing it which according to my extensive travels they are not....
Now excuse me while I go and pump some iron.


A Tale From The Bedroom.

I would like to think that the image above is the one that was on my bedroom wall in the eighties along side my 'Busby' poster. It was free with 'Science Now Magazine'. Sadly it is not the exact same image, the original had a 'key light' blue sky and a different angle, but let us pretend just for a moment that it is that very image. I must have only been seven or eight at the time, but I loved this picture so much and imagined that I was there waiting for take off. It was such a magical image to me at the time and I do believe it may have influenced me very early on before I even picked up a camera. The light, the atmosphere and the fact that like a lot of boys at that age I wanted to go into space.
On several occasions I have thought of this image whilst taking a certain shot and it has always stayed with me after all these years.
It is fascinating how early experiences and memories can influence us after the hair has gone and the weighing scales are no longer accurate.
A few years later I replaced the poster of the shuttle with a Rambo poster and then a sexy lady with her hair frozen in mid flight. But if I had to choose between action adventure, teenage lust or the mystery of the cosmos now, thats right, it would be Rambo...
There are two great articles over on the conscientious blog at the moment. 'This Has Been Done Before" and "New and Used". I thought I would draw your attention to these rather than plagiarise them myself.
Conscientious is my favorite amongst all this bloggeroonie business, just hope he doesn't mind me sending people there when I cant be bothered to write, but why would he..


Billy B..

Lets face it, his parents may not of been British (Russian) and he may have been born in Germany, but Bill Brandt spent most of his time in Britain and was hailed as a great British Photographer.....If you want more detailed info on the old chap see here There is also a lot of nice stuff here if your interested...
I always liked the story about the old 'police' camera he found and used it to produce his nude work, although I am not sure how accurate this may be. I also remember a slightly more disturbing story late in his life where upon his death bed people tried to get him to sign his work to in order to make money which would of been bad enough, but he did not die and lived for some time afterwards. I believe there was a spot of bother, but again accuracy on this is not great...
I did print some of Brandt's works some time ago when I was printing black and white in Chelsea. They where the hardest negs I have ever tried to print because there was very little contrast to be had and the original I was trying to match had tons of contrast. See above image.
It was not so much that I was heavily influenced by Brandt's work, there was just a lot of books and exhibitions of it around when I was discovering photography.
Before I left for America there was a show of Brandt's work at the Focus Gallery in 2003 (sadly no longer around which really stinks because they used to represent me). They where not vintage prints (even though they had exhibited these in the past) neither where they the ones I had printed. They where actually Platinum prints, made by copying a print to make a big neg and then contacting the neg. They where the furthest from the original as you could possibly get, but this didn't stop people from snapping them up, even with a big edition number. I only mention this because I had handled a few originals and they where exquisite..
Not sure what my point is here but Bill Brant is one of those historic photographers you just gotta mention....And he was British.......


Trevor Leighton and the Rusty Red Ford Capri....

I first contacted Trevor Leighton some twenty years ago when I had hair and a more youthful look. As he is was from the same birthplace as myself (Carlisle, Cumbria, The Great Border City) I thought what better a photographer to ask for work experience. I sent him some of my black and white portraits and told him how much I wanted to be a photographer, just like him.
I did love the quality of Trevor's work and it did inspire me early on to take to the streets and photograph the local 'old bloke' types you may call characters.
About a week later I received a phone call from Trevor asking if I would like to come down to London and learn something about portrait photography. I said "very much please Mr. Leighton"
"Well then, do you have money and a place to stay." He replied.. Well I knew know one in London and my wages from my part-time Tesco job did not suffice so I never made it on that occasion.
It was a year later that I met Trevor after he had a small exhibition in the Town Hall of Carlisle called 'Homecoming' There was a talk by him after the show and I was lucky enough to get tickets. At the end of the talk I asked a lot of questions including "Do you remember that I called you last year for some works experience" He did, and we arranged to meet at his parents house the next day for an in depth chat.
The following day I arrived at Trevor's parents house and beheld the array of 10/8 framed prints adorning the hallway. What I remember the most about my visit wasn't so much the advise I was given (which was basically, well you can't assist me because I already have an assistant. So find someone else and assist them for a bit) but the fact that his late father spent an hour trying to sell me his bright red Ford Capri Gear with a big stainless steel exhaust. The very words, "this is a young fellas car, look its got a sporty exhaust and goes like shit off a shovel" still tickle me even now. I was only sixteen at the time.
When I eventually moved to London some six years later I did see a fair bit of Trevor when I was working as an assistant in various studios. A real Northern character, he always remembered the tale of that rusty red Capri Gear... Still never got to assist him though...

What A Jem.

I first came across Jem Southam's work in a lab in London. The 30/40" print I was collecting looked like a contact sheet next to the huge print (see above) hanging floor to ceiling. It was a mesmerising image, so sharp, silky and thee dimensional.
I have always enjoyed images that I would never think of doing or have little interest in doing myself. I believe it broadens the scope of a photographer to take on board other peoples work in this way and find I am personally more influenced by this kind of work than say work which some may regard as similar in tone to my own. Jem's use of natural light and large format technique are just a few of the things I love here.
There isn't a great deal of Southam's work online but there are some beautiful books and he has exhibited widely. I also believe he is head of department at Exeter School of Art and Design.


Let me cry over CGI.........

I tend to look a ton of stuff online over the weekends. But this weekend was a seemed a little different. Almost all of the websites I looked at where totally digital in content (from start to finish). In other words created through CGI (computer generated image). It suddenly struck me that this was the way people were not just moving in, they had moved...
Nothing seems real anymore and its a little heartbreaking to me to see craftsmanship go the way of the super-chip. As I have mentioned before I am not against the technology, but I am against using it to replace an idea. Let us enhance the image, not replace it.
Now I have got that off my chest, time to do some work.

Nighty Night....

If you have had the pleasure of looking at some of my work you may have noticed that I almost always include sky in my images. In most cases, especially the night work, 'If the sky ain't right' then I don't proceed with the shot. This is the way it has always been for me and I believe the right sky can make all the difference, after all it can make up a large area of the final image. Its the ultimate backdrop....
I have spoken a little regarding the night sky in a couple of interviews, including the one in my future book, (my apologises they are not on you tube) but its worth going over again.
My earlier work was always shot between dusk and twilight, the problem here is you have to work quick as you only have a small window of 'key light,' an Image like the Bus Shelter on my website is a good examples of this. This 'key light' can last anything from a few magical minutes (especially in the West with places like California etc) to a few crazy seconds. I have missed so many shots shooting this way, usually whilst faffing with my camera...There are of course exceptions to this depending on time of year and location. In Iceland in July/ August it lasts all night.....
When I acquired my 10/8 view camera I knew working fast was not really an option and wasn't sure if I could pull of night work with the metal monster.
After Twilight when there is no moon the sky goes very black. I would never choose to shoot at this time but soon discovered that if you wait a few hours the sky begins to fill with light. If the sky is overcast the clouds fill with mercury vapour from street lamps and pick up all kinds of other ambient light that's quietly bouncing around...With a long enough exposure this light can be captured on film with marvelous effect. I also discovered that the brightest night sky's tend to be just before it rains, especially within the city limits....
So theres a little bit of technical knowledge which I feel is well worth a mention as it plays such a big part in my images. One thing I didn't mention is that this kind of working after twilight and deep into the night takes a lot of time and with it patience. I always want to tell people the amount of effort involved when creating night images, but tend to be a bit more modest and tell them its easy.....


one more before the weekend...

Theres a great little piece over on 2point8 regarding Joel Meyerwitz and his view on some of this contemporary photography thats knocking around. Just thought I would squeeze this one in before I sign off for the weekend.. Well worth a listen...
Ta Ta.


Thought Of The Week (just like Oprah)

Although no one has stopped me in the street yet or sent death threats and Ransom notes, I do seem to have acquired a small readership. This is great as it keeps me off My Face (Facebook and Myspace) and is more of an incentive to write.
I will always try to keep the blog light hearted as there is just too much seriousness around these days. So if your feeling a little blue, enter my little world for a few minutes.
I will leave you with this:

Whats the difference between a large Pepperoni Pizza and an aspiring photographer?
A large Pepperoni Pizza will feed a family of four.......

Shot Of The Week (gone, forgotten, remembered)

How could I of forgotten Jeanloup Sieff He was possibly the biggest influence for me early on when I was printing in my blacked out bedroom with a safe light made from an old Brill Cream pot. I just loved the heavy contrasty prints and tried whenever possible to use my grade 4 Agfa Record Rapid to make my prints just like his. Most of my printing skills developed (excuse the pun) from those days in my little flowery bedroom on an enlarger made from a 40 watt bulb and a large bake bean tin (I kid you not).
Jeanloup Sieff was a bigger influence than Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Bill Brant, Irving Penn and all the other old boys. Maybe it was because Sieff's books where in the local library and the others were not, or maybe Sieff just struck a cord. I remember no one else liking him much, but what did my parents and thirteen year old friends know....
When I think back now I remember how I used to want to be just like Jeanloup. I did have a very romantic notion of him and imagined myself smoking cigarettes and telling the ladies how beautiful they are in a husky French accent...
I have claimed the image at the top (the cafe) as Shot Of The Week and it remains in my top ten favorite images to this day.
Top ten favorite images, now theres an idea..

There Are No Collectors, Just People With Money.

The New York AIPAD show starts today (Association of International Photography Art Dealers). I have been in a few AIPAD shows in the past, but not so much now for reasons I will not go into just yet... This is going back to what I was saying about collectors who buy and the 'general' public who buy and the fact I would rather have the young couple buying a print than a 'box it up collector'. Although this may shoot me in the foot in sales terms, its just how I feel. But for all the hundreds of serious collectors out there, please feel free to give me a call.
I never really know what people do with my work once they acquire it. I sometimes get a letter, or an email saying where they have hung the print and how pleased they are with it which is very uplifting. I also get requests for detailed information on a certain image, this is something I always make special time for if someone has spent there hard earned cash on one of my pieces.
I should point out that I think the biggest insult to a photographer (or any other creative for that matter) is to be asked for a discount and I find it somewhat disrespectful. This especially happens at Art Fairs. I was once approached by a chap at Paris Photo who wanted to buy ten big prints and get a 50 percent discount, luckily I was surrounded by lots of beautiful French women who found my English charm irresistible and did not wish to make a scene. I guess I could of not told the gallery and they would of lost their 50 percent commission....But that's just not my bag. If a buyer gets a discount, its usually offered and due to the fact they are regular contributors to the Doyley Fund.
What ever the situation regarding a sale , I always regard it as the ultimate complement if someone buys one of my images. I find it quite ironic that I probably couldn't afford to buy my own work. But at least I would get a nice discount.


Edgar Martins and the Hot poo.

I have had an eye on the mysterious work of Edgar Martins for some time now and was intrigued enough to buy the February/March edition of Hotshoe. I do have one of Edgar's books, The Diminishing Present (what a title) and although interesting with a good few whoppers I do not think it is his strongest body of work, nor am I overly keen on his 'The Accidental Theorist' series that the AOP went nuts over. Despite this there is a lot of Edgar's work that I do like and I am looking forward to seeing his new book Topologies.
Back to the Edgar Martins piece in Hotshoe and what a flaming waffle of an interview. The first eleven fair sized paragraphs make no sense to me whatsoever. It does bother me when images are over examined and whafflized like this and I do not think it puts the photographer in a good light. Its not often I criticise writing , as I am certainly no writer myself, but I came away with nothing from this article.
Simply put I think Edgar Martins work speaks for itself and does not need a recipe of flour, milk and eggs (waffle mix).
Drifting away slightly from my thoughts on Martins I continued to read my Hotshoe with its 'Fresh Perspectives on Contemporary Photography' . I have always thought Hotshoe was a quality magazine but have found it a bit hit and miss recently, so imagine my dismay when I turned over to page 60 'The Role of a Picture Director- OK Magazine"....I was hoping it would be Heat or better still Nuts.
And no you wont be seeing my work in Hotpoo anytime soon....

Sale starts Sunday.....

I was chatting with my very good friend Max the other day and he asked me if I ever had any idea of what work will sell, and sell well, and which would just not sell at all (with regards to gallery work). The answer I gave was; "If I did know I would be a very rich and I would be buying you lunch, make mine medium rare...."
Countless times over the years galleries (with no disrespect to them) and other people have tried to tell me what they think will sell well. I even try to tell myself. But the truth is one persons 'favorite image' may not necessarily but someone else's, and I think its fair to say that most of the time this is how people gage the market in terms of who will buy what, I think they call it 'a gut instinct.'
My favorite images rarely sell well and I believe this is because I am connected to them in a different way to say a third party. Most people that buy my work usually do so for several reasons:

1.They have been to a particular place and a certain image reminds them of it and the memories associated with it, so they get the feel good factor.

2.They are collecting work based on a certain theme and my work happens to be part of it.

3.They have fallen in love with me and want to help me out (the most common obviously)

4.They are looking to invest, and have been recommended the work by a third party (this is rare in my case but does happen)

5.They just want a nice picture in there front room they can talk about over dinner.

6.I have a sale on.....

Of course two of these are not true, but the rest seems to be the usual method of people buying work.

The above image (monument diner) from my website is one of my best sellers, people love it, each one for a different reason. But its far from my favorite, and doesn't say a great deal about my photography.
The second image (windmill) on the other had is one of my very favorites, I could talk about it for hours......but not a sniff (not yet anyway)
Regardless of why people want to buy any of my images, I would always prefer the young couple who have saved up for an image they adore to go on there wall, than say the silent collector who will put it in there temperature controlled room, in an acid free box never to see the light of day.


My, thats a long one.........

Well this could of been me today holding my very own Art Panoramic 6/24cm camera. I picked up a beaten up version a few days ago with the intention of cleaning it up and heading for the hills. I thought I had it in the bag foolishly thinking all the lenses from my 5/4 kit would fit and work perfectly..... Balls was the word that sprung to mind having got back my test rolls, blurred as grandad's glasses. Further testing told me that although the lenses did fit, the rear element (which is bigger than standard lenses as all my lenses are fast so good for focusing in low light) did not allow the lens to get close enough to the film plain to focus..
As I don't intend to spend a fortune on a new set of lenses, the camera will be returned and perhaps I will weep a little...I know its pathetic....
Throughout my photographic career (what career I hear you say) I have always been quoted the line "Its not the camera, its the photographer that makes the picture" well that all depends on what kind of camera you use. Don't think I could pull it off with an old 110 or a disc camera from Boots.


destruction and decay

I was living in America and on the road traveling when I heard news of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. I was actually making my way back to California from Alabama and had left early due to the weather reports. When New Orleans was flooded I did think about turning around and heading out there to photograph the devastation, but apart from the fact I had no press pass, I also felt I had no right to do such things. After all I was an Englishman in a foreign country with no attachment to New Orleans in any way. Now this is no dig at the photographers that went to photograph the aftermath of Katrina, far from it, I believe things like this need to be documented and it was indeed the photographers with press passes who gained access to the worst hit areas.
I mentioned briefly in my Todd Hido post about how far some people go to get an image. I think both Katrina and 911 are good examples of how photographers have rushed to a disaster in order to permanently record it. But why make the images so beautiful.? I have done this myself after the fires in California last February, I even waited for the light to change in order to get the best shot. I think a lot of it has to do with instinct and a method of working, but I also think if its something that's going to be looked at for a long time why not make it that little bit more pleasing to the eye, this is a big temptation in a charged environment such as a disaster zone.
I do think there is a very fine line here with this kind of work and I believe it would be very wrong to profit from an others hardship. For example, if someone lost there home in a flood, its one thing documenting it, but its another thing hanging a big expensive print on a gallery wall and making a tidy profit for oneself. (this seems appropriate)
There has been some magnificent work produced from the most terrible disasters and may be that's a way to except that these things have happened and move on, Its a heated topic I don't feel comfortable dwelling on to be honest, but one only has to look at the work of Chris Jordan or Robert Polidori (see above) to see that there really can be beauty in destruction and decay.

I should mention that my Salton Sea project is of a similar nature to the above content, as is my work on the California bush fires. I am glad to say that permission was granted to do both subjects and even though I consider the Salton work to be more about 'beauty in decay' (not devastation) I would not want to profit from the work if I knew people had suffered in the creation of these scenes.

Nadav Kander

I have admired Nadav Kander's work for some time now, but that was only after I got over him winning every award and visiting every place I have ever wanted to photograph. I had to learn early on how important it is to enjoy other photographers work, not be jealous of it.. I think a lot of people do this whether they admit it or not, especially early on when they may not understand how to achieve certain things through lack of experience.. I did print for Nadav a few times in his own darkroom (the nicest darkroom I have ever seen) and was somewhat overwhelmed by the amount of fabulous work he produces. But this could be said of many photographers when you see twelve months worth all at once.
I do not think of Kander as one of the most original photographers (I believe there is huge influence from the likes of Shore, Eggleston, Misrach etc.) But I do think he is one of the most talented and certainly one of Britain's biggest hitters..
I also think his personal work has a very commercial feel which is not surprising as he has been one of the leaders in commercial photography for over a decade.
One more point I thought I might add is that although I am sick to death of images of China, I think Nadav's work on the Yangtze River is brilliant.


Hidy Hido

I found this nice little video of Todd Hido's
here His night time work ethic is very similar to my own except I don't have a vibrating timer and I am much better looking.... What did take me by surprise was that he uses 35mm. Nothing wrong with that of course, I just assumed he used a bigger format (unless it was for the camera)
I guess that explains the long vertical format. Although quite informative in parts he actually doesn't give much away, and I why should he.. I have a few pictures of houses that have been compared to Hido's which is fair enough but I am more interested in the houses location and surrounding area, rather than the actual homes. As for Hido's 'other' work, well it doesn't really do it for me and I personally don't think you can connect a portrait or nude with a photograph of a house (see video)
I did see a talk Hido did in San Francisco which was quite interesting. Someone asked if he approached the house owner for permission before he took a picture of there property. His reply was: "No. Because I mostly shoot late at night, knocking on a strangers door and asking if I could take a picture of there house would probably not go down very well" I totally understood what he meant. Photographers are misunderstood enough without asking to take pictures of peoples houses in the middle of the night.
This has got me thinking of how other photographers 'gain excess' to certain areas in order to take pictures. I myself have a simple rule. If there are No Trespass signs, a fence to climb or just generally a bad vibe to the place I simply walk away, no matter how good things look. I just don't think its worth getting into bother for the sake of a picture. I have also found that asking permission to take a picture always sends up a red flag, so I normally try to find common ground with the property owner first (thats a beautiful house, do the work yourself, my you are handsome), if there is indeed someone to ask, which for me is rare as I tend to go places where there is no one around.. This is one topic that comes up a lot on the photography forums, but I don't want to get into that too much here, its just common sense after all...
Couldn't resist the childish title today...

More of that snow stuff...

The first thing I thought this morning was that I should be out with my camera. But soon realised that this would amount to nothing much, just pictures of snow. All to often in the past I would go out just because there was snow, fog etc. But this rarely makes for long lasting images. As you progress as a photographer you tend to edit your subject matter through time. Today is a good example as I have no pictures of snow scenes in my body of work, so to put one in would just look odd and out of place, even if it was extraordinary.
I guess its the difference between photographers that document an image and freeze a moment in time, and photographers that create an image which can be timeless. I would like to think I am the latter...
Hope I am making sense today, anyway, above is one image by Olaf Otto Becker that took my breath away when I first saw it, and yes its of snow. As for Piglet, well he always wants to go out and make pictures...


How Much...?

I have always found with Photography or indeed Art that the really big hitters, usually those spending vast amounts on the production of there work, always get the most critisim and Gregory Grewson is one very good example. The amount of man power and cost involved is not so much high, it is simply realative to the shoot. Grewdson's images are like film stills, and indeed shot just like a film, therefore there are a lot of costs involved. I get tired of people who slate work like this just because of these very things, usually with quotes like "well, if I had all that money and a team of ninety people helping me, I could do that" Its such nonesense because they simply could not. The major factor behind Grewdsons work is the 'Idea'. Without this the work would be lost no matter how much money, time, and man power you put behind it.

I first experienced Grewdsons work about five years ago and it knocked me out. I never questioned how he did it, costs invloved etc. I just enjoyed the work. And if you can't afford the prints his new book Underneath The Roses is very affordable and highly recommended..

There is a nice article here regarding Gregory Grewdson's epic work.


Thought for the weekend (just like Jerry Springer)

Well I have managed to fill the week full of great British talent and in doing so have realised just how much there is out there.
As the inventors of Photography (again I make no apologise to the French) the British have a very firm standing not only with photographic history, but also with the amount of superb photographers and work it produces.
I certainly don't think this is the easiest country to make a living from photography but that has not stopped the hundreds that do, respect is all I have to give to them..
So now my you wipe the tears from your eyes and start reading my blog.....

Shot Of The Week..

Well Its Friday which can only mean one thing...Shot Of The Week...
I have stopped using 'It Should Be In My House' because I think its a little bit rubbish even though I mean what I say.
I would like to regard Dan Holdsworth as one of my closet Allies. We were at college together for a while and went our separate ways. I became a printer and Dan began the wonderful work he produces now. I think the last time I saw him I traded a Gitzo carbon fibre tripod for his 5/4 roll film back (never used it to this day)
There is a tremendous amount of weight behind Dans images and I have nothing but respect for his work, especially when I know how much time is involved with technique and exposure times. I could of posted any of his Hyperborea images (see above) as I love them all..
I have wanted to mention Dan's work for a while now but was waiting for the right moment.
I should also mention that you couldn't meet a nicer person, warm and open, apart from myself of course....
Next week I am offering sweeties to the shot of the week or indeed anyone who wants to send me some nice work and info on themselves, lie if you have to..


Albert Watson

I went to the Private View Berty had last month at Hamiltons. (Thats right I know everyone) and enjoyed it very much. Not just because of the wine, and not because I had some nice friends there and met some equally nice people. It was because this photographer who had had the biggest influence (and I mean it this time) on everyone I studied with could still pull off a great show of work of the highest quality. His night shots (see above) where right on the money in every respect and I loved these as much as I did his early black and white (which got me excited about black and white printing)
Its good when photographers keep up with the younger lot and don't rely on there early work. He was a master then and is an even greater master now

Three Brit Nicks..

I have decided to cheat a little today and list three British photographers all called Nick, but all relevent for different reasons. The first is Nick Knight A big influence to me and every other college student of the early nineties no doubt. What I loved about his work were the new (new at the time) techniques never seen before and no one knew just how he did it, the colours, the contrast, remember this was long before photo shop.. I should point out that I did discover a lot of his secrets later on from printer to printer, assistants etc but thats all I will say there....

Second is Nick Clements. Although not a fan of fashion photography, I do like his style. I printed for Nick in the early days and he was a pleasure to deal with. Always happy to leave the printing up to the printer....What I found the most fasinating was that he only ever did a single frame per set up. There where no huge edits and countless rolls of film...

Third finally is Nick Meek I simply love the simplicity of his work. Whats great about it is that it blends 'Art Photography' with 'Commercial Photography' exceedingly well which I think is rare these days. Above are a few of Nick Meek's images.