Shot of the week..

Very Beautiful,
Very Clean,
Very Digital..?
Very Clever..!

Richard Billingham.

As I have just mentioned how personal some photographers are regarding there work in my last post it seems a very good time to mention Richard Billingham.
What I find so amazing about Billingham's work is his ability to document things so close and so overwhelmingly personal. So often we don't seen the wonderful things all around us because they are all around us (can't see the wood for the trees etc etc). But Billingham does this, dare I say, with ease. His first book, Rays Laugh, is sensational in its personal content. To photograph all your families short comings like this is beyond my comprehension. But my favorite body of work is his Black Country series consisting entirely of landscapes shot around where Billingham grew up. I would urge you to buy this book (which has only recently been published) just for the forward alone as its incredibly touching, in particular the part where he tells of his parents being swindled out of there own home by the local con man.
I particularly like the night shots (of course).

There doesn't appear to be a website for Richard Billingham. But there is plenty to see on the web. Just in case you thought I was slacking.

Thoughts of the week....

Once again (with feeling) I was at the 'Big Print Lab' today and met yet another large format photographer, and once again truly wonderful work and an inspiration. Although I cannot recall the young ladies name I wanted to mention today's event because of a comparison that was made between my work and the ladies.
"These are not landscapes like you do, they are places with meaning."
Never have truer words been spoken. Whenever people ask me why I do what I do which they do (da dee doo) I have to tell them I just don't know. Whether its the desert, a ghost town, or the coast, I just feel drawn to these places and want to take a trophy home in the form of a photograph. Although I do photograph places like childhood haunts and things like that, it is never for any particular reason, just the general feeling I get from the place. I guess an extreme example would be a Jewish person making images in an area of the Holocaust where perhaps a member of thee family suffered. I just don't think that way, although that's not to say work like this is not important as it couldn't be more so.
Although all my work is very personal, there is still a fair amount of attachment, there has to be or I couldn't sell the work in a gallery. Lets face it, who wants a photograph of my 100 year old Grannie on there wall apart from my Mother who as you know happens to be my biggest fan.... I have nothing but admiration for people who are so personal in there photography, it takes guts thats for sure.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
And is usually the one behind the camera.


A bit of direction.....

It seems to me lately that a fair few photography agencies are offering all kinds of 'extra services' these days. Gone have a lot the 'photography only' agents providing, portrait, still life, fashion, cars, and of course the odd landscape. Now you can get illustration, styling, make up artists, art direction, props built, production and so on. But today I came across something which left shredded wheat, milk and bananas all down my hairless chest. An agency offering 'Life Direction', that's right, you could come away with spiritual awareness, more confidence, connect with your natural self, become better in business, beat the bad guys and save the entire planet.
Its one thing offering these services to the public within its own space, but don't for the sake of the orphans include it within a photographic agency.

I must go, I have a nine o'clock Indian head massage with my agent.

Excuse me while I take my medicine...


Just doing my reasearch..

After mentioning Peter Bialobrzeski the other day I thought you might like to read the this interview with him over on another blog. Also covers a few other topics I have mentioned lately...

Take A View (and preferably bin it..)

I just can't tell you how un-excited I am with this years Take A View photography competition.
Being a landscape photographer myself you would think I would jump at the chance to enter a competition with such a high caliber of judgement and a big wod of cash up for crabs....BUT the sad truth is, I would never put my name to such an event which has a category for 'Mobile Phone photography', if in fact you can call it photography. A phone is for communicating with people and if like me you have a crappy plastic lens on the back of your phone, then you fell for the sales gimmick just like I did.
Its not just the phone thing, its everything I hate about competitions in general where any true talents are usually cast aside.
So I want to ask the question? "Why would you enter a photographic competition?"
It doesn't matter what the theme is, 'The Portrait Prize, The Nature Prize, The Landscape Prize, The Fat Baby Prize', there all the same. Thousands of entries with basically lottery odds of winning a bag of sweets, never mind the big prize. And for those of you that think your entry will be fair and anonymous, well I very much doubt it as I have seen my fair share of competition politics in the past. As for thinking a competition will boost your career ten fold, again very doubtful.
What happened to that Liverpool fella from Big Brother who had a DIY show.....

I should clarify that this is not dig at the likes of The City Bank Prize or The Deutsche Borse Photography Prize as they are not the amateur driven plop I have mentioned above and only the best of there field are entered after many years in there profession...Competitions like Take A View (and shove it!) are about a bit of spare cash to keep the hobbyists happy... In my humble opinion of of course.

Feel a bit faint after that... And no, I do not do competitions, never even bought a scratch card...
Now, what where my numbers again...

Paul Reas.

It was not until recently that I discovered Paul Reas has a website, and what a joy it is to behold.
I was introduced to his work when I was at college by a friend of mine who was very much into his work, particularly the images he produced during the 80's which produced a fine photographic documentation of Thatchers Britain (see example above).

The 'Portrait Of An Invisible Man' on Reas' website is a revelation, but you have to read the essay that goes with it for its full potential.

I am always a little envious of photographers of this calibre as I am far from being able to look and think the way a photographer like Reas thinks. In similar respects this is the same for Richard Billingham, these guys just have a raw talent and way of seeing I cannot comprehend.

I will mention Richard Billingham another time as he deserves his own space here on the soon to be famous B-Mode.


Getting Hard...

I have to admit I am finding it harder to write these days, especially without the use of my left index finger due to a Sunday roast beef incident at the weekend. My writing slow down is not due to lack of material, in fact its the opposite in that there is too much. Sadly though its too much of the same... As I have been concentrating mostly on landscapes (these being my main source of interest and inspiration) time and time again I see work of similar themes and technique. This is not the start of a rant, just common fact and something I have seen as early as my college days when people would hide there prints as they came off the processor in fear of plagiarisms a-kim-bo.
But copy cats aside I wanted to draw attention to the work of Lynne Cohen
which is quite simply superb. I re-discovered her book No Mans Land the other day and had forgotten how much I love her work. What is most remarkable is the access gained to Military installations and the like. Cohen makes a point of this in the book interview and claims one of the key elements to her work is the fact that no one knows (or will know) how she does gain access to these fascinating places. I have always thought that access is the key with a lot of the best photography created, especially if access to anyone else is limited. In some cases it may simply be a case of who you know, vast research, or maybe it was just luck. I think an element of mystery within an image and the words "How on Earth did they do that" is something all photographers should aspire to. And if they succeed, then they should join the photography magic circle, or a Masonic lodge as I believe people there are very good at keeping secrets....


Thought Of The Week (Its not 'Just A Print')

I frequented my 'Big Print Lab' again today and was amazed by some of the images I had printed. This may seem a strange thing to say, but its mainly due to the fact I had never seen these particular images printed above 11/14 inches. Its always a delight for me when I see my work large, which lets face it is the whole reason for me shooting big negs in the first place.
I have found the optimum size for my landscapes tends to be 30/40 inches which I have found works excellent in a gallery space because its like looking through a window at the actual scene, well that's my theory anyway..
The thing is with big prints is that because so much time and effort goes into the print itself, and because it is of the optimum size creating the most impact, you tend to get a bit attached and almost don't want to ship it off , a bit like dropping a child off on there first school day of school. This tends to be worse the futher up the edition you go. As for that last number 7 in an edition of 7, well in the words of JK Rowling when she finished Harry Potter; "I simply just wept..."

All my work is for sale and there is a discount to loyal blog readers..


I came across Kevin Cooley's work on another blog I don't recall (I tend to read one then go on the links, its a never ending quest..).
His Night Shift series is just wonderful so I guess these could be classed as shot of the week.
I have often had plane trails in some of my night shots, but never made a thing of it (see left). Its touches like this that make this kind of photography stand out.
Night Photography, or as I tend to call it 'I'm cold hungry and slightly damp' is so popular these days. But in my opinion few do it really well, the majority tending to try and duplicate others..
I took my first night shot when I was twelve years old some 23 years ago (see first post ever on this blog). This is not to say I pioneered the practice, just a reminder that I have been doing this kind of work for a long time. So when I see work of this nature its not just the images I like, I also have a big appreciation to the amount of effort I know they have put in to creating an image onlookers rarely understand.
I do not know where you are from Mr. Cooley, in fact I know nothing about you. But that doesn't matter really does it, I just like the work.



The Darkroom.....

After lunching with my very good friend Max we decided to check out a newly opened gallery near by who's name shall remain a mystery, one because I couldn't pronounce it and two, well you will understand in a moment.
Upon arrival we where greeted by a friendly chap wearing pink shoes and hair who handed us both a wined up torch and pointed to a small metal door.... Upon opening the gateway to another dimension we beheld a corridor of total darkness and gingerly myself six foot one, and Max six foot five, entered the abyss like giant frightened puppies... The idea was to view the entire exhibition with torch light, but a cigarette would of given off more light than a wined up torch. There were photographs which could only be described as something from Silence Of The Lambs, there were photographs of babies with eyes cut out and people covered in bile, it was like a two dimensional horror house curated by Eddie Munster. Then began the laughter, I don't know about Max, but mine was out of fear, and never stopped until we stumbled upon a kiddies slide with a razor blade placed in the center, not funny.. So we quickly made an exit and were offered a beer by the pink hair man, but sadly declined in fear of being captured and added to the display of darkness.
This was the first ever exhibition I have viewed by torchlight and can safely say It would of been better without the torch. To make things worse I found candy floss on my chin and a rubber duck in my bag.


Family Business, Home Truths and Cider.

Long ago when I was care free, debt free, pain free and only slightly hair free I went through a period of working with small record companies producing cover shots and
images for music CD's. It was great work as I did pretty much what I wanted usually with the title of a track or the album name to guide me.
With the introduction of the MP3 player these lovely little jobs became fewer and fewer and although they never really paid well (I never done them for the money) soon these small companies couldn't afford a stamp, so the work stopped.
I often come across old work, usually when going through my secret neg filing system, (so secret only I know how to use it). The 'Family Business' cover was shot and cross processed using transparency film with an intention of making the image look gritty and dirty. Works quite well I think. (Imagine cross processing a 10/8 neg, now that's naff..)
The second image 'Home Truths' was shot in a council estate in North London at a time when I was beginning to dabble in long exposures at a more serious level, although in this case I was working quite quickly counting in 'pants' rather than 'elephants' due to the company of young cider drinkers and girls wearing leather.

Now wheres my IPod....

Bloody Great......

Bloody great were the first words that sprung to mind when I looked at Hans Hansen's work.
Like me he moved to the States from his homeland in Norway (not like me) so I was interested to see his work, heck we've even been to the same places to shoot like the Salton Sea (I am beginning to think who hasn't).
As much as I like the work I realised upon further inspection that theres quite a bit of 'jiggery pokery' going on (in terms of retouching), but before you think I am going into one of my traditional working rant-a-ho's, the reason I found it a little odd is because they just don't need it. In particular the sky in every shot is so dramatic It tends to distract from the subject matter (see above).
I think there is a real danger these days of over working an image which although can be done in traditional printing (Its the difference between a brilliant image and a brilliant print) It is just so much easier with one of them computers. One of the reasons I shoot traditionally is that it gives me boundaries with which to work in. When I print an image (again traditionally) I have three colors to work with Magenta, Cyan and Yellow, a computer has thousands, so when do you know when to stop.. (bit dramatic I know)

I will finish by plagiarising the plagiarised quote on Han's site and also with one I made up.

"Things aren't what they used to be, whats worse is they never where."
John Szarkowski

"Do you remember the good old days, because I don't"
Marcus Doyle


One Elephant, Two Elephant, Three Elephant, and so on

I have mentioned a few times how important I find books on photography in terms of influence and eye pleasures and try to add a few each month to my mountainous collection. Some I buy on impulse, others I go back to a few times before parting with the reddies.. This month I went slightly crazy and almost melted my credit card. I wont list them all as I would come across a total twit, instead I wanted to highlight the work of Peter Bialobrzeski and his 'book Lost In Transistion.'
I love 'Neon Tigers' Bialobrzeski's book prior to this one and especially like his technique which creates lightness within the darkness, if you see what I mean. The exposures look monumental judging by the highlights and is exceptionally well controlled. I love 'Neon' but Lost in Transistion just popped my balloons. If I had to have just one it would be 'Transistion', but I have both so there...

Nice one zeski


What A Gem Again...

I mentioned Jem Southam's work way back in April and remarked what fine quality his work is. So imagine my delights today when at my 'get your big prints done here lab' I was introduced to the man himself, and what a delightfully nice chap he is. Things could easily have gone the other way had I slagged off the big print hanging up being as Jem was right beside me when I commented on what was to be one of his fine images.
Its always inspiring when you meet a photographer who's work you admire, especially when they are as nice as Mr. Southam.
So we talked a little, mostly about technique and the joys of the large negative, then rather than offer to arm wrestle him which I normally do when I meet a fellow photographer, I left the lab and bought one of his books Landscape Stories. (cover shot above) Now thats what you call inspiration...


Shot Of The Week..

As I have been printing up work all week I thought it would be nice to include one of my own shots. Above is an image I made a few years ago in my hometown and is part of my Urban Sport series. I was recovering from back surgery at the time and this was the first photograph I made after spending six months in a flowery room lying on my back. I should point out that in this time I produced what I believe to be some of my best work to date (work that one out Doc.) What I like most about this particular image are the small details like the tennis racket in the window. But its the lighting from the tennis court that makes the shot.

Its always nice to print up an image to a bigger size which is something I only do for exhibiting or if I have sold that particular image (to print up all my work would take months and cost a fortune). Because all my work is shot on large format the work really comes to life in a bigger size and you can pick out lots of details you never knew where there. They are also a joy to print as a larger neg holds more detail, has less contrast, better colour saturation, and never needs too much work. Thats enough of the technical for now, I will just leave you with a reminder to check my website as I have added a few new shots......

Thank Crunchy its Friday...

Thought of the Day/week..

I thought I better mention Polaroid today and the fact that it will no longer be with us. This should not be a time of sadness, but rather a celebration for what Polaroid gave us. Blah, Blah, Blah.
The only thing I ever found Polaroids good for where checking my composistion and even then I either missed the light with all my faffing about, or got stressed out because I had no where to put the peely off bit.. So I never really used it and was better off without it. I do feel for those commercial photographers shooting 5/4 and needing a proof for a client, but hey, at least you won't spend the entire shoot trying to get it like the Polaroid. As for those who used it as an art form, well I never really went for that either and can't believe how many books on making image transfers there are....

So as we come to the end of the chemical instant era (yes, I am aware of Fuji instant, but its only a matter of time) why not look back on all your old Polaroids taken by Grannie at Christmas, that is providing there not too faded and blurred.....And then burn them......Only kidding, just put them in the bin...



As I was printing away today a cycle courier arrived with a bag of un-processed film.
"Marcus" he cried, "you have survived the digital revolution...." Maybe I had but it was not without the scars of the mega bite...
I knew this guy years ago when I had my own lab and would call him 'Back Hand Bob' for reasons I hope are obvious. He delivered many a package for me safely in the past and was the fastest courier in the East. He did however turn up one day with a box of negatives with a nice set of tire marks running down the middle. But of course that wouldn't happen these days in the DIGITAL REVOLUTION......

Go get um Bob....


Lights Out..

It may be sunny and hot outside, but this week I have entered the land of darkness, in other words I am printing up work, hence the part time blog. I was whaffling way too much anyway. Lets face it, even my own wife has removed b mode from her bookmarks.. Not enough puppies apparently..
But before I embark on my new Puppy Portrait venture its worth mentioning what I consider the most important part of 'Art Photography,' 'The Print.'
I have been told often that the image itself is more important than the final print, with quotes like; "Its a photography competition, not a print competition." But a moderate, has a bit of a wonky border, looks a little flat, colour is a bit off, slightly out of focus on the edges, top corner could of done with being burnt in a bit kind of print will never show an images full potential. For a large majority of photographers they either can't print, hate printing or just don't find it practical. (too busy etc..). Thankfully though, London has in my opinion the best photographic printers anywhere. However, if I have to use some other talent I always supply the 'Master Print' for reference..

Now wheres my dodger...

You wouldn't put a Picasso in a clip frame would you...


Oh Mann

I have always admired the work of Sally Mann. Both her early work, mostly of her children, and her later landscape images have often been inspiring.. Thanks to the joys of Youtube there is a nice little clip of her right here struggling with a camera the size of a rubble skip. What made me chuckle (you may too if you watch) is when after placing one hand over the lens and using her head to stop the camera from moving while she pulls the dark slide, she says; "There must be an easier way than this.." To which I replied (in my mind) "Yes, get yourself a lens cap". Just watch and you will see what I mean...
The reason I find clips like these so inspiring is because it just goes to show that its all about the way you see things, and not how technically efficient you are with a camera. As long as you can capture what you see then who cares what exposure time and aperture you used. Nothing worse than a photograph with the caption f22 @ 125th of a second....Yawn.....
There is also an excellent interview on the Charlie Rose show which can be found along with the Youtube link.


Something For The Weekend.

I mentioned Olaf Otto Becker a while back regarding his Broken Line series of the Greenland coastline and recently found this on You Tube.
Truly inspirational, and what an accent..
Here You Go.

Image of the week (well sort of)

I try to spend one Friday a month just hopping from bookshop to bookshop looking for a little insiration and more often than not a fruity purchase. Like many photographers I have a stupid number of photography books which although are always nice to have, give no incentive to move house due to there combined weight and taking up whole room-ness. On today's book quest I came across 'Adventures In Tornado Alley' by Mike Hollingshead and although strictly speaking not a photography book its still flipping great. His website has a ton of information and may make you want to become a Storm Chaser, or maybe even a Storm Trooper.
I have always marveled at images of extreme nature, especially storms like the ones shown above.
As much as I dream of photographing such things, I don't think trying to use a 10/8 in these conditions would be ideal. But In photo speak they are photographs of storms and nothing more. But my, what photographs and I want more.....

"What did he just say?"

"He said theres a storm coming"

"I know"

End quote from the Terminator.


Who would like to be my assistant...

In between meets, greets and froffy coffee I managed to pop into the AOP today to view the Assistant Awards. I have always preferred these awards to the main ones which I mentioned here a while back. Maybe this is something to do with the fact that these images are always less commercial in nature and, If I may be so bold, very often more original (how dare you, I hear you cry)....Here are a few of my favorites.
As with students (see yesterdays post) I often think assistants get a bit of a raw deal at times, however, lately I have noticed a new breed of assistant. These new assistants ask questions like:
Whats the job? Who's it for? Who is it? (Who is it...!) and how much? (fair enough) And if they don't like the sound of it, they simply turn it down as if it was coffee flavoured ice cream. All well and good if there making a living, but in my assisting days you had to fight for these jobs and were glad any kind of assisting work. I understand photographers picking and choosing jobs, well actors do it why not photographers, but assistants, Give me a break and make me a cuppa (please get the joke).
If asked I will always tell young hopefuls that they are probably better off assisting a good photographer than going to college. They will certainly learn more technically and equally important will learn more about the business. And before you say how very dare you. If I had the choice again I would not of gone to college at all, but I may of read a few books...Oh, its like the film sliding doors...

I am shooting a male and female underwear catalog next week but unfortunately have enough assistants who I will be paying fifteen hundred pounds a day along with cream cakes and a back rub.


Party Time..

Well its 'End Of Year Show Time' again and all the hopefuls and new talents will be collecting there discounted or 'under fixed' prints for the show only to have them ruined when they try to dry mount them with a domestic clothes iron. At least that's what happened when I was a student.
I doubt things have changed much since I wore vintage charity shop clothes and lived of cheap beer and quick cook pasta.
I had my end of year college show at the Curson Gallery on Windmill Street in London. A great little gallery although they no longer exhibit photography which is a shame.
We where each allowed to show two photographs, myself opting for a 'fashion portrait (give me strength) and a nude , which even back then was rather nice. That's all I really remember apart from that Mexican band that always seem to turn up at openings near the West End playing La Bamba and wearing Sombrero hats.
I really do feel that students are given a bit of a bad rap these days, in fact I think its always been the case, but like anyone about to embark on some kind of photographic career, I wish them all the very best.
I should point out that I will not be going to any of the shows as there is always that danger of drinking too much and reverting back to my student youth, unable to remember where I live...


A few tasty bites...

Heres a few of my latest images (as promised). These and more will appear on my site in the next few weeks. I thought I would include the 'Spaceship' image in keeping with the alien landscape of Lanzarote, island of volcanoes and camel riding tourists.
I particularly enjoying making images in places you would never expect, and holiday resorts are one of my favorites. Apart from sunshine, booze, nice food, fridge magnets and fun activities there are always images to be found, especially ones of a quirky nature.
So next time your clubbing in Ibiza, or on the rampage in Malaga, take a moment and look around, I'll be the weirdo with the big camera and a floppy hat.


Thats nice, wheres the rest....

When I was at college long ago the final year was all about the 'Portfolio.' Back then it was simple: Landscape or Portrait, Leather or Plastic, but most important of all it was , 'How many prints should be in the final book?' Too many and people may get board, too few, and people wouldn't take you seriously, so on and so forth.
But today with the 'Digital Revolution' combined with the ever popular 'PROJECT' we are faced with websites sometimes containing hundreds of images. Theres project 1,2,3,4 and 5, commissioned work, personal work, recent work, archives, short films, bios, blogs, poems, favorite foods and maybe a self portrait with there pet. Try putting all that in a portfolio case.
It should be pointed out that my own print folio has 96 images which is basically four projects. But my gallery portfolio only has 12. I should also apologise to my agent who has to lugg my folio all over the place.
The problem these days is that people expect to see so much more. You show twenty images, they want to see another twenty. I have found this particularly true of galleries and after spending a whole week printing and getting the series just right the last thing you want to hear is "These are nice, wheres the rest?" So much for 'Less Is More'.

A real issue I have with web images is the quality factor. Where as I think its fine to give someone a taster, they will never see the best of the image unless they look at a print. Lets face it a 10/8 contact print will always pull the pants off a 72 dpi 10/8 image on a computer screen and no one likes to wait thirty seconds for a high res an image to load (which they will then print out and put on there bathroom wall..)
So my friends, In an age where everything has to be now, let us remember not to sacrifice time for quality.
I'm off to see if I can fit four more images into my mighty portfolio. Stand aside yellow pages, or should I say, Yell.com...

"All Good Things To Those Who Wait"
Hanibal Lector. Silence Of The Lambs.

Fancy a Danish

Lately I have been finding so much excellent work online its making me feel a bit funny (a bit like climbing a rope in gym class) and I have been feeling a little overwhelmed, photographically. This of course doesn't stop the fact that there are millions of images out there that should be used as toilet paper but as they are all digital/virtual this might be quite difficult.
As I have mentioned previously I do love a lot of 'American' photography and have explained the many reasons why, but lately it would seem that a lot of Danish photographers are starting to fill the cowboy boots regarding fine photography...
Adam Jeppesen has a beautiful body of work and a nice number of images which is refreshing to see in a time when websites tend to have hundreds of images (more on that subject later)..

Neil Folberg

Neil Folberg's desert images quite magical, my favorite body of work being his Israel series. (Can you tell I am really into desert images at the moment.)
There is a lot of this style of work around at the moment but this guy has being at it a long time and has certainly set the standard.
American by birth I believe he now lives in Jerusalem and studied photography in the same realm as Ansel Adams (whatever that means). You may of heard of Adams, he used to do really nice black and white landscapes, particularly around Yoshmite in the U.S.