I forgot where I seen this image, and who made it, but I love it...!


Some great work here, in particular Anna Lehmann Brauns (above) with her fine array of spooky interiors.


After a long weekend of barbecues and sun burn and my giant apple like head attracting all the midges in the UK. I thought it time to reflect on what might have been.
When climbing through the ranks of photography over the years I would often come across the most amazing and spellbinding images. When I was at college about fifty years ago I was overwhelmed by the amount of fine imagery my college buddies were producing all of whom tended to be older than me with more life experience and maybe the odd grey hair. A lot of the students often complained that there was no worthy subject matter in Blackpool, when in fact there was oodles. But these people where never destined to succeed with that kind of attitude, of this I was certain. It was the people that used Blackpool in there subject matter and chose to look within their surroundings that came away with the most glorious images, be it documentary, landscape, or even still life. The sad thing is that these people are not the ones I hear about today. Somewhere along the way they either became lost, disheartened or simply wanted to make a decent living.
Everyday I ask myself the same question? Am I doing the right thing? Should I be pursuing my ambitions and passion? Is my love for photography enough to keep me going? Should I buy film or go to Tesco? My answer is always the same, No. But hey, I am not one of the sensible ones..


Sometimes I put my life in danger when I am looking for a good shot..

A wise man once said, I think it was Atilla the Hun, "It is not enough that I succeed, everyone else must fail."
superman 3


World Press Photo 09 by Paul Lowe
08 May 2009
The World Press Photo Awards days held in Amsterdam recently had something of an 'after the party has ended' feel to them, when you look around at all the wreckage and wonder how you are going to clean up all the mess, but know with some effort and imagination you can maybe get it all back into shape before your parents return...

This wasn’t just because it took place this year just after Queen’s Day, the mad party that transforms the normally clean and tidy Dutch streets into quagmires of crushed beer cans, squashed orange cowboys hats and garlands of orange balloons floating away forlornly in the morning breeze. This year too it had an extra, disturbing quality when the usually joyful celebrations turned to horror when a car careered through the crowd, killing and maiming on its way, transforming a party into a wake in seconds, bringing the world of World Press to the streets of Holland. There was a lot of talk of how to survive the recession, of how to find new ‘business models’, and of how to explore new ways of connecting with the audience, but still a sense that there is still to much mess to be cleared up before we can really set the room straight again and get on with planning the next party.

The awards have now really established them as a vital date in the photojournalistic calendar, with the unique opportunity to see 30 or so photographers present their work to an audience in the packed Felix Meritis; some excellent, some good, some not so good, but as always plenty of gems in there. For me one of the highlights was to realise the depth and breadth of the 8-year odyssey Antony Suau has engaged on after returning to the USA after his mammoth project on the transformations in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. This new work provides a fitting counterpart to his documentation of the decline of one of the cold war superpowers, as he has engaged with the issues that threaten to trigger the decline of the other; the divisions over the Iraq war, the far right, and of course now, his prize winning series on the economic crisis.

For once, it was satisfying to see an overall prize winning picture emerging as just the tip of the iceberg of a far larger project, and giving that project a new prominence that it richly derived. Emotional, ironic, witty and challenging, Suau’s work from America had the feel of a sustained critique of a fallen empire, the devastation the Bush legacy has left at home as much as aboard.

Stephen Mayes gave a valedictory speech as his retirement gift to WPP, beautifully presented and illustrated with over 200 of his own intimate behind the scenes images of the judging process over the last few years. With a wry smile, he offered 3 golden rules on how to win an award at WPP:

Rule 1 Is to enter! Don’t try to anticipate the jury and how they will think, just put in your best pictures.

Rule 2 Bad pictures don’t win. The discussions about winning pictures are always between good pictures

Rule 3 Get published the jury will pull out unrecognised unknown pictures but being a little familiar does sensitise the jury

But of course, he did note that statistically your best chance of winning is if you are American, male and shoot in black and white.


The Sherbert Pervert....

Last day of the New York Photo Festival today. Must of slipped my mind...If only Concord was still in operation....

When I was a skinny little twit with freckles and fuzzy hair we had an ice cream van that came a hooting everyday at 4.00pm. The operator was a fella called Warwick, he had a Scottish accent but was apparently Italian and wore black leather cowboy boots. His glasses were like the bottom of jam jars and sometimes he donned a small thin mustache not unlike Zorro.. Often on a Friday he would get us all to gather round his serving hatch with our 99's and tell us he was jetting off to New York on Concord to show off some of his photographs. Often when I was buying cigarettes for my father (cigarettes sold to an eight year old from an ice cream van, priceless) I had heard Warwick say he often took photographs and apparently had quite the collection. What a glamorous lifestyle I thought. Jetting off to NY on Concord at the speed of sound with some nice photos to show off....
"Don't worry kids, I'll be back on Monday....."
Those where the last words I heard Warwick the Italian ice cream man/photographer as he waved goodbye to the sound of Greensleeves.
It was not because Concord crashed that I never seen Warwick again, oh no, It was because the guy was a complete and utter pervert and had been selling indecent photographs of kids, the New York trips being a big part of the business. But thankfully the cops had been onto him for a while and finally relived him of his Cowboy Boots at Heathrow airport.
'The Sherbert Pervert' heading in The Sun newspaper the next day is something I will always remember and it wasn't long before my concerned father came to me with many questions; (he never sent me for his cigarettes after that I can tell you!)
'Did he touch you son?'
'Did he try to take your picture?'
No, I replied, but he did tell me New York was the best place to show photographs.. Not bad advice, even if it was from a complete pervert.

Kevin Griffin.

Kevin Griffin's Omey Island project is brilliant...
See it here.


Here you go..

Well I was a bit fed up with all these rejections from possible book publishers (keep in mind I have a published book already). Nine in total to be exact (five of those in one day). Perhaps if I had done a book of nudes with flowers or walks in the lake district with a poem section I might have gotten somewhere... Well stuff that. I AM AN ARTIST... So I went to blurb and done the bastard book myself.
Here you go.
More on this later....


I can smell popcorn..

One of the interests my small wife and I share (apart from our hatred of 'have a go photographers') is our love of cinema. Like young teenagers we frequent the big screen most weekends and stuff our bellies with chocolate Brazil nuts and other such sugar filled junk.
I have fond childhood memories of the cinema when it seemed to be a real treat and a magical experience. Those were the days when most cinemas were 'theaters' and not the bright gory plop they tend to be today.. Anyway, enough waffle heres a few from an ongoing series I have been working on for some time.


Hot Bot Shot..

As a regular avid reader of Manchester Photography I was directed to the Hey Hot Shot competition (now closed). I agree with everything Mark says on his blog (Sunday's entry) and have to admit to not paying much attention to the Hot Bot comp when it was launched. I don't care much for competitions as a whole as those of you that follow closely will know all too well, but I do enjoy going through the images often judging them for myself (much more fun).
In this particular batch of imagery there was one body of work that stood out.

The work of Richard Gilles and his 'The Sign Of The Times' (images above) could of been perfect. The content, the locations, the format. But simply put, BILLBOARDS ARE STRAIGHT. What is the deal with that crazy distortion. I am no technical wizard (genius maybe), and can deal with the odd angle somewhere but I find it hard to believe that this guy when out to purposefully bend those billboards. I have a few theories; Either they where all shot at once, the distortion not obvious through the viewer. They have been taken on a 'sweeping lens' camera like a Widelux, again the distortion not obvious. Or they where intentionally shot like that because there was no access to higher ground, or there was no room to step back with the wide angle..Could of been great....
Anyway check out all the hot shot entries, especially the work of James Griffioen and see how things should be shot..



So last night was the grand opening of Diemar Noble Photography and it looks like things are off to a splendid start. Packed and hot as it was, the crowd soon made way when Michael and Laura gave a short word (although Michael did go into lecture mode at one point and had to be stopped with an emergency toast).

If I am honest, I don't think their opening show was the best choice for a gallery launch as I would of opted for a group show. But they have shown there commitment to the contemporary market which can only be a good thing...

I cannot stress enough how good this is for the London Photography scene. Its been a long time coming and I wish them all the very best. More details here.

I have every faith in them that they will make me rich...



I do believe I made photographic history today by obtaining the last box of Fuji Matt 20/24" C Type paper in the UK. Maybe you will remember the scene from Willy Wonka when they are auctioning off the last case of Wonker Bars, well it was nothing like that, but I did find it quite shocking to hear that Fuji are no longer making any other paper size other than big rolls for humongous prints which also double up as a circus tent supports once the paper has finished.
Another fine move by the big twits at Fuji who only go by what the crappy amateurs want for their soft focus, starbursted, foggalized pictures of daffodils, or perhaps a ginger kitten..
What I really don't get is that Fuji have just realised a film camera this month and before you say well I will just get the film scanned, what about my contacts sheets on 10/12" paper. !
To be honest I don't know why I am bothering because I hate Fuji paper and film for that matter and only got the box today because they had no Kodak. No doubt they will follow suit especially after the losses they made last year which where somewhere in the region of eighty zillion dollars...

Some of us aren't ready to sell a kidney for the price of a Digital camera..


Levi's not pants...

I came across the work of Levi Wedel just after my little rant and had a nice time looking at his Invisible City series. In contrast to my last post I like the cleanness of these images because it is fitting to the subject matter. They are not decaying, peely paint infested, crumbling grandeur. They are clinical, overly lit and gastly in content. This is by far my favorite section and in my opinion the one less influenced from other photographers unlike the Record of Absence and Space, Time and Change which eco Friedlander and Eggleston.
As for Levi's night work These City Lights, well I find these a too cluttered for my liking and always found the challenge of night photography all to do with a less is more approach. But thats just me..

Rather proud of the title on this one.

Eric Holubow

The work of Eric Holubow takes you into some fabulous locations. Prisons, abandoned hospitals, power plants and the like. Wonderful locations, wonderful subject matter, superb composition, in fact the images are perfect. But my followers few, thats the problem I have with pretty much all of these images. Theres so much retouching going on here that it has sapped any mood and atmosphere that was once there. Take the image here for example. That old knackered chair looks like its been scrubbed with soap and water and then blow dried, the surrounding desaturated backdrop becoming flat and lifeless.
I tire of this kind of technique heavily in use these days. This kind of image is not selling a product, so just let it go I say.
I also tire of people telling me they use large format and then kill it by making it overly digital. The whole point in using a big fat slow bulky camera is because the pay off is in the quality of the neg.. (I get the impression a lot of the time that people say things like this to get a bit of artistic credit).
I really do think Eric Holubow's images are quite marvelous which may seem a bit of a contradiction but I am pretty sure the 'originals' would of blown me away, whereas these just blow the curtains..



Following on from my last post I realised I have mentioned little about my last en devour to the Borders, but truth be told, it really was quite straight forward. There were no bear fights or camping disasters. No dramatic weather or being trapped on small islands. No run in's with the law or propositions by prostitutes. There was of course the tale of terror in the old shower room of the deserted bunker, but now looking back on the contact sheets I fear I may be a bit of a wimp and the green cow patt stains on my shirt are now but a memory.. ( see post, You wont catch me in there without a camera).
All in all though the trip was a success and I have the beginnings of a great project. My choice of camera did however set the bar a little higher as the 6/17 format is a tricky one to conquer as I didn't want the typical approach most have with this camera which is usually to shoot things straight on, horizon slap in the middle of the frame with a little house in the middle.. What I did find was that working with such a camera did not make me think differently about what I wanted to shoot and I did not go out looking for things 'that would look good in the 6/17 format'. Working on such a format enables you to get closer because its so wide that you get more in around you without having to step back, also, because you make the crop in the camera it never looks cropped on the print.. (hope that makes sense)..
But enough of this whaffle, just watch this space for those long slim images..



With so many British photographers taking influence from our American contemporaries (myself included) I thought I would draw a bit more attention to the fact right here...

Be it Dicky Misrach, Joel Sternfeld, Eddie Burtynsky (yes I know he's Canadian), Alec Soth etc. It is very clear that these photographers have influenced so many photographers working out of the UK today.

I came across Liz Lock and Mishka Henna's website today and its just superb. Based in the North of England they have produced a fantastic body of work. The reason I have drawn upon this particular series is that it seems to merge the content of things very British with the photographic technique similar to one of the above mentioned American photographers. In particular Joel Sternfeld or Alec Soth (think Strangers Passing or Along The Misississippi).

I often wonder if these American Photographers could handle a project right here in Britain and my answer is always the same...No Chance.... Crap light (most of the time), difficult to get around, expensive film, people think your a pervert, restricted access etc.. I have nothing but the deepest respect for the British photographer as here you have to really search for things and perhaps work that little bit harder. The beautiful light and abundance of project fodder are not presented to you here as they tend to be in the great US of A. If you compare the amount of film I shot on my last gig (North Shores) it was around fifty sheets of film, keeping in mind I only really shoot one sheet per image, sometimes two. The Salton Sea project was more like three hundred sheets and both projects where done over a similar time span..

So then, the British photographer may have to work that little bit harder shooting in the UK, but saying this now begs the question, What about the Germans......?