How Should We Evaluate Digital Craftsmanship?

Earlier this week, my wife and I watched Valentino: The Last Emperor (here) on DVD. For those of you that haven't seen this film, it is a terrific documentary covering the last year or so of Valentino's reign as the head of his iconic Italian fashion house, including the now famous 45th anniversary retrospective of his work and the glamorous star-studded gala celebration in Rome.

Near the end of the film, there is an amazing scene, where Valentino and Karl Lagerfeld are wandering through the museum show of Valentino's jaw-dropping designs, and Lagerfeld stops, puts his arm around Valentino, and says something like "Compared to the two of us, the rest are making rags."

As I thought more about this stunning comment, I wondered about how it might connect to the world of photography. In the old analog world, the craftsmanship of the gelatin silver print was clear: great printers were obviously better than average printers, and you didn't have to have a particularly tuned eye to see the difference. If we were to try elect a pantheon of master printers, one of my votes would certainly go to Frederick Sommer, but of course, there are many others who took meticulous printing to new heights. There were also those like Bill Brandt who were consistently sloppy, but didn't seem to care.

In the new digital world, I find myself much more confused about how to evaluate prints. If there are obvious imperfections, pixelations, digital remnants or other unwanted artifacts, we can of course single these prints out as less than good. But how are we to tell the difference between average and superior? Can we still pick winners based on elevation of craft alone?

I really don't have any good answers here I'm afraid. If we assume that once a digital image goes to "the printer" it is exactly the same as every subsequent image printed, the only variations then come in the proper functioning of the machinery, the fidelity of the inks and the quality of the papers. Are most collectors really equipped to dive into these details with any kind of knowledgeable connoisseurship? And if the above is true, do we then step back to evaluate a photographer's skill at computer-based manipulation and editing? Is this still "printing"? I'm not sure that it is.

I think what we need is a jargon free checklist/guide of what to look for in the physical endpoint of digital prints, from the perspective of a collector. Perhaps this exists somewhere on the Internet already, or maybe we need to gather together the information and create it here.

So back to Valentino and Lagerfeld. How will we judge the master printers of this digital age? What metrics will we use? Can anyone put forth the two current best who could have a similar conversation, whose skills and craftsmanship put them undeniably head and shoulders above their peers? Is this even a relevant question? As a collector, I feel an uneasy need to understand this better, but I'll admit that I really don't even know where to begin.

Taken from here.


Thought we should have a picture...
So today I found myself in somewhere in the Cotswold's, and my what a beautiful place, it was not unlike a model village or a train set layout, only slightly bigger.
I happened upon a fella who ran a 'photography studio' or in other words he was 'a high street photographer' . Now before I go any further and you gasp and sigh, I have to say I have a lot of time for the high streeter for the simple reason that no job is too small or crappy for them. Be it a pet portrait, granny at a wedding, a welder, a still life of a fishing rod, or a saucy one of someones niece. These guys provide a service to the public even though some of the work (usually on canvas may be a little bit naff-a-rooney. The fella I met certainly did the lot. He even had a processing and printing service for peoples holiday snaps and semi naked girlfriends of the local keen amateur. He told me of how ten years ago he was a booming business providing his services as far away as Manchester. He had three full time staff, two decent sized studios, a public lab, three darkrooms, and lots of work. Only five years ago he claimed the lab work dried up overnight as everyone seemed to go out and buy a digital camera and a small printer. The Studio was flooded and the road adjacent to the property blocked off for one year in an attempt to sort the 'blocked' drains that caused the local flooding and his business ceased. In that time he had to pay off his staff and look for new ways of making money from his assets.
Now I am sure parts of this hit home with a lot of photographers no matter what line work they are in and its certainly quite sad to see a photographers career grinding to a halt. You can blame what you like, digital, the economy, camera phones, x factor, Rankin, whatever. But my friends the simple truth is, like the climate change, things are always changing and evolving. We can either move with it, or get out the oil paints and start making candles and horse shoes.....

Now wheres my mule..


After eventually drying out from my coastal endeavours the other day I decided to work on my Borders project and so made my way to Kielder Forest, part of which runs along my project route.
After a very pleasant drive though winding country roads of autumnal colour I entered Kielder Park (the biggest man made forest in Northern Europe).
As I have written about the park before, in particular how much it resembles its America counterparts, I will not go into too much detail. But before I ventured into the misty woodland I proceeded to fill my face with a rather naff cod and chips which was so dry I had to lace it with vinegar which in turn gave me the sweats. Belly full of sweaty cod I made my way into the misty forest at around 4 in the PM with my trusty (and a bit rusty) 5/4. At this time of year the forest floor is a wash with a vivid lime green spongy moss which looks rather wonderful and so I made a few exposures and had a bit of a nice time, apart from being feasted on by midges!. After about an hour I developed some slight stomach pains, which I put down to the one eyed cod I had eaten earlier, and so I sat with my back against the straightest pine tree I could find and waited for the cramps to subside (not the first time this has happened). Tired from my last few days outings I happened to dose off only to awake in what seemed to be total darkness. Of course I am always well equipped, and before you know it I was donning a head lamp and waving a glow stick in the air like I was Obi Wan Kanoobee.
Its always baffled me how I can navigate my way across vast continents and live with wild beasts but could not find my way out of a small section of man made forest. The darkness had thrown my bearings off and I just didn't have a clue. Everywhere looked the same with its stupid man made trees in a straight line nonsense. At one point I was about to light a fire and make camp, but everywhere was as damp and soggy as a students flat and if theres one thing I dont like, its being wet (or moist). After what seemed like hours in the jungle I ended up in a Caravan Park and had to bribe two kiddies with glow sticks so I could find my way back to where I had parked the car, but even in the car park I couldn't find the car for a fair old bit. Then there was the fog, thick as Grannies blanket, making the drive home a total nightmare.
Safe to say I wont be going back there in a hurry.

So thats my bit of adventure over for now. I shall leave you to dream about my midge bitten, vinegar sweating, pale baldy heed and soggy pants as I make my way back to the Big Smoke...

What is this..

Here in the North the book shops are poor, but thats not to say I wont grab a coffee in the local Costa located within a Waterstones (and perhaps one of those lemon muffins) and flick through a book which I will not buy and probably cover in coffee froth which I know is quite naughty.
Today I discovered a book by Jill Waterman on Night Photography and naturally became quite curios. Having never been impressed with any books of this nature in the past I thought this one showed promise as it had a foreword by Michael Kenna. Never have wiser words been spoken about night photography than the ones I read from Micky K who puts the main requirement for night work down to PATIENCE which I could not agree more with. Sadly after the foreword the book goes rapidly downhill and is overall quite naff with its poor reproduction and terrible upright format which is really no good when most of the images are landscape.. Ok, there are a few nice shots in there (about three) but the rest was a bit like my stale muffin. Shame really as it would of been nice to have some kind of guide book (not that I need one).
Basically there are two kinds of Night Work Photography. Very Good and Very Bad... Lets face it, if it was any good Michael Kenna would have a few images in it, sadly he has not.



Making the most of my time in the North I decided to venture out despite the coastal weather warnings of torrential rain and high winds. During a map reading session the other day I come across a place in Northumbria with the delightful name of Cockplay and felt somewhat compelled to visit the place if only to do a self portrait under this delightful village name. In the end I thought I should work on some projects instead and opted for good old Berwick Upon Tweed, a delightful town once Scottish, then English, then Scottish, then English, then Scottish, and then finally English (I think).
I always like to stop off at the Cream Puff, a delightful little cafe en route to Berwick, and proceeded to stuff my face with a creamy spongy delight. I was going to have a Cream Horn but thought it might be a little too much with all this cock and puff business..
Rarely am I put off by bad weather and today was no different as I donned my waterproofs, un sheathed my brolley and made my way along the John Muir way. My oh my how the rain fell, but despite this I still managed to squeeze off a couple of sheets of film. By the time I got back to the car I looked like I had just swam the channel (fully clothed which I could probably do). Being well prepared and with a little shuffle on the back seat I slipped into my spare set of clothes I always carry with my kit. I was so wet I had to remove my undies and go commando which wouldn't usually be a problem but my spare pants were a little on the 'once upon a time I ate too many cream horns side,' but as I was driving I had no fear of accidental flashery..
I decided to drive down to Holy Island which you may or may not know has a causeway between the mainland and the 'Island' which is only accessible at certain times in the day. As I approached the causeway the sun broke through the grey behind me and created a wonderful dramatic scene which was right up my street. I quickly parked and leapt out of car forgetting I had on my fat pants! Let me just say it wasn't just the sun that had come out as the elderly couple in a car three feet away almost choked on there custard creams at the site of my fatherhood. To make matters worse I turned away from the spectators only to reveal my hairy moon as I pulled up my pants. But undeterred I quickly fashioned a belt from some cord and made my way to the water, but only after apologising to the elderly couple which I guess could of been worse, they could of been young ladies driven wild by my manliness..
The wind had not ceased all day and the waves where big and very spectacular, this was going to be good. I set up the camera and took a light reading. At that moment, unbeknown to me a huge wave crashed on the wall behind me and covered the Doyle (and the camera) in a hundred gallons of salty sea. This was the final blow to my day and I will leave you to imagine the rest. Lets just say It was a good job I wasn't stopped on the way home..



So today seen the return of the 'Nice Chap With A Big Camera' to the homeland where upon I had a fantastic afternoon at the mighty Cumbria University photography department. The memories came flooding back to my student days when I was but a tubby youth with golden locks of hair and a twinkle in my eye.
Today the twinkle remained as I proceeded to talk to the students about my work. From my humble beginnings as a 35mm wielding spotty child with hair of fluff, to my current standing as a fine art photographer and part time glove model.
A very enjoyable afternoon which has hopefully given the students a new hope and inspiration. Either that or I have filled them with dread and they will all be applying for jobs at Maccy Dees in the morning..

I have to say I was amazed at the get up the university has and it has to be one of the best equipped places I have been in. The best computers, printers, studios, cameras and not forgetting an excellent repatwa of lecturing talent (who are photographers themselves..!). I am thinking the university may become one of the best in the country providing people get over the lets study and have fun in the 'Big City' thing which lets face it, you can always do afterwards...

Now I'm off to reflect on my day and how much waffle I managed to spout...

Cumbria Uni rocks..


Contemporary Art Photographers Mess With the Medium

Anxiety? Fetish? Picture-prone artists are loving themselves some process.

By Martha Schwendener

Tuesday, October 13th 2009 at 11:50am

The question of why certain practices thrive at particular moments feels like the art world equivalent of asking why honeybee populations have collapsed in the last decades or mussels have started growing in the Hudson. Why, for instance, are contemporary photographers—or, if you like, artists working with photography—obsessed with abstraction, materiality, and process?

First, the evidence. A good place to start is "Processed: Considering Recent Photographic Practices" at Hunter College (East 68th Street and Lexington, through December 12). The show includes artists like Marco Breuer, whose spectral abstractions, made by scratching and scuffing chromogenic paper, are hung across from Josh Brand's photograms that look like muted Josef Albers paintings. Markus Amm has folded photosensitive paper to create black-and-white photograms, while Curtis Mitchell drags photo paper through vats of chemicals to create moody, painterly "Meltdowns." The work of Wolfgang Tillmans, Tamar Halpern, and Jennifer West suggests abstract photography as a kind of frenetic punk practice. West's films, four of which are shown here, look like candy-colored Stan Brakhage films—at the same time nodding to Pollock's drips and splatters—and are made by slathering film stock with substances like food coloring or Teen Spirit deodorant.

Over at MOMA (11 West 53rd Street, through January 11), "New Photography 2009" includes Walead Beshty, the best-known younger artist (James Welling being the older one) making abstract photograms. Several of his large, vertical works with rectangular bursts of color are here. Daniel Gordon, Sara VanDerBeek, and Leslie Hewitt take actual photographs—with a camera!—but of sculptural tableaux that play a variety of trompe l'oeil tricks. Meanwhile, Sterling Ruby digitally arranges photographs of Italian graffiti into Basquiat-like compositions, and Carter Mull scans sections of The Los Angeles Times to create hallucinogenic photomontages.

At Rachel Uffner (47 Orchard Street, through October 25), Sara Greenberger Rafferty's appropriated images of comedians like Goldie Hawn and Vicki Lawrence have been put through a process of inkjet printing, saturation, scanning, and reprinting, so that they look like watercolors injected with grotesque specters. Adam Putnam, on view at Taxter & Spengemann (123 East 12th Street, through October 17), plays a game with uncanny space and reflections in his small silver gelatin prints and C-prints, as does Talia Chetrit, whose works at Renwick Gallery (45 Renwick Street, through October 17) were created by light bouncing off velvet or glass. Two other recent shows worth mentioning are Lisa Oppenheim at Harris Lieberman and Andrew Pearson, the greatest heir to Welling's early-'80s photographs of tinfoil, at Marianne Boesky (both closed on October 10).

So why, at this moment, when the world is awash in vernacular images and consumed by geopolitical, eco, and economic crises, are artist-photographers holed up in their studios and darkrooms, interrogating the medium? Why not pick up a camera and document the collapse?

Nostalgia might be one answer—for the end of analog photography, or modernism, when artists like Christian Schad, Man Ray, László Moholy-Nagy, or Alvin Langdon Coburn could claim a revolutionary status for abstract photography. The return to chemical photography in the digital age echoes a similar move by filmmakers in the mid '90s who adopted 16mm, primarily because they liked its physical properties and effects. (DVD projections of West's films, transferred from 16-, 35-, and 70mm film, are on view at Hunter.)

Several theories are offered in Words Without Pictures, the recently published record of a year-long forum on photography sponsored by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. In the essays and discussions, there's a suggestion that, while formalism might be an exhausted term for critics and historians, it could, as Kevin Moore argues, be "an anxious attempt" among artists to make something new and yet familiar in a moment when technology, politics, and culture are rapidly shifting. Others suggest abstraction as a response to the current global crisis—a kind of causal fragmentation/disintegration scenario—while editor Alex Klein warns that, while materiality and abstraction might have political implications for some artists, there are clearly others for whom it's "trendy, market-savvy, and scarcely disguised by a veneer of easily digestible theory."

That, as many bystanders have pointed out, is the rub. Words Without Pictures attests that this is an exceptionally articulate group of artists. And yet their work often feels as market- and institution-friendly as the Gursky-ites in the generation before them, or the Pictures artists, who at least had the figure of John Szarkowski, MOMA's formidable photography curator, to rebel against. What Words Without Pictures demonstrates most, perhaps, is that photography—or art, in general—needs a new discourse that doesn't rely on the straitjacket demands of "criticality." Beshty, in his essay, quotes Luc Boltanski and Ève Chiapello from The New Spirit of Capitalism (2006): "Artistic critique is currently paralysed by what, depending on one's viewpoint, may be regarded as its success or its failure." (Although, irony here: Beshty's work is the most beautiful, tasteful, and marketable of any of these photographers; a photographer friend likened it to "printing money.")

If this kind of talk makes you uncomfortable, there are other photography shows around town that stick with the pre-millennial discourse. There is, of course, the Metropolitan Museum's "Looking In: Robert Frank's The Americans" (1000 Fifth Avenue, through January 3), which commemorates the 50th anniversary of the publication of the Swiss-born photographer's book—most notably, by exhibiting Frank's contact sheets. And Marian Goodman (24 West 57th Street, through October 30) has new photographs by the Canadian master of the uncanny himself, Jeff Wall, who once described his exaggeration of "the artificial" as an attempt to distance himself from Frank's legacy.

Sometimes, however, the boundaries get blurred. In his show at Greenberg Van Doren (730 Fifth Avenue, through October 24), Tim Davis includes a photograph taken with a large-format camera of a scratched up, graffiti-riddled fresco in Italy—reminiscent, interestingly, of Ruby's digitally collaged images of Italian graffiti at MOMA. Both seem to circle around questions of image, inscription, history, and artifact. And yet Davis is an artist who works very much in the peripatetic, social-critique tradition of Frank; he even did a road-trip project that resulted in his own version of The Americans, titled My Life in Politics.

So does it matter how either of these artists made their photographs? Or has process become the new (or revived) fetish of photography, something to occupy us now that the bickering over whether photography is art has died down? Except that another question looms, both on the pages of Words Without Pictures and elsewhere. Actually, it's an old one, but it's carrying new, post-digital baggage: What, in 2009, is a photograph?



A few weekends ago I wrote a little piece on Mitch Epstien as he was mentioned in the Weekend Guardian regarding his American Power book which is just faborooney. For those of you who missed it you can read the piece here.

Why am I bringing this up again? Well a good photographer friend of mine has approached me with the idea of doing a collaboration of sorts. Without giving too much away in these early stages we would basically be making pictures in the same area, but at different times and under our own speed (soon all may be revealed, but rest assured its a great idea). As I am always interested in how other photographers interpret the same places and subject matter this could turn out to be a very interesting project. And no it wont be like my college days when we where all given the same brief and would fight for studio space, the same model or the best viewpoint under Blackpool Tower.
Anyway, back to Mr Epstein..
To show you an example of how such a mentioned project could work, the above image of the Oil Refinery with the flag is by Mitch Epstein. The one below it is by myself and is of the very same refinery but from a very different angle. I am guessing the images where made around the same time as I made this about four years ago. I remember driving past the monstrous earth polluter during one of my road trips and just had to stop at the conviently located diner directly opposite.
My plan was to photograph the refinery at dusk and I have to point out that the very angle Mitch has taken his image from was the very angle I had chose to shoot at. I selected my window seat in the diner which was in full view of the chimney sweeps nightmare. I ordered a short stack of blueberry pancakes and a side of ham with two eggs (otherwise known as a Lumberjack) and waited for the sun to go down.
More often than not I find myself waiting for the right light, but my friends the longer you wait the more chance there is of some twitt who has driven for fifteen hours from Texas will pull up in there fifty foot long motor home in the very spot you planned to make the picture. And he ain't moving... After swallowing a little bit of bluberry and ham sick I decided rather than wait until morning for the house on wheels to move I would just look for another viewpoint. And so my friends there you are. But what might of happened if I had waited until morning you may wonder? Well as a matter of fact I did. The shot is almost identical except for the leaves around the edge of Mitch's version which look like they may of been trimmed. But I wont be posting 'my version' here for fear of being called a plagiarist which is simply not true as I probably did mine first..
Heres to great minds thinking alike...


I was going to post about Pieter Hugo's wild doggy thing and the daft debate it has created. But no need as the Manchester blog has done it all for me..
Thanks Mark, over to you..


We're all blinded, I suppose, somehow. So many things obscure a pure attention to good art. The spectacle of blazing fame and self-delusion, the joy of people talking utter rubbish, and writing rude reviews: the freak show goes on.

Tom Lubbock (The Independent)


Kevin Cooley.

I may have mentioned the work of Kevin Cooley on here before but I cant remember. That's what 451 posts will do to you and if I have mentioned Coolio earlier on I make no apologies because there's some nice stuff in there and some rather nice short films to boot (landings being my favourite).
Fabulous technique and wonderful content, in particular anything with snow. I do find some of the composistion shall we say a little 'cod eyed' and 'taken from the view point of a dwarf' at times, but thats just from someone who puts everything in the middle of the frame so what do I know.
Well worth a look.
The guy obviously works hard.



I often find myself coming across and going back to the work of Steve Fitch, my favourite body of work being Gone. Abandonment on the High Plains (of course). I mentioned Eugene Richards on here a while back and his Blue Room work which covers a similar topic in a similar vain which at first I found just wonderful to behold on the web but not so in print due to poor reproduction (or at least I thought so) and the full bleed images (I thought they needed a bit more space around them). If I was to compare the two, I personally think Fitch would win hands down and not just because his book is of a far better quality and layout. There is a real haunting quality to Fitch's work which Richards just does not have. I also think Richards work is much cleaner, perhaps this is just down to plain old camera work but theres a rawness with Fitch I find most appealing. But this aint no competition, just two wonderful bodies of work...


I have a headache..

As photographers we are all faced with the same problem sooner or later. That problem is storage, be it negatives which for me are by far the most important thing, or of course digital files which raise a whole new series of problems and a headache to go with it. Does one just leave them on a computer, send them into the world wide web, put them on a separate hard drive, burn them onto a disc, or all of the above..
I have seen photographers become obsessed with this whole storage thing probably because they do not fully trust something virtual which can disappear like a fart in the breeze.

Today I took delivery of all my exhibition prints which now reside in a mighty lock up out of harms way (they are much bigger than I remember). Its dry and cool which is perfect for storing prints. It should be remembered that things like heaters should be kept well away from packed prints as it can cause condensation and of course fire. I have taken the up most care to prevent any future problems (leaky pipes etc) and am reminded of all the horror stories I have heard over the years be it a burst water main, earth quake or fire. But lets face it, theres just no way to be 100 percent safe in these matters and there never will be.

As for me, I will enjoy rotating my show pieces in my home (the best way to keep framed work) until they sell (eventually). They certainly wont be cast aside like a pair or Rolla Skates or a Gut Buster..

Now then, wheres my drill...
I found this 'enlightening' written piece somewhere on the web. I do not know who wrote it and do not really care. I have highlighted the best bits for their complete nonsense, but all in all it does some up Contemporary Landscape for what it really is.. But its still all balls...

Contemporary Landscaping Photography is the art of taking landscape photographs whose center of focus is of objects of contemporary life such as waste dumps, abandoned automobiles, graffiti-covered trains and contemporary building structures, either new or decaying.

What is Composition and How Does It Relate to Contemporary Landscape Photography?

Great landscape photographs are dependent on being able to portray a scene, to arrange its elements, and to present it in a way that evokes an emotional response and allows the viewer to experience not only a beautiful scene, but also an awe-inspiring one.

To get such a feeling, it is not enough to have an interesting subject, or to maintain sharp focus, or to calculate the perfect exposure - the photographer must also be able to see a composition within a scene, to visualize it, and be able to convey his or her own inspiration to the viewer. That is the essence of landscape photography - training the eye to recognize elements in a scene that can combine to produce an emotional reaction, and then capturing your own vision in a photograph.

To lend a feeling of interest and excitement to your photographs, the center of interest should not be placed dead-center in your photographs, but off-center. You can use the rule of thirds as a guide in the off-center placement of your subjects. Before you snap the picture, imagine your picture area divided into thirds both horizontally and vertically. The intersections of these imaginary lines suggest four options for placing the center of interest for good composition. The option you select depends upon the subject and how you would like that subject to be presented.

The Importance of Lighting in Your Landscape Photographs.

Pay attention to the lighting as well, it can give your picture just the right touch or ruin the entire shot.
Since reflected light is what the camera uses to create images, lighting is clearly a key element in all kinds of photography. Besides Natural or Artificial sources of light, the photographer should be aware of the direction of light and what effects it can render to a landscape scene. Light is classified into four types: front, back, side and overhead. Each brings their own specific effects to the subject.

What Type of Filters Do You Need When Taking Landscape Photographs?

There is a large number of filters available for use in landscape photography, but the two most used are the UV and the Polaroid. The UV filter is used to remove the haze that is usually present in landscape photos, and the polarizing filter used to reduce or remove reflections both in the sky and in the composition. There are many types of lenses, both for color and black and white photographs, too many to list here, but of which the photographer should be aware.

The Most Important Part of Contemporary Landscape Photography.

Know your abilities, strengths and weaknesses. These three things determine what you are capable of. And practice, practice and practice some more. Rome was not built in a day, but it was built Learn from your mistakes. But have fun. Enjoy the process.


I have this amazing thing called a telephone, you press a button and you can speak to anyone in the world.

iphone to teach photography.

We’ve come a long way since the daguerreotype and collodien plate. 35mm seems a distant and fading memory. We are now witnessing not only the rise of citizen photography, blurring the line between professional and amateur, but also an increase in photographic knowledge and image awareness. (In the words of Lewis Carroll, on the introduction of negatives and subsequent demise of the collodian plate, ‘someone has let the rabble in’).

Manga Blackbox is proud to present the first ever photography tutorial available exclusively on the iPhone.

Professional fashion photographer Diego Indraccolo has put his practical, technical and creative knowledge into the application, making up a how to guide to photography. This is aimed at both beginners and advanced amateur photographers who have a basic understanding of photography but are interested in creating a professional body of work.

The tutorials are designed to guide photographers through a fashion shoot without a huge budget and still get good results. Topics covered include; testing, how to find a team, equipment, lighting and editing.

For more see iphonetutorial


Irving Penn 1917-2009

And so the passing of another photography great today. Its hard to imagine another photographer who influenced so many be it his unique still life, portraits or travel images. Many tried to replicate, but few came close as so often happens. Just think about how many photographers have shot their subjects straight on against a plain background, or in a corner, or photographed objects found in the street, again against a plain background. Think Albert Watson, David Bailey, Richard Averdon, Nick Night, Annie Leibovitz, All of these have being heavily influenced in one way or another by the work of this one man.

R.I.P Mr Penn.


As I was almost left thumb less and fingerless on Sunday after an encounter with a pack of fat Bulldogs (every month there is a Bulldog meet up here in London, a really stupid idea in my opinion, I mean put thirty bulldogs on a small patch of grass and your going to get trouble..) I am finding it hard to type with my dog infected wounds inducing pain each time I press a key. But commitment to a blog is an important discipline even with a diseased hand...

So basically my show at the Wharf comes down on Monday 11th. If you have not made it to this photographic adventure I urge you to make the epic journey and say hello to Stuart who may even make you a cup of tea (champagne if you buy something).

Times are still crap as we all know, but I think its important to push on through. To be honest I am not even sure when I will next have a show and will probably wait until things start to bite again before I even contemplate putting any kind of proposals forward. I have said it before but London really is a baron desert when it comes to flogging photographs. Hopefully this will not be the case this weekend in the Spitalfields area as there is a nice big photo fair as part of photomonth here in London (not a lot of advertising for this I know). Lots to do and see in the next couple of weeks. Lets hope London can get people excited and serious about photography.

The fashion world knows no bounds.
Ralph Lauren your a twitt..

Of course we all know its not just the fashion world, take a look here and you will never trust a photograph ever again.


Found this piece on Mitch Epstein in the Sunday Obsever and although I have mentioned the wonder of Mitch on here a few times, he's certainly worth mentioning again albeit from someone else..

Mitch Epstein has spent five years travelling around the US as an "energy tourist", photographing every kind of power station. In Britain, this might be regarded as somewhat cranky though pretty harmless, but in the mass paranoia of the post-9/11 Bush era, Epstein's journey became the act of an enemy of the state.

He was regularly stopped, searched, followed, run out of town, shouted at and interrogated by state police and the FBI. Simple pictures of electrical power production in the everyday landscape of middle America became an exploration of political and corporate power, a portrait of the American landscape and people defined by an energy-dependent consumer lifestyle. Epstein photographed coal mines, solar arrays, oilfields, half-empty dams, smokestacks, fuel cells, nuclear plants and pipelines, but also many of the things the most energy-profligate nation on earth does with all that power – such as build Las Vegas and golf courses in the desert, send tanks to Iraq, blow the tops off mountains to find coal, make nuclear bombs and electric chairs.

Then, in the middle of his grand project, came Hurricane Katrina. The flattened refineries and mangled oil rigs on what remained of the Louisiana coast became, for Epstein, the great symbol of how US power politics had tried to tame nature but in doing so had utterly failed the people. The power of the state and corporations to destroy and redesign nature had in just a few hours been transformed by nature's infinitely greater power to bite back and demolish anything made by man.

His pictures, he says, show the "beauty and terror of early 21st-century America as it clings to past comforts and gropes for a more sensible future… of America teetering between collapse and transformation."

The guys a marvel.


I miss America....

Mark Isaacs 'LIFT'

This film by Mark Isaacs is wonderful, but as I have not worked out how to put video on the blog of wisdom and happiness you will just have to go to the link and trust me.
Thanks to Mark over on Manchester blog for posting this.


One for the diary..

The very talented Johnathan Olley is having a show at Diemar and Noble starting on the 15th October until the 21st November.
If I am honest (as I always am on here) this is the first show at D&N that I am really into. The work in terms of content and quality is fabulous and certainly deserves your attention.
Looking forward to seeing how Laura and Michael curate this one.

Want to feel small? Then watch this.

Let me think..

With project ideas coming out of both ends and 'unfinished projects' longing to be finished (we call these 'ongoing projects' but it really means there's no money left, the trip was cut short, or the photographer couldn't take any more.. ). I find I am now looking for a calendar slot in which to get everything shot. Inevitably there will be some sort of spanner in the works to hinder my progress, like an unpaid bill, a dog with a limp which just wont go away, or the fact one needs to buy some proper outdoor clothing as all they have are T Shirts and vest tops.
It is true that my budgets are as tight as an ants arse these days but the one thing I will never do is go cheap and cut corners on things like film, processing and prints. Do this and you may as well stay in and worry about the ozone layer or something.. (May I at this point reassure all the labs in London I seem to owe money that I will pay them ASAP or before)
I heard Joel Sternfeld tell a tale once that when he was shooting what is now American Prospects (a masterpiece I might add) he limited himself to only shooting two sheets of 10/8 film per day. His reasoning was simple, he had little money at the time (or so he claimed) and two sheets a day was all he could afford. I often wondered since hearing Joel's words of wisdom why he didn't just spend a week somewhere and then shoot fourteen sheets all at once..

Review: Todd Hido's A Road Divided at Bruce Silverstein

You might never have heard of the Sigur Ros effect. I'm not talking about what that music does to you but rather to something else: When Sigur Ros' first album came out I couldn't get enough of it (I'm exaggerating slightly, but I did listen to it for a while). It was quite different, it was inventive, it was fresh, and it had an appeal not easily found somewhere else. But then they had their second album out, which sounded just like the first. And the third (ditto). I started wondering why I should even bother listening to the new stuff when, in fact, it sounded just like the old one. It was more or less the same music - that I actually liked - over and over again, and I just grew tired of it. So I was a bit disappointed when I walked into the Silverstein Gallery to see Todd Hido's A Road Divided (on view until October 24, 2009), only to get a bit of that Sigur Ros effect.

Mind you, there's absolutely nothing wrong with the show (apart from at least one print seeming to have some major technical flaws - given I had a cold the week I went to see the show, my memory might deceive me, but I'm quite certain other people agreed with me) - it's just that it felt like a deja vu: A lot of very nice images, all a bit moody and depressing, but somehow they didn't connect with me. I was so confused I grabbed the press statement from the front desk, and it talked of these "recent" photographs, "once again" showing "the American landscape".

So here's the thing, if you've never seen this work (or its earlier version) you should really go and have a look. It won't be everybody's cup of tea, since, as I wrote above, it might be a bit too somber or moody for some people. But the photography is very well executed, shot through the window of a car, which you only see as smudges of rain that blurs parts of the landscapes. If you let those images work on you, you might find that you start to appreciate them even if your first impression might be "they're boring". They're not at all boring.

If you have seen the earlier work... I'm not so sure. Maybe you won't experience the Sigur Ros effect. Maybe you will. For me, the experience of seeing this show was similar to seeing the second jpeg show by Thomas Ruff. I thought there should have been a bit more than just another set of basically the same kinds of images.

Update: DLK agree with me about seeing stripes in their review! They also quote from an email from the gallery that claims "Interestingly enough, all banding seen on the images appeared to disappear once the plexi was removed." Given I cannot re-visit the show easily right now, I will refrain from commenting on this.

Thought I would post someone else's view on Toddies work after I gave it a right good rodgering last week.
Theres also an older review of Hido's work here. This is the earlier work I have lots of time for.