I love Blake Andrews blog 'B' and find his writings and ramblings intelligent and entertaining.
I recently came across something he had written for another blog La Pura Vida (another excellent blog) and just had to post it here.

OpEd: 10 Oeuvres Aspiring Photographers Should Ignore

The other day while reading the internet I came across “The 10 Most Harmful Novels for Aspiring Writers.” I wondered whether there could be a list for photographers as well. I thought about it and then sent my list to Blake Andrews to see if he wanted to contribute and have some fun with it.

Here are Blake’s five.

Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams created some remarkable images and he wrote the book (literally) on photographic technique. Yet on the whole he’s probably done more harm than good for photography. How many young photographers have fussed over which zone to put the shadows in while the light fades and the photo disappears? More importantly, how many perfectly exposed black and white vistas of snowcapped peaks or rivers snaking into the background do we need to see? Yes, nature is majestic. We get it. Saint Ansel showed us, and he did it better than you ever will, so move on already or we’ll score your performance as a negative.

Henri Cartier Bresson

Cartier Bresson was a genius but also a Pied Piper. He probably did more to narrow the path of street photography than anyone else. Before HCB, street photography was relatively undefined and wide open. Then HCB came along and showed how it was done. You lurk the streets for hours, breathlessly hunting. Finally you alight on the perfect composition but… It’s missing that crucial element. What is it? You can’t decide. The stage is set. You wait until the the right person comes along. How long? Hours? Days? You wait as long as it takes…Then Snap! Just like that the moment is decided, and unfortunately so are the next 70 years of street photography. Young photographers ever since have tortured themselves waiting forever on picturesque corners for that elusive Decisive Moment, the picture fully formed except for a perfectly postured pedestrian, or maybe just a finger pointing suggestively. Thanks, Henri, but I haven’t got all day. Can I have my life back now?

Robert Frank

Robert Frank was a one-man revolution. Before him pictures for the most part were pretty and clean and pre-visualized, and shot from a tripod. Frank came along and tore a new A-hole in that aesthetic. Fortunately he had something to replace it with: a strong personal vision. Most young photographers who follow in his footsteps don’t. They mistake grain, guts, and verve with substance. Sorry folks, but hitting three out of four doesn’t count. I know it took cajones to shoot that cowboy bar at 1 am pushing your film to 3200, but that doesn’t keep your photo from being boring. Time to shoot something you care about, and don’t try to convince me it’s flags or the underclass.

Stephen Shore

Stephen Shore was the ultimate Nothing photographer. To the untrained eye, or even to the trained one, his photographs seem artless. What’s the subject? Why this scene and not some other? Is this some sort of trick? A test? There’s nothing there. It’s only after repeated viewings that the framing, precision, and subject matter of Shore’s work begin to seem profound. Unfortunately, that’s too late for many young photographers. They’re already off shooting Nothing, hoping to follow Shore’s footsteps. Why, it’s easy. You find a gas station or a parking lot or a wall or something, maybe an antique car. The colors must go together since you found them like that, right? Line them up and…Sorry to disappoint you but you just exposed a big fat 8 x 10 of Nothing.

Nan Goldin

Hey youngsters, just because Nan Goldin is surrounded by glamorous friends leading tragic photogenic lives doesn’t mean your own story is halfway near as interesting. Goldin was in the right place at the right time and was an intuitive genius with the camera. Even when she was in the wrong place at the wrong time she was a genius. Chances are you’re in the wrong place, wrong time, and you’re not a genius, and no amount of postproduction is gonna make your self-inflicted black eye in that snapshot seem like an accident. Get a life and stop your culture slumming, and don’t look now but your MFA is showing.

Here are Bryan’s five.

William Eggleston

William Eggleston is a pioneer of color photography, and a legend. For the last forty years he’s been “at war with the obvious,” working in a “democratic forest” where everything visible is equally viable as subject matter. Trees, dirt, signs, houses, carpet, red ceilings, naked men, old men with guns, tricycles, etc. Working in this manner, he inspired many photographers to look no further than their immediate surroundings for inspiration. Then came digital cameras, and then the internet, and then Flickr. Eggleston may have won the war with the obvious, but now the obvious is getting its revenge in the form of the millions of banal, boring, dull photographs that are being uploaded to the web everyday. We don’t need to go far to find the ‘democratic forest,’ in fact, we may never be able to escape it.

Ryan McGinley

Ryan McGinley burst onto the scene with his photographs of carefree naked young people frolicking in wide open spaces. Arriving in the post 9/11 world, these photographs showed us that the young were resilient, still seeking, still loving, still experimenting. And damn, were they skinny and white, really skinny and white. It made me as a photographer want to rent a van, find some skinny pretty friends and just hit the road and live man, just live. Apparently though, this thought went through just about every young, hip photographer’s mind between the ages of 18-25. The open road impulse, along with a resurgence of the lo-fi film aesthetic has spawned endless blogs, Tumblrs and Flickr streams dedicated to documenting the carefree existence of pretty naked young people who are too busy dreaming to care how boring they look.

Garry Winogrand

When you think about Garry Winogrand, almost immediately, you think about street photography. He was the photographer flaneur of the New York street’s in the ’50s and ’60s, who also took his Leica tilt show on the road in the search of the elusive photograph he’d never seen in his viewfinder before. He was obsessive and devoted, wild and loose with his compositions. ’What tilt?’ he would say in jest. What tilt? No, no, no! Don’t you understand young street photographer that it took him years and years and years to achieve the skill and precision necessary to compose on the fly. What tilt is not a legitimate rationalization for your own sloppy, poorly composed street photographs. You only have one choice in this, you must make it your goal to die with more than 2,500 rolls of undeveloped film.

Alec Soth

Lyrical landscapes, deadpan portraits, ironic interiors, melancholia, beard, 8x10s, epic projects. Thanks Soth, you’ve raised the bar so high I’m afraid all the bearded MFA kids are going to be old and gray before they ever finish their great American photography project. And really, do you have to be so bloody sardonic about contemporary photography? Photographers don’t need any help becoming grumpy and skeptical about photography. How about this, rent a van, buy a Leica M9, invite some 60-something hippies on a road trip to Puerto Vallarta, and document the whole thing on Tumblr. Wait, that’s pretty depressing too. You win Soth.

Diane Arbus

Actually, don’t ignore her work. Absorb it, absorb it all, marvel in her genius and grace. However, when the word ‘freaks’ enters your consciousness put the book down immediately. The characeristics that drew Arbus to her subjects aren’t going to be the same for you. Her famous quote, “I really believe there are things nobody would see if I didn’t photograph them,” applied to a much different time period. Today with cable TV and the internet, we’re to see just about every type of human, in every form imaginable. What draws photographers to certain people is a mystery. Embrace it, and follow your intuition.


Spend a fiver, have a laugh..

Oh give me a break.

Please tell me what makes you so sure.

Have seen the above edition and William Eggleston's in there, yeah he's a Bad Boy.

The Family and the Land

Sally Mann

18 June - 19 September 2010

The work of American photographer Sally Mann is deeply rooted in both her family, and the landscape she lives and works in. This exhibition, her first solo-show in the UK, draws on several powerful photographic series from throughout her long career that reflect these influences.

Sally Mann (b.1951, USA) first came to prominence for Immediate Family (1984 – 94), a series of intimate and revealing portraits of her three young children Emmett, Jessie and Virginia. Taken over ten years, Mann depicts them playing and acting to camera in and around their homestead in Virginia. Capturing their childhood in all its rawness and innocence, both this and the later series Faces were born out of a collaborative process between mother and child.

Changing focus to the landscape close to her home, the series Deep South (1996 – 98) draws on significant locations from the American Civil War. The photographs are ghostly lit and covered with delicate marks and drip trails – a result of using antique cameras and processes which Mann relishes – that imbue them with a sense of time suspended.

The most recent series in the exhibition, What Remains (2000-04), brings together both of the earlier strands. Facing us are beautifully realised portraits of decomposing bodies returning to the land, photographs taken at a research facility in Tennesse. Dealing directly with the social taboo of death, Mann treats this subject with sensitivity, encouraging us to reflect on our own mortality and place within nature’s order.

The Family and the Land: Sally Mann at The Photographers’ Gallery is an edited version of a touring exhibition, conceived by Sally Mann in collaboration with Hasse Persson, Director, Borås Museum of Modern Art, Sweden.

The above was taken from the Photographers Gallery.

I have never liked The Photographers Gallery, especially not now in there silly new building. But it has to be said that I regard this particular show to be the best thing I have seen there. I am not sure if this says a lot about the PG as this is a touring show and so not curated by them. However, the rooms are dark and the show well laid out, so there's hope yet..
I am a big fan of Mann's early work Immediate Family and to see the prints in the flesh again is a treat as they are exquisite. I also love the Deep South work and her reasoning for using that yucky wet plate negative technique which really adds a rich feel to the images. As for the What Remains and Faces. Not so keen on these, but quite remarkable none the less. All in all its a terrific show and always of wonderment to me what people can produce with very little outside influence. There is also the bonus of an 80 minute long film about Mann and for a moment I thought I was in the Tate Modern.
May be The Photographers Gallery are finally coming up trumps... Shame the Print Rooms still a travesty though.



I believe it was Bill Brant that claimed to place his newly processed contact sheets in a drawer for a few months stating that by looking at the images later the mind was clear from distraction and you could look at the images with fresh eyes, or words to that effect.. (Brant also claimed to look at his images upside down to see if they where balanced, but who looks at prints upside down. Someone also suggested to me to look at the prints in a mirror, if only to drive yourself a little potty. The things people make up!)
I have always tried to do the image waiting game where possible and in fact have only just got round to printing up my 108 project I shot well over a year ago. I don't usually wait this long, but the contacts left me cold at first and I was unsure of the 6/17 format. Personally I think small panoramic images look completely naff, long and thin like a limp sausage, but once those babies are printed they really come to life and I was left wondering why I had not printed these beauties sooner.
I was first drawn to the panoramic as I find it a challenging format. Although made especially for landscape photography it can render scenes quite lifeless and flat if you simply snap away like it was a big fun camera. Verticals and Horizontals need to be straight and you really need to think where the horizon is going which is not too dissimilar to shooting 10/8". Light and exposure are also key factors as you can easily have opposite ends of the light scale in one frame as its so flaming wide. But if you get it right, the results can be breath taking. (have a look at Wim Wenders images and you will see what I mean)
I think its safe to say I like the idea of the Panoramic photograph, but its not my main camera of choice. Its more the weekend camera and something I might take to places I have visited before. Its a bit like the old classic car that sits in the garage. It looks nice, Its not practical, theres not many around, but most of all, its a bit different.


“Pick a theme and work it to exhaustion... the subject must be something you truly love or truly hate.”

Dorothea Lange


Wheres the willy..

Doyle 2010

Image Timm Suess.

Spectrum, located in The Sunday Times supplement is quite fabulous and a good part of any Sunday. Theres a lovely little spread entitled With Abandon which relates to the book Beauty in Decay (a term have have often used myself for the last ten years or so) and the website Carpet Bombing Culture. Both of which are well worth checking out...

But all this decay malarkey got me thinking, and so I had a think..
I have long had a fascination with decay and with it the photographing of decaying things. Dont know why, I just have. But the truth is I find it a real burden. Let me explain;
When I am out with the camera I spend a lot of time waiting for the light. You know the score, you turn up five hours too early, find a cafe, eat a cake and then realise you have four hours to sundown. So what do I do in the mean time. Well, apart from a nap, a little writing and perhaps some push ups, I often look for somewhere I can 'get inside.' An abandoned house, an old school perhaps, or even a hospital. I just cant help myself and never question why I do it. Usually I make a couple of photographs, but there never great, in fact they are just time fillers. I guess I am just curious and the photographs are the proof if you like, a bit like a holiday snap.
I look at all these over worked, ultra wide angled images of decay on line by other photographers, but I don't even like them! But I do find them interesting (work that one out). Its the fantasy element I guess and going somewhere you think will be better than it is but turns out to be one big anti climatic adventure. Its bit like a long awaited night with Beyonce and discovering she has a willy...
I have sold a fair old number of prints over the years, but never once an interior, and a decaying one at that, so there's certainly no other motive.
So at the end of the day I have to ask myself; 'Why do I do it?' Well its simple really, Beyonce does not have a willy..


I was going to stay on last night and wash my hair, then perhaps edit my Croatia contacts sheets.
But I ended up going to the premier of Knight & Day starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz.



While most folks have taken to a large Mac with a side order of Ink jet prints, I of course, still prefer proper prints. As I have mentioned before the paper manufacturing side of things is in a right tizzy;
So Kodak stopped their manufacture of colour paper in the UK. Then they stopped importing certain surface types (from the USA). Then they stopped importing certain sizes. Then they stopped importing altogether. Then they changed their mind and made a big delivery to Silver Print (a London based photographic supplier). Then there was a riot and all the paper was gone mainly thanks to a few labs thinking they were owed it more than others because they think they are good, when in fact they are crap. There were however a few individuals with a bit of fight left in them that may have managed to slip a box between their shoulder blades and punch a their way to freedom. Of course now there's none left, and people may start lifting weights and training in case there's another delivery, and a riot. As for Fuji paper (the only other colour paper made). Well there goes a similar story. First they stopped importing certain surfaces. Then they stopped importing certain sizes. Then they only imported giant rolls of the stuff. Then they eased up a bit and started to import rolls 12 inches wide and about six miles long. Then they decided to start selling sheets again but for some reason sent rolls of paper to Ilford (who have only ever made black and white paper) to be cut into different sizes. Then Ilford sent the paper back to Fuji in Japan who then stuck a label on the Ilford box and imported it back into the UK. Then they made a big delivery to Silver Print and there was another riot, although this time there was no blood spill as the paper has never been as popular as Kodak.
And now there's none left.. Luckily I still have a roll of Fuji paper in my blacked out garage which seems to be endless, I won in an arm wrestle with a guy from Snappy Snaps (he never had a chance due to his bad posture and skinny forearms).
And so you see my friends, this is the type of silliness one has to put up with these days. Even with a product in demand as much as a Willy Wonka Golden Ticket, these big companies no longer produce products for the public, but for profit alone.

"Why not make Billions when we can make.... Millions.." Doctor Evil, Austin Powers.



Freida Pinto

New images of the beautiful and talented Freida Pinto, soon to be seen in the new Woody Allen film,

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger .

To view portfolio please visit www.sarahdunn.com .



As I have mentioned on here one hundred and fifty times before, there's something about the colour green. I was looking for a theme and cars seemed to be the obvious choice.
Both the Sternfeld and the Shore are amongst my favourite images of all time...
I found a wonderful blog today. The Bitter Photographer.
I love it..

Lifes simple pleasures..


The Winogrand Complex...

Anyone with a vague interest in photography will have heard the name Gary Winogrand, and anyone who has more of an interest will know about the greatness of this photographer.
When the ICP in New York held a retrospect of his work in 1995 (I have mentioned this on the B before I am sure) It was a revelation for me at the time (and also my first trip to NY). What intrigued me the most, and still does to this day, was the amount of work he left behind. Some 300,00 unedited images and countless rolls of film. It's a bit of a shame that nowadays when Winogrand is mentioned his accumulation of work is the main topic over actual content.. But lets not get side tracked here as this post is narcissistically about me.
Thankfully I do not have hundreds of thousands of images that will never see the light of day. But I do have hundreds, ok, about 150 at my last count including my 108 project and a fair few images I produced State side, and thats not including the un-processed batch of 50 sheets from my last trip. I should add that this new digital era has produced, and will continue to produce millions of images by photographers that will never leave the depths of the hard drive. But thats mostly down to people over shooting on crap budgets (less budget, but the client expects more images= Stupid!). But thats enough about digital and the ruin of fine photography.
So basically I (along with many others I am sure) go out with my camera. I make a few images, put them to one side, and then you go out again, and again, until I have amassed a pile of images waiting to be reborn. So it doesn't take long before you find yourself where I am now. As I always prefer to shoot (and accumulate) rather than edit and print (or scan for that matter) It will always be the way for me and thats fine for now. For the past few years I have had this situation arise but can never seem to get in the darkroom (or find myself willing to spend the funds) long enough to get myself up to date.
Having said all this, I do think, in fact I am pretty sure, the era of a photographer having one or two memorable images has past. We are so flooded my imagery (good and bad) these days, with special thanks to the tinternet of course, that we are almost blind to good photography. In fact we are so blind that we have to look at what has gone before to appreciate good photography, rather than what is going today..
As for me. Well when the day comes and I don't have anything left to print. Well, that my friends will be the end.


Often while travelling with a camera we arrive just as the sun slips over the horizon of a moment, too late to expose film, only time enough to expose our hearts.
Minor White


He wears sandles..

I always enjoy going to the Tate Modern, even if its just to admire the building and lay in the Turbine Hall with the students. I popped in yesterday to see the Exposed; Voyeurism, Surveillance and the Camera exhibition and would encourage you to pop along if you get the chance. Admittedly I found the entirety of the show to be a bit of a jumble, but a very interesting jumble at that. Mind you, I had no time for the video installations which I felt lowered the tone and makes you feel like a pervert (may be thats the point).
The highlight of my visit was not paying the ten pound entry fee, which is vile, it was in fact being in the bookshop and hearing a young girl say to her friend; "Whats the point in all these boring photographs, there so unhappy and boring.." To which her friend replied; "Yeah, they look like something my dad would do and he wears sandles."
They where referring to The Düsseldorf School of Photography book. Made me chuckle anyway.
Remember folks, the truth will set you free....


“The immediacy of the Internet has opened up a new dilemma for those who feel compelled to respond to criticism of their artwork. No longer is the ear of the critic’s audience the private domain of the publisher. It’s now so easy to let all those same people who read the critique know how you feel about it. I highly discourage the urge.” - Ed Winkleman



Kruno in studio.

I first met Kruno on my first visit to Croatia when he aided my entrance to the old Torpedo factory. After bending a wrought iron door just enough for my slim frame and camera to slip inside, I began to wonder just who this man of iron was.. Years before Kruno had worked at the factory, before that was the ship yard, and before that he was a chef and had his own resteraunt by the sea. Having settled in Croatia some time ago Kruno now spends his days as a sculptor working mostly in iron, steel and sometimes wood. I visited his studio which was like a treasure trove of sculpted goodies. He talked passionately about his work as he made me a fabulous dinner. As we ate surrounded by dust and metal it was easy to find common ground, just two artists not being able to explain why they do what they do, they just do.
We became good friends and share a love for good coffee..



As the storm cleared giving way to bright sunshine and soaring temperatures I arrived in Croatia bald and bright.
It all kicked off with a show in the town of Rijeka and a handshake with the mayor. An overwhelming response and a packed out venue left me thinking it wasn't such a bad idea to have an exhibition in a town few people have heard of outside of Europe.
A couple of interviews later (one of which I actually claimed, like a twit, to moisturise everyday to stay looking younger, but that's another story) and a small TV slot for the local news later, and it was time for the Workshop.
The Workshop began with an hour lecture about my work and technique with an emphasis on Night Photography. A small fault with the projector and the fact I had forgotten my notes did not sway me and I soon had an captivated audience young and hungry for photography.
Two hours later we made our way to the sea front through the crowded city streets. The sun was low in the sky and gave way to beautiful light. There was something for everyone, from old men on boats to fantastic views of the city. If you are wondering what on earth I am doing with a tiger pattern towel on my shoulder, well I never packed my darkcloth due to it being weighted at the corners and too heavy to pack (dam those cheap flights). I also thought it might be handy should I fall in the sea, or perhaps go for a little swim.. Back to the workshop and I had timed the outing to end with the students looking out to sea for some night photography and long exposure technique. Safe to say it was a grand evening out and I felt rather proud to see seventeen of my students all enjoying themselves, making photographs, and perhaps learning something new.
But that was not to be the end, oh no Tito. There was to be a second workshop the following day, but in order to get first light it would mean meeting at four in the AM. I gave the option of meeting at this time, or they could arrive later if they wished. So when 4.00 am came and I seen all those tripods ready and eager the next day, I almost shed a tear which would of been fine because I could of dried them with my Tiger Towel..


15 Kilos is not very heavy..

Torpedo. Rijeka 2010.
Red Lada. Rijeka 2010

The Adriatic's shores are calling once again as I head out to Croatia to what promises to be a fun trip with exhibitions, workshops, lectures and perhaps some diving off big rocks.
I have decided that I would much rather offer my services in places like Croatia that have little in the way of photography than somewhere full to bursting with photographers, photography and photographs. One also has to remember that places like this have not been over photographed, and that my friends is a big issue for the likes of I. Yes, I do feel more appreciated there, and yes I do tire of the UK at times and all its photographically related nonsense.

The title is in reference to the weight restrictions on a Ryan Air flight with check in luggage. My wash bag weighs at least 10 kilos.
Not ideal when you are travelling with a big heavy camera...
Oh and you also have to pay a fiver to use the loo...



Its that time of the month again and another instalment for the very fine THIS IS ENGLAND.
Here's my attempt at the Work brief. Its the quarry works 'up on' Shap, Cumbria.
The exposure was so long I had a little nap on my dark cloth..