It was a very good year?

Its been an interesting year, so where better to vent and boast than here on the B Mode..

Being a student..
Becoming a student at the start of the year was far worse than I could of imagined. The first time I was at college I was twenty years younger, had a full head of hair, although perhaps a little thin and wispy, I was handsome, tall, slim and very popular. I loved being around people and making new friends. I loved life, and I loved being a student without a care in the world. I was also very naive and had no real life experience apart from a few broken bones, a failed engagement. But I did have a camera, a trusty Canon F1, and that was to take me places I could not of imagined at the time. Although three years at college gave me a little life experience, it did nothing for me in terms of a career in photography and I came to the conclusion that I was either too young to do a degree and benefit from such endeavors, or I had just been handed a piece of paper from Mickey Mouse.
That was all 22 years ago and in that time I have worked for some of the biggest names in photography via the darkroom route. From these humble beginnings I managed to begin a career as a fine art photographer using my darkroom skills to finance my trips. As the gallery sales and representation grew I ditched the darkroom never to return (apart from my own colour work). Thirty odd shows and three books later I decided the time might be right to go back to school. This time things would be different. I was after all a serious photographer with a career behind me so a masters in photography seemed like the right thing to do, especially now that I had a little taste of Lecturing on photography, something I enjoyed very much and had the idea to continue. 
The MA allowed me to finish a project I began many moons ago relating to my childhood memories, this was indeed a good thing and I finally finished the project late in October.  MA Tutors do not like such methods as mine. They believe you should experiment and step out of your comfort zone coating photographs in bodily fluids and perhaps jumping on them wearing muddy boots. Well apart from the fluids and mud, I did indeed step outside my comfort zone exploring pieces of my past which I find uncomfortable at the best of times. So to cut a long story short (and this post), I got what I needed, but will not thank my tutors or the college for it..

The highlight of the year has to be the revival of my Salton Sea series 'Thursdays by The Sea'. A body of images almost forgotten which turns out to be some of my best work. Everything about this show was right. The gallery, the final prints and presentation, the edit, even the opening night was one of the finest. But the best thing about the show is that it came at a time when I doubted myself as a photographer and it pulled me out of the Masters Mire and onto better things.
Second to this was my solo show in the Museum of Modern Art in Croatia. A series of images made in and around Croatia over a four year period. A total of fifty images graced the walls and it was a project I was really pleased with after being given free reign and spending time with the wonderful Croatian people..

This year seen me 'accidentally'  destroy two cameras, two lenses, a tripod, a light meter and a laptop. One of the cameras and a lens was borrowed from a very good friend of mine whom I am yet to repay via a big framed print. But I am pleased to say we are still very good friends. The other camera was launched from a windy cliff top in the American desert at the beginning of a photographic trip which was disastrous. However, it did give me a bit of a holiday and a nice series shot on my digital compact. Nice as long as you want nothing bigger than a 6/4" print..

2012 was probably one of the worst years for business I have encountered with the closure of my main London gallery. The closure of a gallery is often like a divorce and rarely ends well with Who gets what, and Who will be out of pocket. Although I did not have a gallery mistress, I did manage to find a new gallery very quickly and totally by chance. Like a divorce it can be hard to continue any kind of relationship.
I have never considered London the best place to sell work, (hence my move to mostly US sales) in fact its become rather pathetic over the years with this year being one of the poorest. So I have decided from now on that every time someone says; "If I win the lottery I will buy one of your prints." I will put a pound in a jar rather than giving them a good slap (something I find quite insulting) and probably be quite well off..

So thats pretty much it for 2012. I cannot say it was a bad year. No one died, I have a roof over my head and the ideas keep coming. Yes there will be miserable times and probably long gaps of nothingness, but thats the nature of the business. I won't say I am going to do this that and the other, but rather leave you with on of my favourite quotes from George Burns;

"I honestly think it is better to be a failure at something you love than to be a success at something you hate."



If theres anyone out there still reading this blog



Well if this cannot convince me to go digital, nothing will...

Remember, misery is comfortable. It's why so many people prefer it. Happiness takes effort.


My old friend, the cold night.

This week seen me venturing out into the dark abyss with what was to be my first night outing for some time. I had decided begin my new project in January realizing I need more time to think about the structure and content (and possibly free my mind of my student ways, MA done and dusted with a cherry on top, or rather on the side as I like to be awkward).

Without giving to much away the plan for the new project is basically very long exposures, with darkness and nothingness. This can only be done with film and Fuji are very kindly sponsoring the project and have given me oodles of film to play with. The sad reality here is that this may be the last major project shot on large format film as who knows what will become of it, but lets not go there just yet.

So back to the other night. Well after donning the thermals, giant boots and a woolly hat, I crunched my way through the frosty leaves looking for something worthy of a £10.00 shot. (I refer to the cost of film here) To say I was a little rusty (or maybe that should be frosty) would of been a slight understatement; pulling the slide of of its holder before putting it in the camera, thumbing with apertures and dropping my torch (happens a lot), forgetting my stopwatch, not tightening the tripod legs after having my hand stick to one of them, forgetting to wipe the lens from condensation, falling over like a pensioner (twice), and finally doing a twenty minute exposure before realizing I hadn't loaded the camera.  But I eventually prevailed and after a few hours I was a natural and back to the old ways.


Looking For Love. Alec Soth 1996

I was intrigued to hear that Alec Soth has published a book of work he had made way back in 1996. Intrigued because like my Salton work, and for whatever reason, the work has lay dormant for some time. Although Soth's work was made some sixteen years ago it has been published in the way it was originally intended. 

"Alec Soth‘s photobook „Looking for Love, 1996“, including his photo series of the same name, looks back to the time of the beginning, the time when everything is still open and exciting, when everything gently falls into place. It‘s the phase of the beginning, that forms the basis not only of a new love, but also of each new photographic project. It‘s a book about searching, about the curious and intuitive approach to people and their stories. About falling in love to a medium that opens insights to worlds that would otherwise stay hidden – intensive and haunting like an interminable night at the bar."

I love this idea and am testament to the idea that returning to images after several years can be a really wonderful thing..

Theres also a good review of the book here.

 No its not wheres Doyle, or spot the baldy, its me hosting a talk at my Thursday's by the Sea show last week. A thoroughly enjoyable event at Margaret Street, the new home for my British representation.  Being one of my favorite bodies of work its a pleasure for me to talk about it in a little more depth. Whats interesting is that talking about the work when its right in front of you far out-weighs doing a slide show which I always feels has a bit of a detachment as the work is basically a copy of the originals.
A splendid crowd and a real boast for moral at a time when I appear to be at another cross roads regarding my work. 


The Student..

After being on both sides of the photographic education for a while now
I am now under the assumption that a large percentage of photography students are often unhappy with their course. Often it is not the course structure itself that is to blame, they are there to learn after all and most schools are very good at this (I think, although some may disagree). What I find is that the students often lack the desire and the inspiration to go out and shoot something, anything, and often they feel like they are being forced to make images of something they are really not interested in.
When I do a landscape workshop there is often a fair bit of walking. (often to a spot I have chosen prior but pretend that I have just found it) During that walk the students very rarely take any pictures, or even look at anything with a photographic eye. They wait for permission to go off and shoot whatever they want (I always tell students if they see anything they like they should shoot it) and this is how it is regarding photographic eduction. 
Photography is about individual interpretations. Thankfully we all see things differently and that, I think, is one of the beautiful things about personal photography.

Students are like a Kinder Surprise. Chocolate eggs all the same. No one is really interested in the sickly chocolate, its the surprise inside that people want to see..

Photography eduction can teach you photography. But it cannot teach you to be a photographer.


Last Monday seen the opening night for the end of year MA group show (yes that Masters degree I have kept so quite about). The Masters is pretty much done now, and although I have despised having to be a student I enjoyed doing the project (The Flowery Room) and my dissertation on Memory and Photography.
I am very aware that there is a period after a show where one asks; have a done a good job? Is anyone interested? Should I take some pills? The anticlimactic period is always there, especially with a solo show or a book publication (a book being much worse, and permanent).
I am not going to say it gets better and offer words of encouragement, instead I will leave you with this thought;

If you want a career that is full of self satisfaction, well paid, regular and secure, open a Chippy... 


It had been some time since I'd felt the salty breeze on my large friendly face and thoughts of my 'By Coastal' project filled my mind as I headed for the coast. 
I have always liked arriving at the sea side and the feeling of arriving, knowing that you can't really go any further without getting wet..
Anyways, I was taking a small Night Workshop by the sea for some third year students and in an attempt to re-kindle my Night Photography I had brought along my tired and battered 5/4, camera of champions. Without going into too much detail the type of night photography I do lends itself to this format. (It is also very good to demonstrate technique and composition thanks to the ground glass screen). You may be able set your digital camera to the highest ISO setting and hand hold the swine to get daylight looking night shots, but once those babies are anything bigger than a 10/8 print, your looking at trouble. So imagine my delight when I beheld students lugging large format cameras and big tripods. This was most encouraging and of course their images will be the best and win all the prizes...


I bought my last box of Kodak 5/4 film today. It was my last box because it cost £48.00 for 10 sheets.

"When I asked students at Yale what they planned to do, they all say move to Brooklyn – not make the greatest art ever."


Bruce Wrighton

It has always bothered me how some photographers rise to photographic stardom while others, as good if not better, are left in the shadows.
Bruce Wrighton was around at the same time as Joel Meyerowitz, Shore and Sternfeld shooting big 10/8" negs. He came before the likes of Alex Soth but sadly died young leaving behind a wonderful body of work shot in New York.


There is a nice review of my latest show here.
Hopefully there will be more soon.


Conscientious | That has got to tell you something

Conscientious | That has got to tell you something

Hallows Eve......

It wasn't the ghosts, or ghouls, witches or fat Frankenstein  monsters that scared me. It was dolls faces, especially in the form of moving puppets. That and my Auntie when she removed her teeth and chased me up the stairs.... 



Posted by: Tim Bilsborough
Photographers are artists and will interpret your ideas into reality through imagery. Professional photographers have extensive knowledge in showcasing brands and products, and consistently delivering to the very highest standards.
But before any magic happens, there is a small matter of money and how much you have to spend on photography. It’s a dirty word to some, but money makes the world go round. Like you and your client, photographers are in a business; it just so happens it’s a job they have absolute passion for, living and breathing it every waking minute (sometimes dreaming about it too) but this doesn’t mean they will just do it for the “love” of taking pictures.
As businesses they have their own overheads and their estimates will be broken down into a number of areas, such as:-
  • Their time taken
  • Post production
  • Travel expenses
  • Vehicle hire/purchase
  • Studio/hire studio overheads
  • Photographic consumables
  • Equipment hire/ purchase
  • Assistant’s fee
  • Specialist shoots resource e.g. hair & make-up, fashion stylist or food stylists
  • Insurance
  • Sustenance
…Just to name a few, so:
Time + expenses + specialist help + overheads = £Estimate
Photographers instinctively know what’s needed to deliver the job you have briefed them. They will go away getting their head around a brief, going through the whole project processes, deliberating on photographic techniques and sourcing appropriate resource. And only then, submitting an estimate to do a job which will do the brief justice. Estimates you will be happy with or not.
When photography is commissioned, it is usually one of a number of other elements that are being commissioned at the same time. Quite often, for some reason, photography budgets are a contentious area, and there is a lot of pressure to make savings in this area. Why is this the case – does the budget setter think that it is just a single individual doing the work and only factors in day rates because they aren’t aware of the real overheads? Does the budget reflect the shot count? Does the budget allow for the fact that commissioned images can have an impact on their customers’ perception of their brand and has a huge bearing on the perceived quality of the product?
Budget isn’t the only thing that affects the quality of an image. In our opinion, the planning and briefing of photography is often woefully neglected. A more collaborative relationship with your photographer – not just a request for a quote, will mean that you have the opportunity to get the planning and briefing right first, and this can lead to a high quality and cost-effective shoot.


Its been a bit of a turning point for me this week; A Fine looking show in the West End, finishing off my MA project, and turning a mighty 40 years of age. All big things, but by no means a revelation, oh no, that would be discovering that someone has been commissioned to do a shoot using an i-Phone and Instagram.


Tuesday 23rd opened what is probably my most satisfying body of work, and exhibition, so far. Everything was just right from the large aluminum mounted prints, image curation and overall design of the show. This of course is all down to the gallery as I just supplied the prints.
The gallery was packed across both floors all night and I left happy and warm knowing that this one was 'just right'. 
Of course now the real work begins..
Margaret Street Gallery



Marcus Doyle 

This haunting image by photographer Marcus Doyle is taken from his "Salton Sea" series, which forms part of his Thursday by the Sea exhibition, opening at London's Margaret Street Gallery this Tuesday.
Click here or 'View Gallery' to launch gallery
Formed accidentally after a flood in 1905, when water from the Colorado River overflowed into the area, Salton Sea – the largest lake in California – is a shallow, saline rift lake, situated directly on the San Andreas Fault. Such was its allure in the 1950s, it was a bigger tourist hotspot than Yosemite National Park. But, as the sea became polluted with sewage, and its water levels began to fluctuate, to the extent that whole towns were flooded with filthy water, tourists, along with the local population, were driven away.
Inspired by Richard Misrach's photographs of the area, Doyle created this series of images between 2004 and 2005, when he would travel to the waters from Los Angeles every Thursday, fondly referring to his trips as "going to the seaside".
In this series, Doyle, who shoots exclusively on film, has captured the ghostly quality of abandonment and decay in this peculiar, forgotten landscape, yet also hints at a sense of rebirth, thanks to the extraordinary quality of light, which lends his creations a serene, if eerie, atmosphere.
The exhibition will be showing until 2nd January 2013.
From The independent.


A well needed website update today. Some old, some new, some odd, some blue..
The above image, and new opener, is one of my personal favorites despite dismay from tutors who find it too romantic and cliche...


Limited Edition

Everything comes in a Limited Edition these days; Watches and Jewelry, Cars, Aftershave and Perfume, cans of Coke, and even food from McDonalds along with chocolate bars and a certain shade of lipstick. All this in a vein attempt to make you think you are buying something unique, precious and rare.. Which of course you are not. Everybody wants something original, but, at the same time, other people also need to have/ want it in order to make it desirable. (go work that one out).

I have worked with Limited Editions since I began to sell my images and the numbers have never changed. Its the first decision a photographer/ artist needs to make and is  the one thing that should remain the same. Unless that is you do a limited edition of the edition which is just stupid.  The price may go up, the price may go down, but an Edition should be final..
Whether its 1/1, 1/10, or 1/100 the importance of being true to these Editions is paramount otherwise we are left with something worthless, or worse still an Open Edition, which is beyond stupid and renders the work utterly worthless. 'Fiddling the numbers', (and by this I mean selling out the Edition and then selling more, or selling a last in the edition when its not even halfway) is considered fraudulent and you may land yourself in hot water..

Sadly, A Limited Edition, is an overused term today and one the advertising cretins have jumped on. But this will pass over time and we will hopefully be left with something of value in the market place.

Above, Monument Diner, 2004. Edition 7/7


Ian Van Coller.

A wonderful and insightful series, Butte, America; A Vernacular History by Ian Van Coller.


The very question I ask myself when looking at some photography, or maybe more accurately when starting to think about writing about some photography is “Is it interesting?” I’m sure a lot of people will think that’s possibly the most vague question to start out with, but it’s a very useful litmus test: Is it interesting? There’s a lot of photography that, frankly, is not very interesting at all; and when you are going to devote hours of your time writing about it, it better be interesting. 

More here from Conscientious Blog.

Nighty Night..

After a splendid viewing of my new breathtakingly mighty Salton Sea prints, followed a constructive PR meeting at the gallery, I began to feel like a proper photographer  again and headed to the heart of Soho to meet a good friend and fellow photographer. At out liaison I went through my digitized portfolio, otherwise known as an excuse for an i-pad, and after a small espresso spill I began to ponder my work. I have always enjoyed my photography, and by that I mean looking through my own bodies of work often remembering the time and place with fondness. This also ties in with talking about my own work which I often do as a fine art thingybob photographer.
During my photography chitty chat it suddenly became clear that it was the night photography that brought me the most satisfaction, but why was this the case after almost two decades of shooting the landscape? I have a few theories on this, but here is my number one;

 Night Photography (good night photography) is not easy. Its can be very technical, sometimes unpredictable, sometimes dangerous, frustrating, often cold, wet, uncomfortable, tiring making it hard to think straight, and you need oodles of patience. Its not like putting a 10 stop filter over the lens on a sunny day hoping that the long exposure will make a misty masterpiece. Nor is it sticking a crappy image through Instagram  and putting it on facebook (there is no talent in this, put your phone away..). I have plenty more theories on the subject, but these may put you to sleep..

Good Night..


“To the complaint, 'There are no people in these photographs,' I respond, There are always two people: the photographer and the viewer.”
Ansel Adams

How to Edit Your Artist Statement

Write down as much as you can. Write everything down. That means everything. It doesn’t need to make sense. And that thing you don’t know how to say? Just write it down. There’s always words, even for what you think you don’t know. Any words on paper are a start and a start is halfway there. The more material you have to work with the easier it will be to edit.
Alright then: go through your first draft and rewrite using the principles below. Then rewrite again.

1] Never begin with “My Work”. Also avoid any use of “my work” anywhere within the statement. It’s also a good idea to never use the word “work” anywhere at all, ever.

2] You have no duty to the facts. Your loyalty is to the honesty of your ideas, emotions, dreams, desires and needs; what Werner Herzog calls the ecstatic truth. That is your goal. Nobody cares about the minutiae and what you want is to make people care. Tell them a good story.

3] Often, what you wrote at the beginning should go at the end, or the end should be the beginning.

4] Don’t try to sound smart. You aren’t. The world is full of people whose job is to be smart. An artist isn’t held to the same ideals; count yourself among the lucky. Make your statement personal – it’s what you’ve got that nobody else has. What you believe you alone know is why we’re looking.

5] Begin with a bang. Which is better? “My work is about airports and longing . . . ” or “The first time I saw an airport was the last time I saw my father . . .”
6] Cut all excess words.

7] Be wary of repetition. Should you repeat a word more than twice, then it’s something you’re not adequately describing. Write more about that. What you’re missing will be found there.

8] Never apologize or prevaricate. Never use a tone of uncertainty. Write as though you know what you’re doing. State the personal as if it were universal.

9] Vary your sentence lengths – long then short, short then long.

10] Match your words to what you’ve made. Use adjectives and adverbs that feel like what you’ve done.

11] Use a thesaurus to expand your meaning. Always use precise words rather than general words. Construct is better than make. Elegant, symmetrical, graceful, or overwhelming will take you further than beautiful. Roget’s Thesaurus is best and the best Roget is the online 1911 version. Use it to not just to find better words, but as a way to riff and expand on your ideas. Travel beyond what only you can think up.

James Luckett.
Whats in there..


Chandelier, Matt Nighswander.


I have always thought that when you make an image of an object it seems to take on a life of its own, I think the word is Anthropomorphism, but I could be wrong..


Oh what a lovely moon..


Once more into the breach dear friends, once more...

"It was to be eight years before I returned to the shores of the Salton Sea in the August of 2012. I found that most of which I had photographed had decayed further or had disappeared altogether, but the heat and smell of sulphur remained as did the solitude I had always associated with it. The ‘Sea’ itself had receded some 30 meters leaving more salt encrusted decay and less visual appeal, so much so I selfishly longed for another flood to replenish the land and provide more shooting material."

Returning to the Salton was a bit like going back to somewhere you had a nice holiday although I would never recommend a place like this for a week off (having said that it was once was the place to go, although I cannot imagine spending any leisure time there).

I thought it would be a good idea to revisit the old haunt just out of curiosity and perhaps write something to tie in with the upcoming show in October. My feelings about the sea had become somewhat jaded and perhaps a little romantic over the years and I thought it would just be like the old days when I would arrive in my Jeep around 4.00pm and shoot until my heart was content. I had always remembered the heat and the stink of the place, but nothing had prepared me for my return. It was an overcast day, something I had never encountered there before and the car thermometer was already at 117 degrees (47.2c) making the humidity almost unbearable. After only five minutes I looked like David Attenburough in a rain forest full of frogs and was so wet my pants began to chaff my quality thighs. Indoors was even hotter and focusing my camera became almost impossible as sweat filled my baby blue eyes. It was utterly vile and I wondered how I managed to do this every week for a whole year. But I kept on regardless fascinated by how much the place had changed. Mother nature had consumed most of which I had photographed before which I found most odd being that it had not really been that long. But this was no normal place and the high salt content in the air and on the ground only speeded up the decay process. There wasn't much left to photograph, and I realized had I started the project now it would be totally different.

On the journey back to my hotel it felt good to have revisited the old stink hole (as uncomfortable as it had been), if only to see how much the place had changed. If anything, it has made the images I have more precious knowing that I couldn't go back and re-shoot the project. The images have become frozen in time...