Happy Christmas. Blah Blah Blah...

 Christmas Trees. The Borders. Very Cold. Marcus Doyle

Well I seemed to have spent another year doing whatever I wanted managing to survive as an artist. Every year it gets a little more difficult, but somehow I find a way. I guess some might say its all to do with my love for photography, and yes, that plays a big part, but mainly its from being able to adapt although this has not been through choice. All the galleries I once knew in the UK are now dust with comissions few and far between. But my Christmas message this year is not to dwell on the negatives of this difficult and changing industry, but to encourage all those at the start, middway or on the verge of collapse to remember why you got into photography in the first place (because its all you wanted to do and nothing else mattered).
Of course I know this message will make no difference (I feel depressed just writing it.!) but at least I tried. 


Lynne Cohen.

Lynne Cohen June 2011

I was very saddened to hear that Lynne Cohen had passed away last May of this year. 
I first met Lynne after a lecture she done at the Royal College of art in London. She was full of energy and a lot of fun, not to mention a big influence for me early on when I started using a large format camera. Her large scale prints were sublime and I often wondered how such a small little lady managed to work with a large 10/8" Deardoff Camera.
We had always kept in touch via email over the years and it was great to liaise with a photographer of such talent whom I considered to also be a good friend.
When Lynne became ill she told me; "Being sick is not the worst thing, the worst thing is not being able to make photographs." For this to happen to someone so passionate was very sad indeed. But the Lynne I will remember will be the happy little woman with the big camera. 


 Things like this just wind me up, but Johnathan Jones has made my day for writing this..

The $6.5m canyon: it's the most expensive photograph ever – but it's like a hackneyed poster in a posh hotel

Peter Lik’s hollow, cliched and tasteless black and white shot of an Arizona canyon isn’t art – and proves that photography never will be
‘Beauty is cheap if you point a camera at a grand phenomenon of nature’ … Phantom. Photograph: Peter Lik

 Photography is not an art. It is a technology. We have no excuse to ignore this obvious fact in the age of digital cameras, when the most beguiling high-definition images and effects are available to millions. My iPad can take panoramic views that are gorgeous to look at. Does that make me an artist? No, it just makes my tablet one hell of a device.
The news that landscape photographer Peter Lik has sold his picture Phantom for $6.5m (£4.1m), setting a new record for the most expensive photograph of all time, will be widely taken as proof to the contrary. In our world where money talks, the absurd inflated price that has been paid by some fool for this “fine art photograph” will be hailed as proof that photography has arrived as art.
Yet a closer look at Phantom reveals exactly the opposite. This record-setting picture typifies everything that goes wrong when photographers think they are artists. It is derivative, sentimental in its studied romanticism, and consequently in very poor taste. It looks like a posh poster you might find framed in a pretentious hotel room.
Phantom is a black-and-white shot taken in Antelope Canyon, Arizona. The fact that it is in black and white should give us pause. Today, this deliberate use of an outmoded style can only be nostalgic and affected, an “arty” special effect. We’ve all got that option in our photography software. Yeah, my pics of the Parthenon this summer looked really awesome in monochrome.
Lik’s photograph is of course beautiful in a slick way, but beauty is cheap if you point a camera at a grand phenomenon of nature. The monochrome detailing of the canyon is sculptural enough, and a shaft of sunlight penetrating its depths becomes the phantom of the title. Yet, in fact, this downward stream of light is simply a natural aspect of Antelope Canyon. Look it up online and you will find a vast range of photographs that all show the same feature. They are all just as striking as Phantom. The photographer has added nothing of any value to what was there already. Google is full of “great” pictures of this awe-inspiring natural feature.
Someone has been very foolish with their money, mistaking the picturesque for high art.
As a colour picture without any arty claims, this would be a valuable record of nature. Instead, it claims to be more than that; it aspires to be “art”. It is this ostentatious artfulness that pushes it into the realm of the false. For the artistic ambition of this picture is so very derivative from paintings that were created more than a century ago. Just like the very first “art” photographers in the Victorian age, Lik apes the classics in order to seem classic.
Phantom aims for the sublime, that sense of awe in front of nature that was described by Edmund Burke in the 18th century and taken to lavish heights by painters in the 19th. American painters especially, such as Frederic Edwin Church and Albert Bierstadt, used a heightened romantic style to express the grandeur and amazement of the American landscape. Later, Georgia O’Keeffe added a surreal dreaminess to the west’s iconography. Film-makers, above all John Ford, were influenced by the American landscape painters when they put the west on screen.
Phantom comes along in the wake of all these representations of the American landscape in art – and lazily emulates them. It is a cliche: easy on the eye, easy on the brain, hackneyed and third-hand.
If this is the most valuable “fine art photograph” in history, God help fine art photography. For this hollow and overblown creation exposes the illusion that lures us all, when we’re having a good day with a good camera – the fantasy that taking a picture is the same thing as making a work of art.


Some people might think I have returned to my old black and white days when sillotted trees were all the norm.  Just a simple mechanical camera, a single lens, and a roll of film. But alas no, I made this 'Kenna' style image last week out of the window of a moving car using my phone.
Although I still have a hard time getting around the fact that images like the one are possible using a phone, it shouldn't really matter whether it was a phone, or a 30k camera, because we all know its how you see the image that counts. I just hope no one wants to buy a large print...


Into Darkness..

 Lone Pine CA 2014
Lone Pine CA 2014

Sooner or later I always come back to Night Photography. In fact it was night photography that got me started in photography at the tender age of twelve. Most would consider it a bit strange to see a twelve year old boy walking round in the cold northern night with a camera, but there you go.
Last week I had a small evening gig with a handful of students around the Old Street area of London and was reminded how straight forward shooting at night actually is. 
The two images represented here were made quite recently, but still shot in the same way I have always worked, F8 and a bit of counting. I was particularly pleased with the white car image, especially when you consider it was made with only moonlight as a main light source and even then there was a moon eclipse during the exposure (about an hour give or take).


Whilst chatting with a fine fellow photographer in my home town the other day I was reminded of how very often the best work is made when a photographer knows an area inside and out. This is especially true In tthe landscape when a certain quality of light can change everything. One only needs to look at bodies of work where photographers have revisited an area may times in days, weeks, months and even years. (I realise this is too big a subject to tackle on a train with an iPhone so I shall move on and get to my point..)

As with many in depth chats with photographers the conversation soon came round to camera kit. As a photographer still using film the same questions always crop up in terms of quality, convince, cost etc. and then it suddenly dawned on me that despite the leaps and bound in photographic technology it cannot change the foundation of a photograph; light, subject, composition, exposure. Keep  this in mind and how you get to the final image becomes irrelivant..


An early morning stroll before breakfast in King City. CA 2014


 Click here to view American Colour Gallery.

Millennium Images are pleased to present a gallery of images focusing on American Colour taken from our extensive library. The gallery includes images from a number of our most prominent contributors including Michael Ormerod, Kent Baker, Lydia Panas, Marcus Doyle and Luke Hayes. The introductory text by Neil Campbell, Professor of American Studies at the university of Derby, U.K offers an insightful look at the historical significance of American colour photography.
Jean Baudrillard wrote ‘I was here in my imagination long before I actually came here’ (America 1986: 72) and as we look at these images of the USA one is struck endlessly by a similar sensation of dreamy recognition; of half-remembered movies, Edward Hopper paintings, country songs, and Beat novels. Yet this dreamscape is counter-posed by a critical regionalist consciousness that scrutinizes the imagined place and interrupts the dreaming with an awakening sense of other, more complex forces of history and culture co-existing within the frame.  If this work is photocinematic, then what we have are film stills fragmented out of the flow of the total movie and supplemented by visual interruptions that challenge comfortable notions of mythic completion and closure.
A  solitary teenager stands on the edge of the road, about to cross, but paused for a moment, blowing a bubble with her gum.  This is a suspended moment, captured in the intense, dreamy blue colour that saturates the image with the girl picked out in sharp focus fully absorbed by her ‘childish’ action whilst the ‘adult’ world of fast food outlets and truck-stops is distanced and blurred in the background.  Her glasses in hand, her vision is focused only on the moment, detached and separated from the world to come, as if she is in her own ‘bubble’ too, on the threshold of the world she is crossing into.  The intensity of colour and the quotidian details of the everyday that recur in these photographs re-state America as an uncanny hybrid of dream and loss, innocence and experience, past and present captured and colliding in the extraordinary framing of time and motion.

I was sent this link while on the road in the States. Its a great selection and turned out to be a great bit of inspiration..

Book covers, in particular novels, are one of the few outlets for fine art photography.
I thought this one worked particularly well. 


Fake oddities. Very odd.

The Fake Ghost Town. Somewhere on route 66. Marcus Doyle

The ghost towns of America are fascinating places and of course great for photography (and often photographed to death). But there is something very odd when someone goes out of there way to create a fake ghost town.
Upon entering the place (early Sunday morning, no one around), nothing felt quite right. In fact it was most eerie. The strange thing was that I just wasn't compelled to make any photographs. Everything just looked odd and out of place. 

I guess you can't beat the real thing...


More roadside oddities..

Sometimes its nice to throw caution to the wind and just photograph something because you like the look of it and nothing more. 
I thought this place on the Californian /Nevada border near Beatty would make a great film location. Maybe a horror, or some kind of road trip stop off. 

Good to see my old home town coming up with the goodies. Sadly I cannot make this one.


Motel Room. King City. CA 2014 Marcus Doyle

I was reminded recently how much a photograph can trigger a memory and remind us of a place in our past. Of course this is something I studied in depth during my time with the masters in photography  prison camp. But as we all know a photograph can also make us want to be in a particular place. We see a warm inviting lamp and perhaps a cosy room with a nice  flowery duvet, but the reality is often very different. As it happens this particular room (above) was cockroach infested, a little damp, and a little smelly. But for the equivalent of fifteen pounds a night, what do you expect. 

Seedy American motel rooms are certainly one of those things that look a lot better than they actually are..



Trona Pinnicles. CA Marcus Doyle 2014

With an update to my ever growing website (here), and the beginning of my Virtual Water project series (here), there is of plenty new work to see.
I will be releasing the VW images over the next month or so with added information about the project.

The image above is one of my favorites from the trip. On this particular occasion I was fortunate to have the place to myself, however this did mean I had to position the camera, open the shutter, and then drive around a little. Those pinnacles are further away than they look.!


Just another American Roadtrip..

Little has changed since my last road trip in the United States. It may be one of the biggest cliché in photography, but the American Roadtrip is always something that I hold dear. This one seemed long, threes weeks staying in some less that desirable Motels (a novelty that soon wears off), and eating the same kind of food (an even worse novelty). But it was all in a good cause with the Virtual Water project images being released over the next few months. 
All shot on fim, but I was not without my trusty digital Fuji.

This particular trip never crossed the border of California, but still had an array of interests with some places I had never heard of and others I had frequented in the past like the Buck Shot cafe (see left and below).


A special thank you to my film sponsor who came through for me once again for my upcoming project.


Still Film..

There was a time when the digital verses film debate (boring I know) was all the rage. But these days people don't even ask anymore and just assume film has gone forever. Well it hasn't and every time I scan an image shot on film my faith in the medium is restored, especially when that image was made in the dead of night. In terms of highlight and shadow control, long (very long) exposure, battery life (no batteries with my camera) and all the rest of it, film still has its place. People just don't know it.


2014 Environmental Bursary.

I was delighted to be awarded an environmental bursary from The Photographic Angle in conjunction with the Royal Photographic Society last week. The bursary will fund my Virtual Water project that I plan to begin shooting in October. 

In order to obtain my bursary I was invited to the RPS awards event, a swaray  of photographers and industry linked folk along with some new friends and old enemies. It was a pleasant evening, and a humbling experience to share the same stage with some of the very best photographers. 

I was a little disappointed that the queen wasn't there as promised, but you can't have everything. 


You take the high road and I'll take the low road..

Several years ago I began a project called 108, (the walkable distance along the border between East and West) a series of photographs looking at the border between Scotland and England.
This project was started before there was any public talk of Scotland wanting to become independent, however, having a Scottish mother and an English father, there was always talk of these things in the house I grew up. I say talk, but it more my fathers shouty opinion that a huge wall be built between the two, and my mother's cursing threats of going back home to live with my Auntie Morag in peace.
With these things in mind I was always fascinated with the border, so much so, my first ever photograph was made looking over a motorway bridge in the dead of night with the city lights of England in the distance, a familiar scene after countless trips back and forth as a child to see my Grandparents.

After working on the series for about twelve months I hit a bit of a brick wall and the images failed to inspire me further. I put this down to the fact that there really wasn't a lot going on. It was one of those projects that sounds great, but offers little in the visual sense. And so the project was shelved for a few years.
Once I heard about the possibility of the Scotties gaining independence, my first thought was that my fathers wishes might now come true and a huge wall would be built, complete with gargoyles and those holes for pouring out hot oil on the enemy below. However, after my visions of death on the borderline I thought now might be a good time  to return to the 108 project, hopefully with more vigor, and more importantly a higher purpose. And so I set out once more and completed the project in November of 2013.

I must be honest and say that this project just really got on my nerves when I was shooting it as I just felt nothing for the images at the time. But now with all this talk of change I have to admit to being rather fond of the old 108 series.

And so now I would urge you to look at these images and think of me walking the border in a bad mood, especially now that there is an overwhelming number of photographic projects based around the border in the run up to September 18th, and most of them are pretty dull...


Images form the 108 project.


A Tree made of shoes and a dusty old shed..

I would never confess to being in anyway envious of my wifes achievements over the years, after all we began our photographic journey together. She made images of people, I made images of everything else. Of course there were times when conflict would ensue after spotting something quirky on a road trip like a Tree made of shoes or a dusty old shed in the desert, but those moments were rare and long ago.

I noticed about a year ago that the tables were turning when I heard the words;
 "I think I would like to do an exhibition, or maybe a book project, or both!"
And so in a time when I seemed to be on some kind of unintended sabbatical opportunists for my better half, in what I considered to be my domain,  started to take shape.

The exhibition process is the same for any photographer; The idea, The negotiation, The images, The edit, The prints, The panic and feelings that your show is going to be crap, The Opening, The relief, The debt. OK, I could of left The Debt bit out, but you get my drift.

Its been interesting seeing things from a different perspective, but its not been without its 'Tree made of shoes' moments.


London Analogue Festival logo
16 August 2014
Industry news
In an era when digital technologies are ubiquitous, the London Analogue Festival (LAF) returns to celebrate the beauty, power and aesthetics that come from analogue technologies. From the 12-14 September 2014, the LAF will draw together international artists for a weekend of live performances, talks and exhibitions in the heart of London at Bargehouse, the distinctive, atmospheric warehouse space at the Oxo Tower Wharf on the South Bank. It will be a rare opportunity to enjoy side by side film screenings, photography and sound art exhibitions - all in analogue media, and a unique event offering the public a welcome cultural alternative to the mainstream digital experience.
The London Analogue Festival is part of a movement celebrating and promoting analogue technology as used in the arts and, intent on educating the next generation in the fundamentals of the techniques involved, brings innovative new creations to the limelight. A recent addition to London's cultural calendar, the LAF will offer under the umbrella of one event, a platform to well established artists, such as Terry King, as well as new upcoming talents from across the world on which to showcase their art, network and perform. With no entry fee, it will give all Londoners and visitors a chance to discover- or rediscover- analogue, to meet artists, explore the intersection of technology and our senses and develop new skills.
Building on the success of last year as the first multidisciplinary festival, the London Analogue Festival has forged a network of associations across Europe with like-minded organisations. Through these links, this year the Festival will host a selection of films from the Italian Analogica Festival, Analogue Mania from Romania will showcase Emil Kindlein bespoke solid silver microphones and artists from Revela-T in Spain including Josep Maria Ribas Prous, the first Spanish author awarded the title of “Maître of the Fédération Internationale de l'Art Photographique”. With sound art there will be participation from a range of different musical genres, including vinyl DJs, Jono Pomodore from Metanono, and upcoming artist Tamara Scar, from Element 79.

Conceived by David Guerrini-Nazoa, the Festival is run entirely with the help of passionate volunteers as a non-profit organization, on a budget mostly dependent on sponsorship and donations; a Crowd Funding Campaign will be launched today in support of the Festival. Partners in collaboration with the Festival include, amongst others, in the UK Fujifilm and Silverprint, from Europe Lomography and Impossible Project, and Pro8mm from the USA.

For more information about the London Analogue Festival visit www.analoguefestival.com
London Analogue Festival 2014: spearheading the Analogue Resurgence in the heart of London
A three-day festival celebrating analogue film, photography and sound art
Friday, 12th – Sunday 14th September 2014
- See more at: http://www.rps.org/news/2014/august/london-analogue-festival-2014#sthash.dWPT1VZl.dpuf