Carpet at a wedding.
MD 2010

So its the five year anniversary of Hurricane today and with it I thought I would mention Richard Misrach's Destroy This Memory. A book of 145 pages all shot on a small digital compact camera.
I am being very careful on this one and do not wish to wave the profits from other peoples misery flag. Besides all proceeds from the book are going to a charity that is helping to rebuild the community, or so I am told.

The fact that old Missy chose to shoot the whole thing on a 4 MP camera tells me two things.

1. He didn't want to be seen as jumping on the band wagon like everyone else and therefore chose a camera as far from a 10/8 as he could get.

2. As he has retired his negatives, he must of retired his camera too.

I just find the whole thing a little weird. I dont know whats worse. A 380 page book of disaster porn shot on large format by Robert Poladori. Or a 140 page book of disaster porn shot on a toy camera by Richard Misrach. What I am personally certain of is that both books will achieve the same thing in helping the people of New Orleans. Absolutely nothing.

I just find these things so unnecessary. If you want to help, either get your hands dirty and go and help rebuild the place, or donate directly to the cause (Brad Pitt done both).

Who wants to buy a book full of peoples misery and suffering..?

Just my 2p's worth, and not something I wish to dwell on.
William Larson. Tucson Gardens.

That Guy..

I came across the work of Guy Sargent a little while back with what at first glance just seemed like a poor mans version of Olaf Otto Becker's photographs with a rocks and water kind of thing. He seemed to have come out of nowhere and had the same few images all over the place (or at least thats what I thought). But recently I had the pleasure of finding his website, all be it completely by accident, and you know what, its a complete treasure trove of beautiful images which when viewed as a whole makes complete and utter pleasurable sense...
How often have we dismissed a photographer after only seeing a couple of images. I know I have.

There are many layers and influences to Sargent's work, alot of which are revealed in his blog. I always find this encouraging from photographers and all the best ones will be the first to admit their influences rather than pass their images and ideas off as total and utter originals (or maybe even look for influences afterwards....)

There are two main bodies of work What Lies Beneath The Surface and London, A Personal View. Both of which are worth a good long look..


Sweet Water..

image Ian Baguskas.

Although first and foremost this tidy blog is all about me, I did think I should put some other peoples work on here and spread the love a bit which I just have not done for a while.

I have mentioned the work of Ian Baguskas on here before some time ago but that was before he done his Sweet Water series. Its a really beautiful project and the nicest I have seen in a while. May be I am reminiscing a wee bit as a lot of the work is made where I used to play, but hey, that's one of the wonderful things photography.




Personal vision : personal voice : personal expression : personal statement

WHEN NOTHING can any longer be done for the first time, how do we do things differently? Working among the surfeit of images, which so characterizes our contemporary world, a photographer’s greatest challenge is to distinguish their personal work from the thousands of competing images on every hand. The RPS Contemporary Group strives to meet this challenge in its promotion of Contemporary Photography. It is proud to present two of Britain’s most original photographers, whose work is stamped by their own personal vision of the world and is recognisably and brilliantly their own.

Martin Parr is arguably Britain’s most celebrated photographer. He is a member of Magnum, author of numerous photographic books, and curator of international photographic exhibitions. He is known for his biting social criticism, keen eye for detail and unfailing sense of photographic humour. For more than thirty years he has been pushing out the boundaries of photography, his style both constant and constantly evolving, and always recognisably Parr.

John Darwell has also been photographing for more than three decades. He currently teaches the MA course on photography at the University of Cumbria at Carlisle. He is the author of seven photographic books, has exhibited frequently in the UK and abroad and is represented in many international collections. His subjects include the post-industrial landscape, the global nuclear industry, the exploration of interior psychological conditions and most recently the phenomena of discarded dog poop bags.

Both our speakers have produced major bodies of work that express their own personal views of the contemporary world. Their personal vision and style is an unmistakable mark of their photography. The RPS Contemporary Group is delighted to offer this opportunity to see and hear two great British photographers tell how they do it.



The event will begin at 10.30; with registration from 09.45 onwards, when tea/coffee and biscuits will be available. Lunch (anything from a sandwich to a small meal) can be purchased at the excellent University restaurant on campus. Through the day, there will be a sale of photographic books authored by both speakers, who will be pleased to sign them, and two photographic exhibitions. It is expected that the event will finish about 17.30, but attendees will be welcome to stay on for books or exhibitions until 18.00.


Lancaster is reached by road via junctions 33 (from the South), or 34 (from the North), of the M6. The University of Cumbria, Lancaster Campus (formerly St. Martin’s College), is about a mile from Lancaster City centre. The Post code, for SatNav purposes, is LA1 3JD. There will be ample free parking at the University.

There are frequent train services to Lancaster, from London (2? hours), and from Edinburgh and Glasgow (2 hours) on the West Coast main line. There is an hourly train service direct to and from Manchester Airport, via Manchester Piccadilly, which takes about 80 minutes from the airport and 60 from Manchester Piccadilly. The train station in Lancaster is on the edge of the City centre, about 20 minutes’ walk from the Campus. It is most easily reached by taxi (book in advance, 01524 848848, and expect a fare of about £4).

There are several hotels in and around Lancaster, which offer good value at weekends.

Lancaster is about 30 minutes drive from Windermere and the southern Lakes; 45 minutes from Ambleside; and 90 minutes from Ullswater. Carlisle, the Scottish borders and the Roman Wall are 60 minutes drive away, and the North Yorkshire Dales National Park about the same. Within easy distance to the south is Blackpool, and, to the south east, the magnificent but little known walking country of the Trough of Bowland. The City centre, with its unique atmosphere, monuments, museums, shops and restaurants (some of them very good), is within an easy walk of the Campus.

This event is generously supported by Wilkinson Cameras (www.wilkinson.co.uk) who will be present at the venue with photographic equipment and accessories for viewing, examination and purchase.


BJP: Which other contemporary photographers do you like?

David Bailey: It’s difficult to say, it takes time to know what’s good. You can’t be good in five years, you can only make an impact. Then if it gets old fashioned that means it wasn’t any good to start with, it must have been too fashionable. Art takes years to become great.


The Marble Ashtray.

The Marble Ashtray. From the Border City series.

The Marble Ashtray was a wedding present to my parents way back when smoking was considered cool, normal and harmless. In fact it was considered to be good for your health as it helped you relax,
but that was in the seventies when people wore flares and baldness was considered an illness, hence the mighty comb-over.
I actually grew up with this Ashtray. It was always there on some coffee table, or balancing precariously on the arm of a sofa filled with ash and cigarette butts. This 'Cancer Collector' as it might now be known was once a beautiful emerald green and often formed part of my toy soldier army defences.
As time went on and my parents moved house, bought new furniture and fitted carpets, the one thing that remained was The Marble Ashtray. Perhaps this disguised household weapon with ruff natural edges and a thin layer of dark green velvet glued to its base was once considered to be of Objay D'Arts quality, but I very much doubt it.
And so now some thirty eight years later The Marble Ashtray still remains residing in my parents garden like a strangely misshaped rock. The once deep emerald green colour has somehow been washed away by a decade of outdoor usage (there will be no smoking in this house) which makes one question the original quality, and location of the find..
One thing which had not changed was the fact it was still full of fag butts, in fact I don't think I every saw The Marble Ashtray empty..


Ansel Adams And the Art World Name Game.

This has been a summer of discovery. Every other week, it seems, someone has come forward with lost works of famous artists.

At the beginning of July, curators at the Yale University Art Gallery announced that a battered canvas that had been gathering dust in the museum's basement for the better part of a century had been painted by a young Diego Velázquez, the greatest artist of the Spanish Baroque. A few weeks later, the Vatican's paper of record, L'Osservatore Romano, proclaimed that a painting that had languished in an obscure church in Rome appeared to be by none other than the early 17th century Italian master Caravaggio.

AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano

Only a chiaroscuro. And late last month, Rick Norsigian held a press conference in Beverly Hills to announce that he owned lost images shot by the eminent American landscape photographer Ansel Adams. Mr. Norsigian had bought a shoebox-full of glass negatives for $45 at a yard sale in Fresno 10 years ago. An appraiser he used claims the trove is worth an (improbable) $200 million.

Yale's Velázquez seems to be holding up without controversy, but the same can't be said for the "Caravaggio" canvas or the "Adams" negatives. It only took a few days for the director of the Vatican Museums, Antonio Paolucci, to put the kibosh on the Caravaggio talk. Writing in the same newspaper that had floated the idea in the first place, he dismissed as "modest" the obscure bit of chiaroscuro.

Back in California, meanwhile, an elderly woman who saw the lost-and-found "Adams" photos featured on the local news came forward to say that she had seen some of them before. She said she recognized them as a few of the pretty pictures taken over the years by her Uncle Earl, a hobbyist. She even has a drawer-full of his prints that may help bear out her attribution.

Even before Uncle Earl's name made the scene, the claim that the negatives were Adams masterworks had produced an ugly brawl. William Turnage, managing trustee of the Ansel Adams Trust, was indelicate in describing the yard-sale treasure hunters: "A bunch of crooks," he sneered, "pulling a big con job." Mr. Norsigian's lawyer fired back, denouncing the "shameful and pointless disparagement of the professional reputations of some of the top leaders in their respective fields." The photos may not bring millions, but you can bet there will be plenty of seven-figure lawsuits around them.

Still, the controversy raises a perplexing question: Why is a set of photos worth millions if they were shot by Ansel Adams, and next to nothing if the photographer depressing the plunger was a nobody? After all, the images remain the same. To the extent that art is about appreciating aesthetic objects for their own sake, is it right to put so much stake in the question of who did the drawing or painting or snapping?

The basic market definition of value is perfectly reasonable: A work is worth what someone will give you for it—an amount usually determined by the intersection of desirability, scarcity and the expectation that there will be someone down the line willing to pay even more. But isn't art supposed to have value that transcends the market—something inherent in the object itself?

We seem to treat paintings like Abe Lincoln's hat, valuing them for their association with great men and historical events. Take a moth-eaten stovepipe: If it came from Abe's White House closet it's a priceless artifact; if not, it's just a worthless old topper. Which is to say, the hat itself, as a hat, isn't a thing of any value. But shouldn't art be something more; something that has intrinsic worth based on aesthetic merit? And so why base so much of its value on who made it?

There can be very good reasons to judge art by who made it rather than by merely appreciating the thing itself. Take two indistinguishable cubist paintings. "We might think they must have exactly the same aesthetic features and value," and yet we would be wrong, says Matthew Kieran, professor of philosophy and the arts at the University of Leeds, in England. "One work was produced by Picasso and was the first cubist art work, the other was produced by me last year. Only the Picasso is original, brave, daring and revolutionary, whereas mine is at best an academic pastiche."

No doubt. But it's also worth imagining what would happen if Vincent van Gogh had died an utter unknown, without any of his paintings ever having been seen or saved. A hundred years later "The Starry Night" turns up at a yard sale, a grimy orphan. Would it be recognized as a masterpiece?

The answer is, regrettably, probably no. Even so, it isn't unreasonable to put so much stock in the reputations of artists, says Jonathan Gilmore, an art critic who teaches philosophy at Yale: "If we don't have enough time or attention to look at every painting, it's better to invest what time and attention we have in considering the work of recognized masters." To that practical reason he adds an aesthetic one: "Our interest in the work by a great artist reflects a relatively justified approach by which we deal with our uncertainty about what is a great work of art."

Given that uncertainty, we might want to be more open-minded when we encounter art of dubious provenance, allowing ourselves to judge and appreciate works for their quality rather than their attribution. Who knows, maybe Uncle Earl was an artist with something to say.

Write me at EricFelten@wsjtaste.com

Article taken from Wall Street Journal.

More childhood memories and my once favourite toy car..

Love that jumper...

Image by Shelia Doyle 1977.

How often we have heard the question; "If your house was on fire and you could only take one thing what would it be?" Followed by the reply; "My family photographs, of course". Although these days it would probably a lab top with all the images on it rather than a tatty old album.
But rather than harp on about the longevity of prints and the soon to be forgotten paper albums tucked away in the drawer of bits and bobs, I wanted to mention the one thing that has made photography so popular right from the beginning, the family portrait. Simply put, the recording of loved ones and proof that they exist has always been in our genes, so what indeed could be more precious than photographs of your own family taken on days which always seemed to be sunny and trouble free.

I often flick through the old family album as its usually kept beside the bed in the spare room of my parents house. My mother, the designated photographer, always carried the Kodak 110 with the cover which also acted as a handle. The image above was made during a holiday at Butlins Bognor Regis way back in 77 (I think). My full head of hair and coordinated jumper and socks makes me realise how stylish I was even back then.
It is safe to say that I don't think for a moment that my mothers artistic endeavours influenced me in any way whatsoever. Had this been the case, perhaps we would have millions more people wishing to become photographers all of them influenced early on by there parents snap shots, and what a flaming night mare that would be. But I am however sometimes fairly impressed with my mothers efforts at recording the families history considering she knows squat about photography.

Who would of thought the likes of William Eggleston (top right image) would go out of their way to plagiarise my mothers talents! If only she had gotten a Dye Transfer print made and not hidden it away in an album.... However, what this does show is that even a 'snap shot' can be a work of art.


Spending almost a week in the woods somewhere in the Highlands of Scotland has done my photographic mind wonders not having to think about photography for a short time. Just to be somewhere without a camera can sometimes be a bit of a relief. Every holiday and outing I have ever taken has always been with a camera, be it a fancy compact, or a mighty 10/8 inch jobby. Its in my nature and probably yours too whoever you are.
And so now refreshed I am ready for action (in case you wondered).

Anyhow, a pointless post, but the sky is begining to bruise and I must go and get my camera...


Nice little spread in the latest issue of Newsweek (see below).
All the images in the article were taken some time ago, and mostly when I was gallivanting in the States.
One of the nicest things about photography is its ability to take you 'back to the moment' when talking about the images. I could almost smell the air in the interview..

Page 34 if your interested.


The ongoing debate over the impact of mankind on the environment took a turn last week,when a major US government study asserted that climate change is "undeniable," and that the scientific evidence of human culpability is "unequivocal". Marcus Doyle offers a different study of what he calls "man's footprint" in the following photographs, which examine the way manmade structures conflict with nature. Doyle says these jarring contrasts are so ubiquitous they are almost invisible. But photographs force people to focus. Sometimes the impact is obvious, and sometimes not. But it's always there.



In an attempt to make my work available to all I am producing an edition of postcards.
Each 6/4" postcard is from an edition of 25 and signed on the back. You can buy a single card, a portfolio of 10, or a portfolio of 25.
They make great gifts and you could even send one to your granny.
I have about thirty images to choose from or you can take your chances. You can buy the postcards directly from me using the menu on the bottom right of this page..
Please email me or leave a comment if interested.

Its a bit of a quirky idea, but I like it and I will see how it goes.

Not available in tourist shops, or newsagents..


Bath. Margate. MD 2010.


How to con the world...

So you may have heard that some fella has apparently picked up a stash of Ansel Adams glass negatives at a garage sale. Full Story here.
Of course the images have never been seen before, which is very handy, and now the blighter is selling prints off the negatives on line. You can buy a hand print for $7500, or perhaps you would prefer an Ink Jet for $1500, or a poster for $45.00, or a stamp for 50 pence..

Wouldn't be so bad if the images weren't so, well utter crap. Come on, how can this be true...

Theres a much more believable story here.

Dont forget to look in your garage. You never know!!!
I have had a copy of John Szarkowski's Looking At Photographs since before my college years but never really thought much about it at the time. In my printing days I kept the copy on my darkroom shelf where is collected a few chemical stains which still hold that familiar smell even now. I rediscovered my original copy a few weeks ago in the bottom of a box along with a first edition of Joel Meyerowitz's Cape Light and Tezza Oneill's Legends. Half the pages were stuck together and the whole thing looked like a relic from a flood. Annoyed at my disregard for the book I promptly went out and bought another copy along with two other books I mentioned last week (the book itself is in its fourth printing, first published in 1972).
Some books should be in every photographers library, and this is indeed one of them. The book was, and still is, a fountain of knowledge, not only on the history of photography and its processes. But also on the Photographers themselves who shaped the photography practice into what we know today.
What is still most relevant to me are the old processes once used described in the book. Strange to think that a photographic process used 150 years ago will out last a process invented last week. So much for advances in technology...



I am often told I just take pretty pictures, and you know what, if people want to think that I dont really give two poo hoots, especially if they are putting one of my images on their mantle. But truth be told there is a lot more behind my images than meets the eye and anyone who has been in the presence of one of my fabulous lectures will be very aware of such a meaty statement.
Its always been my intention to present images with a short statement and then leave the work to be interpreted as others see fit. Afterall, everyone interprets an image differently in their mind, be it through colour, tone, contrast or content. But sometimes a project becomes so personal and moving that I do feel a great need to explain the reasoning behind each image.
Up until now I my three most personal projects have been The Salton Sea, Border City, and most of all North Shores, a homage to my late Grandfather 6' 7" John McGregor. I could talk all day about these images and take up an hour of your time just talking about a single image from any one of these. But today I wanted to bring your attention to my 108 series again (taking along the border line between Scotland and England which is 108 miles long), in particular the image above.
In July 1915 the 52nd Lowland Division assigned to defend the Scottish coast was being moved to Gallipoli. A total of 210 men lost their lives and another 224 were injured in what is still the worst rail crash in British history after a head on collision with another train carrying the 7th Battalion Royal Scots. The image above was taken where the accident happened near Gretna. The section of the river Esk in this picture divides Scotland with England and is where I started the 108 project.
What haunts me most about this image is the thought of what might of happened to the men on their way to Gallipoli had they got there.

You see its not just a pretty picture..

It's only Art..

The naivety people have towards the Art World often baffles me. The general public dont see that Art is important in any way and would quickly choose to live without it if it meant they got a free i Pad or a wide screen television. Even photographers I have spoke to dont see Art as an important part of the system (even though they are part of it) and its not long before you here the words; "Well Art's not important is it, people have more important things to buy other than Art." Yeah, they would rather spend it on plastic kitchens and recycled glass fruit bowels. But this post is not about buying any kind of Art which after all is a past time reserved for the rich who are rarely effected by the economic downturns anyway, so there.
Think about all the tens of thousands that work in the 'Art World', and I'm not talking about artists here. Then think about the thousands who visit all the big galleries most of which are free. Then think about the porters, the cleaners, the coffee makers, the security guards etc, etc working in these places (I could go on all day). Then think about your i pad and the screen saver, then think about your wide screen TV and that film your watching where my friend Billy done the set design for that certain scene. It doesn't take much to realise how much of our lives are surrounded by art. Art is important, and believe me you wouldn't want a world without it..

So Mr Jeremy Hunt, please go easy.
More here.


108 Resurrection..

Heres a few from the old '108' project I started last year. Strictly speaking they are not 6/17 cm as my mighty Art Camera would suggest, more like 6/12 ish, but still very much Panoramic and a nice 2 to 1 ratio if you will.
The original idea was to place the border line between Scotland and England in a single frame, hence the Panoramic format, and all the images follow a similar approach in the project.
The three images here are shot on the West side of the border in and around Gretna. And in case you were wondering;
The top image is separates England and Scotland by the lamp post, the middle image by the hedge row (thought the colours worked well here), and the blue trees by the road on the right. To be honest I am not sure how accurate these are as I went off my Sat Nav so I may be a few feet out in places regarding exact measurements. But its close enough not to don a kilt and wave a sword about.



I bought two books on Friday (a common practice I try to do once a month), Christopher Payne's Asylum and Andrew Moore's Detroit Disassembled. I have mentioned both of these fine photographers here and here before and just love the work I have seen on line. I got both books wrapped which is always nice as there's nothing worse than a damaged book, besides, why did I need to look through the book when I'd seen most of the work anyway.. A swift espresso and an eye for ladies in their summer dresses later and I was on my way home with reading glasses at the ready.
The first one I unwrapped was Detroit Disassembled. But what was this? The layout was utterly horrific. Full bleed here, white borders there, with no sense of uniformity whatsoever. Its a right flaming jumble. But far worse was that all that richness of colour I had talked about and use of 10/8 appeared to have vanished. This could be one of two things, The reproduction which would account for the images apparent flatness, or may be the images has been 'turned up' a bit when they were digitized for the web. We all know about an image looking different on line because its basically backlit like a transparency. But these images had gone from glorious to mediocre in print.
The second unwrapping was brought equal dismay as I viewed another jumble of what appeared to be a very strange edit. The book had all the same problems as the previous one, flat looking images with colours not as zippy as the web images (nice cover and text though with an excellent essay by Oliver Sachs).
I must stress that this is not a critique of the work of these photographers. The work is superb on both accounts. This is a critique on the crossover between web imagery and book publication. I dont want to look at work on line, go out and buy the book and then be disappointed by simple things like editing and perhaps bad reproduction. Had it been the other way round (bought the book and then looked at the work on line) I would not be writing this post. The first impression still holds true here and lets not forget it.

Let me also say this. I suspect, although I may be wrong, that if someone is publishing their own book (and a mighty well done if you are), dont think you can edit the thing as well, it just wont work as you end up selecting all your favourite images in no particular order and are blind to any kind of outside viewing content. But of course this only counts if your book is for a wider audience, if its not then I will shut my face.

All this left me questioning the ethics of books and websites. I do not consider websites to be the cream of a photographers talent. Surely a book is still the ultimate goal for a photographer and therefore it needs to be the best it can be especially when everyone has a website these days.
Personally I like prints and I like books. I like reading about photography and believe that a photographers monograph is a precious and collectable thing that will stand he test of time when a new i-Mac looks like an Atari Games Console.

I have lost my way a bit on this particular post but what should remain clear is that we cannot judge a photographers work by looking at images on line that are smaller than their negatives.!