Red Cone 2010
Little Man Doyle by the sea 1978

Seeing photographs of family outings by the sea, even ones where I am stood precariously on a cliff edge in strong winds, reminds me that most of us have at sometime or another ventured to the 'brink' somewhere in the British Isles. A holiday at Butlins, a B&B in Margate, or a day-trip to Blackpool, most of us have at least heard a crashing wave at some point in our lives and perhaps rolled up our pants for a dip of a fat toe. After all we do live on an Island (I refer to the British inhabitance) , something which can be quite hard to imagine if you live in North London, like me.

This Coastal Project of mine is coming on nicely and fast becoming my biggest undertaking. Its a bit of a monster, especially now that I have decided to include the borders of each country within the British Isles. Basically I'm 'Outlining The U.K,' or at least the interesting parts..

Onward and upward....

Like all great travellers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.
~Benjamin Disraeli



Juergen Nefzger. from Fluffy Clouds.

The one thing I admire the most in any photographer is dedication. Commitment to a project-be it big or small-in photography has to come from deep within. Some photographers can say exactly why they are driven to do such wonderful things, where as others maybe not so sure and just have an overwhelming desire to get on with it as scenes take hold.
Three of my all time favourite photographers cannot answer the question of why they 'take pictures'. Joel Meyerowitz, Stephen Shore and Joel Sternfeld. At least thats what they say when they're interviewd for the TV programmes I have seen and talks I have heard. They have no sure fire answer, and neither do I. In fact I usually tell people to mind their own business.

The best photography projects are the most simple and need very little explaining. Sure there are whole stories underneath the service, but what the viewer sees first is usually what the photographer seen first.

I first came across the work of Juergen Nefzger a few years back with his Nocturnes series (now a book), but found images cluttered and of no real interest. I thought of them as just images taken at night and nothing else. But then his book Fluffy Clouds came along and I was bowled over by the simplicity and consistency of the images. Its amazing where a single theme can take you and this really is a perfect example of how the simple ideas are usually the best.

I have never been one of those envious photographers. If somebodies work is good, its good, and I will enjoy it. But when a photographer has a good 'project' idea, the dedication to see it through, and the skills to go with it, well that's a little different.



Take a chance on me..

I think I'll have the hazel nut ice cream after this press conference, or may be chocolate. no I''l have both, and some raspberry sauce.

Over the years I have found the best way to get people interested in a project is to tell them about it, but don't show them any images. Not only does it send people a bit nutty, it creates a belief that the images will be absolutely fantastico. Of course this always leaves room for a huge anti-climax if the project itself is a pile of old boots. But why would you tell people if you didn't believe in it and think it was, well, very good..
This technique works in any field, not just photography and I do delight in such endeavours.

I think its often the case that galleries and agents tend to take people on either if they are very well established, which is only natural, or like me, and many others, there might be a slim chance that you may suddenly become exceedingly popular and everyone wants a piece of you. This is especially true with galleries but it just doesn't work that way and I personally find that kind of behaviour a bit of an insult.

I seem to have gone off on one so will end with a classic quote;

Anyone can be confident with a full head of hair. But a confident bald man - there's your diamond in the rough.
Larry David


Whats Seal doing in Calumet.

I did a pic like this once.

So there I was minding my business in London's once great Calumet, mincing around the hundreds of camera ruck sacks and insanely priced tripods, and generally wasting time. When in walks Seal. The man who brought us songs of love and reassurance in an uncertain time.
I would like to write that Heidi Klum was also there and offered to get undressed so that everyone in the shop could take her picture and try out a lovely new Hassleblad with a few different lighting set ups, me having priority because I was the most alluring. But alas this did not happen.

"Where's the Camera section gone." I heard the tall dark handsomeness say in a voice as soft as petals, but as strong tree roots. Where indeed I thought, and suddenly recalled just how many cameras, enlargers and lenses I had bought over the years from this very place.

Calumet is just a shell of a place now. Shame really. But it really says something when even a pop star notices the changes..


Luca Tronci

Take away the unnecessary desaturation and you have an excellent project No Season by Luca Tronci
I much prefer the edit on Foto8 than the one on the website.
Right up my street..


Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer - and often the supreme disappointment.
Ansel Adams.


Are you a Smudger...?

So there I was this afternoon, camera at the ready, looking out to sea under a storm grey sky somewhere near Margate. As I was about to release the shutter on a 'red cone lying on its side' number, a middle aged gent strolled up to me and said;
"Are you a Smudger....?"
At first I thought I had been propositioned in a way only Uncle Monty knows how and I immediately looked behind me to see if I was standing near a toilet, or a bus stop, giving off some kind of signal.
"I beg your pardon?" Was my reply.
"A Smudger, you know, a photographer.." Replied the dear gent.

Well I have never hear this term before, but soon got that it was a sixties thing with press photographers and those buggers that conned people along the Thames with their empty Box Brownie cameras..
And so after a nice chitty chat about and how Turner happened to paint the very skies I was under that day I went on my way for a bit more smudging.


I am definitely not the first to mention Gerry Badgers The Pleasures Of Good Photographs,
but its a great read and will have you quoting The Badger at every photographic opportunity.
I am pretty sure it will be up there on the Robert Adams and Susan Sontag shelf in no time if its not there already.
Quoting something from the book would be futile as you may not go out and buy it.

Its that time of year again.

Well it would seem that this week is all about winners. There's that big fat Blurb book prize with the winner here. Which is excellent by the way. And then there's the AOP awards here (not such a big prize, in fact what do you get!). And finally the IPA Awards here With another juicy prize.(Ok that was not this week but I needed another..). There was also the Sony World Photography Prize and the Jerwood Visual Arts Prize a few months back, not to mention all the others competitions I have obviously missed and of course the ones to be announced later in the year.

It seems like everything in photography is a competition these days. I happened across an advert for a photography workshop the other day on how to self publish. With all these on line publishers knocking about these days I thought it might be a good idea to check it out. But what was this? You had to submit a body of work and then the 'winner' was allowed to sit down with some fella who showed you how to self publish. Merciful Dogs, is this Pop Idol for photographers. I would much rather pay for someone's services than the cost of printing an entire body of work with the risk of being told to shove off. Its a bit like asking a girl out, and then having to defeat her ten evil ex boyfriends before you can give her a kiss and perhaps run your fingers through her hair..

Standards are slipping my friends and people are getting lazy. You simply cannot call people up any more and pop along with your portfolio on a Wednesday afternoon. I know budgets are being slashed and funding is disappearing, but what happened to spending a little time with a photographer without taking their money. You can't even get your work criticized these days without paying for it. In fact if someone wants to criticize a photographers work, they should pay the photographer.!


Its an oldie, but a goodie..

The Grove. Los Angeles 2000. I think!

I found this image floating around the internet. It must be ten years since that winters night in Los Angeles. What I do remember is that it was the roof top to some 'fancy pants' shopping mall and we were one of the last to leave. I must of had my camera in the boot of the car. I imagine if I tried taking a photograph on a roof top car park in London I would probably end up being backed into a corner and have to fight off twelve of those 'Special' Constables with my top off..

Roof top parking lots, a single car left behind (has to be a Cadillac or similar). I was never the first to see this, and I am indeed not the last. But so what.... We all take from someone...

Anne Lass

I for one am always making pictures. Be it in my head as I walk around town like a dandy, with a compact camera as I liaise the coffee shops of London , or on location with the big film beasty.

Although I often feel that I see the world completely differently to everyone else as a photographer, its hard to explain to others unless you physically show them, hence photography.
Anyhow, my favourite kind of photography is the observing kind with images that tell a story and perhaps revealing something new each time you look at it. I often think that on many occasions the photographer will see something new in their own work long after an image has been made, either recorded subconsciously, or without a second thought.

Anne Lass has some very interesting observations on her website, in particular her Geography Of Nowhere series.
To be honest I am not so keen on the light and airy approach to landscape so many photographers do these days, although I do realise the reasoning behind it. Having said that I think it works quite well here.


Photography is not cute cats, nor nudes, motherhood or arrangements of manufactured products. Under no circumstances it is anything ever anywhere near a beach.
Walker Evans


"Just because its big, and just because its of somewhere nice, doesn't mean its a good photograph.."

Some old fella I met in a cafe.

Alejandro Cartagena

Edward Weston once said that the problem with Mexico was that it was easy to develop 'postcard syndrome.' Meaning that the place was so picturesque that everywhere you pointed the camera there was a picture to be made, and not necessarily a very original one at that. The work of Alejandro Cartagena is 5485.13 miles away from those obvious clay pots and cattle skulls on old wooden doors. AC's website overall is a wonderfully well done body of work covering many issues, some often associated with Mexico, some not so much.


L'INSENSE Photo is a beautiful French photography publication with 156 pages measuring 37 x 27cm. Each publication has work from a particular country, and of course the reason I am writing this is because the latest edition is British. There's a nice selection in there and you will find my efforts across page 74 & 75. Casting aside the fact that the caption is completely wrong and the image was made in the UK and not in Ventura California, the reproduction is beautiful and the image looks great.


I'm a stranger here myself.

Alien Telephone Box.
Border City series.

I tire of parents and folk telling me the olden days were much safer and better. "Do you remember when people left there doors open." they say (usually because if they lived where I grew up people had nothing worth stealing), or "We used to walk around in slippers sipping tea and sharing jam sandwiches whilst helping each other build sheds. It was so safe back then and there was never any crime.."
Well I don't believe it was any safer at all. Bad things were just less publicised.
Having said that I dont remember much bother growing up other than the odd granny getting into a street fight with a neighbour, some teenage pregnancies, and a pervert of an ice cream man lynched by the locals. I was left to roam, climb trees and sharpen sticks like all young lads should.
As part of my Border City project I have photographed a lot of these places in and around where I grew up, each image with a little story to tell. Take the image above. This telephone box was once the old red type and started as my own personal Tardis. Then it was used to make my first phone call, it cost me 2 pence. Then Me and eight of the local kiddies tried to break the world record for how many people could fit inside, little did we know it was double that. Then after many years of abuse, the telephone box was replaced with a new one and this was the only time I had seen it without the windows smashed.

I particularly like the picture of the alien on kiosk. A nice metaphor I think..

Phil Underdown.

Now theres a fella who likes grass..


Image Michael Marten.

I spend a lot of time waiting for the tide to come in, especially with my ongoing 'By-Coastal' series. But I never thought to show the same area with the tide in and then out. Michael Marten has done this very well with his series 'Sea Change' and I can only respect his commitment to such a project.

The more I think about this in and out business with the sea, the more I realise I don't like either. What I like is the tide moving, in or out, never full or empty. That old trick of long exposure and flowing water is a cliché I have come to master and love.. However I am getting a little tired of everyone slapping on a Big Stopper (a ten stop neutral density filter which sold out faster than a Take That get together concert) to every picture they make.

Just for fun;
If your exposure for a seascape was 1 second at f45. (about right for 100 asa film on a cloudy day) With a 10 stop ND filter your exposure would be 20 minutes (17 minutes plus 3mins for reciprocity failure).


Now I love a bit of patterned carpet and even posted a snap on here of some snazzy number I did at a wedding last week. So imagine my delight when I discovered some fella had done a whole series on Las Vegas carpets.
His name is Chris Maluszynski and I picked up on the work here.


11th August- 11th Sept. Cork Street location..
August Bank Holiday. Brighton 2010

Rob Ball

Image Rob Ball. Great Eastern.

I mentioned the work of my soon to be good friend Rob Ball quite a while ago regarding his Great Eastern series which I find quite fabulous. His website has been updated with lots of fruity goodness and well worth a look here.

Rob's work is not loud, but neither is it quite. His work has a certain softness, but with sharp edges. Its light, but at times quite dark in content.

A photographers photographer for sure..



Croatia. Early AM.

It had been a while since I last ventured out early in the AM with my camera (I mostly prefer the workings of late evening, with the mornings I feel like I have to work backwards!).
The early mornings can be a wonderful time with a camera with no one to bother you, wonderful light, peace, quite and the open air. That is of course unless you are somewhere like the seaside town of Brighton where I beheld delights such as; People throwing up luminous liquids on the pebbled beach, townies fighting foreigners around their precious fire, and sprawling drunkards who couldn't remember why or where they were. The highlight of this one particular morning was seeing some scantily clad female in thigh high boots and pink knickers eating something vile and shouting I too sexy for my skirt. But this was toppled by the very drunk old fella who wobbled towards me on his bike and then crashed inches from where I was stood only to then swear profusely and try to cycle away with only one peddle.
For one such as I who has travelled the length and breath of the UK, across America and to remote locations around the globe, this was a slightly unnerving and unexpected experience. Having said that, I often prefer to see the under belly of such places. It certainly makes mornings more interesting..
Heres my 'PLAY' image for the What Is England. Note the tennis racket in the window and my observational skills..
Check out the rest here.