Road Trip?

Death Valley 2010

Travelling around the UK is an interesting, and at times quite difficult experience. We all know this country was never meant to occupy the millions of cars on the roads and that is one thing that will never improve and only get worse. Downsizing the car (see pic) and cramming all my gear, and occasional dogs, into the back of a mini is far from ideal, but filling up a large car with gasoline at today's prices is a bit more daft. Anyhow, add to this the horrendous Service Station (providing its not ten miles off the motorway) as the bus load of football fan pensioners arrives at the same time you do, plus cuisine only fit for the dogs squashed into the back of my car, some sick and watered down cappuccinos, and there you have the makings of a UK road trip.

For a number of years I was totally spoilt cruising the open highways of America stopping off with great ease whenever I felt the hunger rumble or my eye lids get heavy. It wasn't all plain sailing of course, but the main difference is that America was built on roads and not the other way around like the UK.

For the past couple of weeks I thought it might try doing a few trips by train. I had these romantic notions of pleasurable reading, making notes, and being at one with my thoughts. What I got was screaming children (half term, what an idiot I am), more sick, moody fat Northerners, and a limp butter sandwich. I worked out that the average cost of travelling this way is around 90 pence per mile (if you pay on the day) which is pretty horrendous given the service (is it any wonder the roads are clogged)..

Having said all this, my ongoing project here in the UK is becoming one of the most fulfilling projects I have ever done.
If something is too easy we tend to get a little flippant, and perhaps a little cocky and over confident. The struggle is part of the process and something I have come to embrace.


National Portrait Gallery investigated judge-winner relationship

One of the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize's judges has been forced to respond to accusations that he favoured his partner to win the contest Fourth Prize - allegations that have now been strongly discredited by the National Portrait Gallery

Author: Olivier Laurent

Photographer Abbie Trayler-Smith received Fourth prize at last year's Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize, which, it has emerged, was judged by six judges including her partner Harry Borden.

In a statement issued to BJP, the National Portrait Gallery said that it "discovered after the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2010 awards ceremony that there was a close personal relationship between one of the judges and the fourth prize winner."

"As soon as this was confirmed the Gallery responded immediately and decided to investigate," says the Gallery. "The investigation was carried out by an independent member of the Gallery's Audit and Compliance Committee. Following investigation the report concludes that although all the photographs had been judged anonymously, there was an apparent conflict of interest. However, the photograph by the fourth prize winner had been voted on separately by three judges, and all six judges had together agreed on the final awards."

Speaking with BJP, Borden explains that the judging process was very rigorous, and that at no time did he favour Trayler-Smith's picture. "It takes more than one judge to award a prize. I think that the different articles that have reported on this ignore the fact that we were six judges."

Borden has received the support from the National Portrait Gallery, which said that Borden "did not at any stage speak in favour of this image."

However, the Gallery has decided to alter its guidelines for this year's edition, as well as for its BP Portrait Award 2011, asking all judges to declare any conflict of interest when they arise.

I have come to a personal conclusion that most competitions are far from fair. Over the years I have seen what goes on behind several so called legitimate competitions. With favours for a favour, you scratch my back and perhaps I will rub your feet. Or simply wanting to have a certain popular artist within their establishment. But of course its not just photography, the entire planet is corrupt, you only have to look at the inauguration of ex president GW Bush to work that out.

I find this whole thing pretty ridiculous, but hardly think its a big deal. I have known Hazza Borden for a long time and consider him a very decent chap. Whether or not he did fiddle his vote, it was fourth place, not first, and I would of done the same and so would you. Its the whole floored process of the judging that I despise and this event just makes a mockery of the system. You only have to look at this years Bradford Bursary to see how corrupt these things can become with most of the winners being repped by the judges.

Magic Roundabout. London 2011.

I cannot think of anything that would be relevant.....


I was sad to see the last post from Mark Page's Manchester Blog this morning. Mark's Blog has kept me entertained for some time as he was the most honest and thought provoking of all bloggers.

It does prompt the question; 'Why Bother?'


Where do we go from here..

After one of the longest, darkest winters, which has been a bit like a season on the planet Pluto (strictly speaking no longer classed as a planet), the time has come to start organising this years trips overseas. Of course there are those hard to reach far away locations here in the UK which I plan to conquer in an aid to finish this Coastal Project which has become somewhat burdensome due to lack of funding and the fear of a half finished project.
Croatia is a given for the third time with the promise of new regions to explore and new images to create. As always there are a fair few possibles which may fall by the wayside which would appear to be the norm these days including Russia, New Mexico, Texas, a big chunk of Europe, and somewhere else in the form of a cheap flight and a 'Stuff this I'm off..'

If you want job security, a regular wage (or wage), a positive outlook, and any kind of respect. Don't choose photography. Choose a chippy..


What is success..............

There's a very interesting thingy over on Colin Pantall's delightful blog which asks ten photographers the question;

What is success?

I like what the people have to say, but whatever the answers might be no one ever mentions that success is fruitless unless you have someone to share it with..
Pioneer Town. 2011

Street Photography

There's a super exhibition on at the London Museum on Street Photography through the years which you can read about and get a taste of here.
As we all know taking your camera to the street these days has the same reaction as trying to steal a baby, so hopefully this exhibition will show just how important, delightful and indeed historically significant Street Photography is.


Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing..


About ten years ago I met a chap in San Francisco who was a dealer in Vintage photography. He had come to one of my first solo shows State side and offered me some excellent advice and critique on my work. He told me of a time when he made photographs everyday and how much he loved photography. When I asked him why he stopped, this is what he told me.

I had gotten to know the great Andre Kertez in the 60's and would often go to see him to talk about photography. We became very good friends but in all the time I knew him I waited almost ten years to show him some of my work. After drumming up the confidence I placed ten of my very best images out in front of him. He just stared at the images for ten minutes and said;

"Are these really the best you could do."

After that moment I could never bring myself to make a single photograph ever again.

I have heard many stories like this one, but I was really moved by this guys story all those years ago. Its something I keep in the back of my mind whenever anyone asks my opinion on their work, or indeed whenever I get the big book out..



Everything is so nice and sweet here on B Mode, but sometimes I like to let off a little Doylee Steamage....

I mentioned Richard Nicholson's work here last week and his series of images on 'traditional darkrooms'. I have even put up a little video so you know all about it. But this rant is not about him or his very lovely photographic project. Oh no, this is about the Gallery (although its not a gallery its a run down hole) the work is been shown in. I hate the Riflemakers Gallery located somewhere in Soho in London. I hate its peeling paint and front door that always sticks. I hate its sloping floors and worn our stairs with an accident waiting to happen and its stupid low beams and locked doors around every turn. I thought I was in a squat was it not for the well dressed snooty staff who looked at me like I was going to hold them up at gun point, take their house keys, break in, use there toilet, produce a couple of malteasers and then not flush..

I do believe good work can be enhanced, and indeed should be with regards to exhibiting. But its also possible to degrade even the best material with silly ideas like fine prints pinned to wall and hanging from bulldog clips, cheap and nasty like an Iceland Party Platter.

Anyway that's it. Had to be said. The place stinks, literally...


I am sure you remember my saying regarding the medium we all know and love;

"Someone's either doing it. Has Done it. Or is thinking about it!"

Over the years I have come to the conclusion that we all take from someone be it subconsciously or otherwise. Take the image here for example. It could be considered to be a blatant rip of from Stephen Shore and his images of food as he made his way across the United states. But of course its not. It's simply me with my i phone just capturing the ridiculous banana whaffle island. I did however think of those early Shore images shortly after taking it.

So you see folks, no matter where you are with a camera (or similar device) your either 'Doing it. Have done it. Or are thinking about it.'

Sick anyone...



Chevron and Taco Bell. 2010

It's difficult to know where my work will take me these days. Gone have the times when photography filled my mind 24/7 and I have pretty much done all I set out to do regarding my work and now look for other photographic avenues to pursue.
I'm one of those Fine Art Photographers that is in the strange parallel of the industry where my work falls somewhere between 'Quite expensive, but not expensive enough' category. The larger prints are silly money to produce as they are to ship. Add on to this mounting and framing and you have spent over 1K already. Also take into account the always unjustified, but accepted, 50% split from a gallery and you are looking at a fairly hefty final price tag (lets not forget taxes either). I haven't even mentioned film, processing and other expenses incurred whilst out in the wilderness. Basically its a rich man's hobby. And I am not rich...

I have battled with this Fine Art situation for a long time doing almost anything it takes to fund projects choosing to find a way rather than wait until funds and timing is right. I don't think things will ever change and I don't fantasize about making the big time and selling work for hundreds of thousands of dollars. I don't know how other people do what I do (well actually I do) but I don't want to know.

I don't expect anything from anyone, never have. But what I would like is for people to stop asking me to do things for free. That's all..

Now read this.


It is better to want what you have than to have what you want...



Michael Hall image.
Michael Hall image

Beautiful work over on Michael Hall's Website. The look is quite digital, but not in an over done way and something I can personally live with because its not all just technique, there's some real thought here and some wonderful locations.
Nice to see digital landscape done well for a change and not just revved up HDR (accurate colours my ass)..
Wonderful stuff...



Although it may not appear so, as I don't post about it much, I love street photography but as I try to keep this humble blog mostly about landscape I have not opened this door of delight just yet. However, recently I was sent a link by a friend regarding Vivian Maier and its just simply remarkable. There's an excellent blog here which will fill you in far better than me and has all you need to know.


What is England... The finale...

The What Is England project had its final instalment today with the theme Rural. Admitidly a few of my own shots were done previous to the project, but I never wanted to shoot something just for the sake of it..
Anyway, it was a pleasure working with Stu on this and I hope the whole project does him proud.

Bursary Bollox..

Image Jim Cooke.

Its not that I am bitter that I have never gotten anywhere with grants, bursaries and kind giving. But I did throw a tiny tantrum when I failed to make an impression with the Bradford Bursary this year which would of come in very handy to help finish my Coastal Project.
I won't go on about how I think most of these things are rigged like scaffolding on a house, or how I was told rot like my images are too pretty for that kind of thing. No, not me. Instead I will direct you all to the excellent work of Jim Cooke who is one of the winners of the prize this year. Jim's work stands out, one because its good, and two because it's not predictable and safe like the rest.

More Ongoing Stuff

Abandoned petrol pumps which have a hand written 'closed' sign on them but it was either that or a better angle showing lovely warm light and a reflection in the booth window. 2011
Strange looking house with a green drain pipe. 2011