29 March 2014

30 Wedding Photos: 16

So, number 16 and why this particular photo? I mean, not technically difficult and not startlingly original. But but but... well here's why: 1. The expressions - these are not a group of women who have been hanging about for 90 minutes waiting to have their photo taken; I asked, they said yes, I led them to some shade and a neutral-ish background, took about four shots in quick succession and boom, there you go - everyone looking happy and beautiful. 2. The colours - I like the colours. 3. The dresses - yep, colour me effeminate, but I like the different dresses. 4. It's a happy memory of a happy day.  5. Summer - what's not to like about a glorious summer's day? Even though we are in the shade here, there's no doubt that this is a lovely summer's day; probably if you are in the know, attuned, you can tell that these women are English and might guess that we are in England where such days are rare (no, I didn't ask them all their nationalities but there's something about their looks, their skin and the fashion). 6. The flare - I could have removed it in post but no, on balance, I like it - it mirrors the earring of the woman 2nd left and it adds, I think, rather than detracts - feel free to disagree.

As an aside, you can see I am not a purist when it comes to documenting weddings - yes, I prefer candid, unposed photographs in the main, but sometimes there are groups of people just crying out to have a picture taken together and this was, in my view, one such group.

28 March 2014

No, not quite

The colour is all wrong despite a long time in post, plus I don't like the composition as much as I thought I would. Definition is missing plus plus plus a dozen other things. Dang but I had high hopes for this. The shadow of the pram is in the wrong place too. I might have to go back to give it another go if I am in London over the next couple of weeks. I thought perhaps (a) I should go back during daylight hours; and (b) I should take a tripod and use a long exposure, pushing the pram out and away from the camera ... Oh but I don't know, maybe the shot simply isn't there. The pram though, when I saw it, I was amazed - I'd recently toyed with the idea of buying a pram like this and so seeing it there in the church was synchronicitous (such a word?); my thoughts previously had centred on taking some shots of it in a field under starlight, solitary, slightly scary: maybe I'll still do that, but I couldn't turn down this opportunity.
So anyway, work continues.

The Merchant of Venice

The Merchant of Venice

The Merchant of Venice by the Malachite Theatre Company at St Leonard's Church, Shoreditch

There's more information here

23 March 2014

30 Wedding Photos: 15

So then, no. 15: and it doesn't look like a wedding shot at all. Probably because it was taken at about 8.00 a.m. in a barbers where the groom, his best man, and a number of his male friends went for a wedding morning shave. This little girl is with her father here, in the window seat of the shop. The smiles make it, and the backlighting helps - it's not going to win any awards, but a lovely moment between father and child is frozen forever in time. Take that, video!

22 March 2014

Some Quotes from A Face to the World

A Face to the World is a beautiful, erudite and funny book about self-portraits written by Laura Cumming, one-time art critic for The Observer - you can find a copy at a tax avoider's website no doubt. Anyway, here are some quotes that struck me as especially worthwhile:

"Since painted faces cannot hold your interest by changing expression, much depends on the character of [the] look. It is the first pace we go, as in life, and if it is too tentative, blank or disaffected it might also be the last; the overture rebuffed.
[But] Whenever the look that originates in the mirror stays live and direct in the final image then the viewer should have a vicarious experience of being the artist..."

In an inept self portrait "the artist goes into a loop of looking at himself in the glass and reproducing that look that meets nothing but itself."

Klee: "Art does not render the visible. It renders visible."

"What the eyes have seen, literally and metaphorically: this is the concern of all art."

One of the hazards of letting a self portrait out into the world is that it may be "classed merely as a professional advertisement or some sort of self-serving signature. In short, that it may not be regarded, still less appreciated, as an actual work of art that has passed through the imagination and intellect. Sometimes it seems surprising that so many artists are willing to take the risk."
(Emphasis mine).

Jackson Pollock: "Painting is no problem. The problem is what to do when you are not painting."

"... literalism generally stifles the spirit." (Ah me, an important observation for the photographer to think about and work towards overcoming).

"Just to be able to fool the eye, create an illusion like a mirror, may have been all the world once wanted of art, but art had long since exceeded that function."

Salvatore Rosa, painter, 1615 - 73:

"I do not paint for money but for my own satisfaction," he informed one dispirited patron, "so you must allow me to be carried away by the power of my raptures, and to wield my brushes only at a time when I feel myself to be ravished."

"For every person who senses sorrow and resignation in Rembrandt's late self-portraits there will be others who insist he shows nothing but battle-scarred pride, and this ambiguity is the peak of his art. The many shades of nuance in a Rembrandt self portrait are exactly what deepens one's sense of the artist."

20 March 2014

New Georgian


There's something about digital rendition of skies, in coloured pictures, that's not quite right; sometimes in B&W there are issues too, but less frequently. Colour, though - nope, digital doesn't do overcast very well. Although, that said, the Fuji X100, for all its faults (see Mrs Lemon's passim), does render certain skies quite nicely.

19 March 2014

30 Wedding Photos: 14

Sometimes an eye is enough, a single eye. Well, almost enough. The mirror is also needed, and the hair and hand - together they add up to something beautiful.
Of all the different parts of a wedding, often my favourite pictures come from the getting ready part of the day. Partly I think this is because of the access, the trust: brides and their entourage, or grooms and their's, are to be complemented on their bravery and it pays off - letting in a photographer while you prepare your look for the day ahead, it ain't easy. Sure, partly it is maybe convention and people let their desire to do the conventional overrule their desire for privacy, but there remains a huge amount of value in these pictures because of the likelihood of the photographer being able to capture an unguarded moment. And unguarded moments have the potential to be far more beautiful than any number of arranged or posed pictures.
So, above, a beautiful young woman is prepared, and prepares herself, for her role in a ceremony the origins of which go back centuries and strike at the heart of what it is to be human. I think there is a little of that to be read in her eye. And I'd like to thank her for her bravery and for allowing a stranger to do his best to show this to other people.

13 March 2014

Next Door (3)

Next Door (2)

Previously Next Door

Next Door

30 Wedding Photos: 13

Looking through past wedding photos I'm struck by how many of my favourites involve children and, thinking about this today, I was struck by the thought that it is possibly due to the fact that they are so emotionally available and open such that a camera doesn't phase them. All the time I'm trying to capture emotion in my pictures, something real, a feeling not just a simulacrum. So it isn't that surprising, therefore, that they are featuring a lot in these 30 Wedding Photos I'm posting at the moment.
The photo above - well, I'm not going to say much about it: it speaks for itself like any good picture should.

11 March 2014

Ellie / Sam

Moonrise, Powis Castle

By criminey, trees are beautiful are they not? My brother believes them to be the highest form of life - they live for centuries in some cases, they don't have to move for food, they look beautiful and are generally just pretty darn special. Some of them took a bit of a beating around here the other day what with the 100mph winds and all, and some didn't make it through, but this one survived and I thought merited a picture. I'm not sure that the picture adds to the sum of human happiness by much, and it certainly doesn't have sufficient elements of ambiguity or evolved pictorial significance to make it something that one would come back to time and time again, but as a silent testament to the beauty of a tree's form, well, it's not so bad.

8 March 2014

30 Wedding Photos: 12

The groom and his mother. It's all in the gesture and the expressions. B&W works better here, IMHO, because those two aspects, the look, the action, they're all you need and colour would be a distraction.

M, Soho