29 November 2016

Magazine 5: Creative Review December 2016




Continuing the series of photographs of photographs of magazines - double exposures taken using a Fuji X-Pro2. Sometimes I draw or rip or screw up as well, but not in the case of the above two pictures. I had some doubts about tearing up an expensive magazine but then I figured I only put them in recycling anyway so why not? Besides, playing with them is more fun than flicking through them, which I've generally done in any case by the time I get to making things like the above. I do worry that perhaps the pictures I make are not sufficiently far from the original pictures to warrant posting them on the web and sometimes I decide that they're too dependent on the original image for their meaning or their beauty and in those cases I won't post them; the ones on here are the ones that have made it through this filtering stage, though feel free to disagree with me in the comments if you think I'm blatantly ripping people off; on a bad day I'll sometimes even agree with you :)

This is how it is Now


26 November 2016

The Hive, Kew Gardens


An unexceptional photograph of an exceptional installation. More about it here. The artist, Wolfgang Buttress (what a name eh? Marvellous), has a website here wherein (whereon?) there is some gorgeous drone footage. 

20 November 2016

CMM redux


Pointless Images of Beauty no. 3


Reflections on Well Street

You may have seen this: 


The story is partly outlined by clickbaiter Jonathan Jones in the Guardian here. The photographer is Joel Goodman, and more of his work can be seen here. He's a very talented photographer, although he's described getting the above shot as simply being "in the right place at the right time". What's really interesting though is not whether the shot took skill and talent - of course it did - but whether, having been taken, it merits the plaudits it has earned, and in particular whether it is comparable to a Renaissance painting or other pieces of Serious Art. Seems spurious and a waste of time? Hmm.

Some thoughts:

1. It has caused outrage - from moral condemnation of the scene and characters depicted (decline of England, destruction of the West, fall of civilisation blah blah blah), to condemnation of the photographer for supposedly celebrating rowdiness and inebriation. But didn't this picture cause outrage once?


What''s more, "further understanding of Caravaggio's empirical understanding of the signs of grief is found in the candid imagery of modern photojournalism." ('Caravaggio: The Art of Realism' by John Varriano). 

2. No one cares how hard you worked. R. Mutt put an end to that didn't he, an end to the idea that you had to be a master craftsman in order to have something important to say? I happen, in fact, to think the opposite, that art does take work, a lot of work, and that the photo is but another illustration. But the Art World thinks otherwise and Jonathan Jones is nothing if not part of that world - Art doesn't have to be hard work, allegedly. So, logically, to be of art historical value, the ease of use of a camera has nothing to do with artistic merit, nothing to do with the categorisation of a photograph as important or beautiful or meaningful.

3. The photo is simply the result of "spray and pray" and therefore devalued? No. The photographer has been out on the streets before, many times. He knows his equipment, he knows his cultural context, is brave and willing to put himself in positions of relative danger in order to get the shot. Plus he's prepared to show his work, have his work appraised by the public - hey, he even earns his living at it, a difficult feat today. Yes, photographers can, and do, edit heavily and have many more misses than hits - but all artists have misses, they burn and destroy work that they think doesn't make the grade. Ain't nuthin' new. Photographers have a different editing process is all - a composer edits as they go along, scratching out, overwriting, changing; photographers do the same thing with the delete button.

4. In the end, isn't it the picture that counts? Its merits don't reside in how long it took to get the shot, how clever the artist is, when in their career they made it, in some ways even who made it - what counts is the content. A perfect copy of a Klimt is a thing of beauty to behold, even on a screen (though admittedly it is way better in the flesh). To the collector and the art snob, provenance is King. To anyone else, does it really matter? You respond to the picture no matter what. If the photo at the top of the page had been taken by Ansel Adams, would it be any better?

5. Do you like it? Do you find it interesting? Does it make you feel something?

Pointless Images of Beauty no. 2


Pointless Images of Beauty no. 1


2 November 2016

Phillip Stephenson


Coke


Yeah right whatever


Introversion and Photographing People

Hmmm. A bit of a conundrum. Despite the blog and Instagram account, I'm a bit of a quiet person. I get embarrassed easily, I don't like being the centre of attention. However, I have to take photographs or I feel incomplete - do you know the expression "a day without an argument is like an egg without salt"? That's how I feel about taking pictures. The rationale behind this blog is photography and I have changed my life as a consequence of my love for it. But I am not a social success, I find socialising painful, and like any true introvert, rather than getting energy from being with other people I find it enervating. Which presents a problem for me because the thing I most like taking pictures of is people, they're the grail for me - everything else seems a bit pale and dull in comparison. Trouble is, because I don't find being with people easy I have to adopt a persona, I have to pretend to be relaxed and happy chatting and interacting when really I'd rather be eating my own spleen with a spoon. I know that some people can be both shy and successful people photographers - Diane Arbus I think was one, though I'm not absolutely sure; I think I heard that Annie Leibovitz might be another. In fact I think that some people get in to photography because they are shy and having a camera in front of their face at a social gathering is way easier than simply talking to people - that's certainly true for me.
What to do? I'll come back to this post in due course and develop it, in the meantime I took this recently and I wasn't totally paralysed with fear and social difficulty so all is not completely lost, but do bear in mind the huge hurdles I had to overcome in order to get near to taking such a photograph and the fact that, had I more than the social skills of a badger, I might have got some amazing pictures:


UPDATE 7/11/16: I think maybe it's a mistake believing that I need to adopt some sort of fake persona in order to hold things together - just to be myself is surely the answer? However, I can't help thinking it is easier to be oneself if one has first had a period of time where one has been successful and therefore one becomes the go-to person regardless of personality, if that makes sense? In other words, one has built up a client roster and is in demand and one can take a bit of a hit if one suddenly drops the pretence and simply is oneself. But that's not a position I'm in. Sure, I have some regular clients but not enough to ensure that I wouldn't simply drop out of circulation all together if I was as shy and retiring as I'd really like to be when with a camera in hand...

In the Woods