Category Archives: Thoughts

Meanwhile in the north of France……………..

Le Havre. Aki Kaurismäki and Timo Salminen. Saturated. They impose lush colours (the past?) on to the present. Frame after frame of beautiful photography.  An unreality? A dream? A golden age? everything picked and everything a choice. A lost world. A hand and bread . Stomach pain and a red onion. Masters of colour. They work to set a mood, a tone throughout the work. Creating a tension. Now Vs Then. Them Vs Us. It makes it feel like a ghost story. Spirits and holy fools. Miracles. How long were they in that container? Was anybody alive? Why do these colours make me doubt a surface reading of this story?

Colour use,  making super-reality/reality/fantasy/myth. Adjusting  the image and the world, in context, in shadow..


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Filed under April 2012, Thoughts


A couple of links regarding the display of photography.

The first relates to photobooks and the second to exhibitions.

These are good reminders to keep thinking beyond the click.

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Filed under march 2012, Thoughts


I was looking at Flickr. Trying to find some information on some lens I read about. Its a strange environment. There are nice images on there. Some not my thing. There’s such a mixture of approaches. A morass. No space between things. What does it say? Intent and purpose? Sharing things yes. Things missing too. The idea. The concentration. The seriousness. Does it sell an image short?
Good for sharing but a poor setting.
All these images. They are not presented as ideas or as bodies of work. Visual noise? A few tunes in there someplace.

It reminds me of the importance of the idea, of the overview. That’s what makes the difference. The vision/the intent that’s what you have to make and trust. The idea & the image need to come together.

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Filed under feb 2012, Thoughts

Four Beats to the Bar and No Cheating

David Bailey week on the BBC. This was the documentary part. I guess fashion photography doesn’t interest me so much. Still interesting to hearing him talk and to watch him work. The reduction to the important elements. The energy. The divisions he makes. The document and the other. The image that was there in the world, that anybody could take (unsure if this is true) and the image made. The creation of things. Something invented, built, seen. Something new. From outside?

Myths and parts of reality.

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Filed under Jan 2012, Thoughts


Fight preconceptions. Rules about light. What will bring make a good image . As long as there is light we can create. Notice it pay attention to it. I don’t move fwd with the present exercise. Waiting for the weather and work to align. But I am watching it. Seeing some of the differences. Others seem to come clear through the lens. Different natural lights have different advantages/disadvantages. It’s a matter of being aware. Of seeing the light. Not letting the mind flatten out the differences.
Reliability of natural light. Waiting for it to come. Waiting for it to come as you want it or need it to be.

This is the advantage of photographic lighting. There are greater levels of control. We don’t have to wait.

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Filed under Jan 2012, Thoughts

Learning Log

Trying new techniques with hard copy. Working more as a scrap book. As a sketch book. Tape in things I find that excite. That interest.

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Filed under Jan 2012, Thoughts

Daniel Meadows: Early Photographic Works

Again @ National Media Museum. This exhibition seemed to make everybody smile. It seemed about them. About their world. People. People they know. People I know. Or used to. Figures from the past. Grandparents and parents. People we used to be. There is something different here. A strange mix of document & art. Engaged and involved. Excited by the world? It makes it see old. Such things are old hat? The introductory panels reinforced. Images and letters. Full of energy. With a sense of place and no place for the deadpan, the neutral. There were panels of images from a circus working in Lancashire. Of portraits from the bus project. With images from now of the same people. Like us changed but not changed, except for the spaces. Portraits from a Manchester barbers shop. Images from a residency. Films with Meadows talking about his experiences. How he made the projects and engaged with the people around him. (is art too distant now? Does it in some ways try not to engage?) Spreads from magazines. The Lancashire local that allowed him to work the way he wanted. The work he did with Parr. The Front rooms of Salford houses. The mirror to Coronation Street. So full of details. Of past times. Colour work (also with Parr). There seems to be possibility, seems to be hope and excitement, and joy. The images combine. They seem to slip across boundaries. They don’t sit within one sphere. There are portraits but they are also documents. Even within the
portrait he layers elements. The bus but also subtle edges. The barbershop pictures with their dark backgrounds. Not looking menacing but a party? Or cozy? I love these loops of knowledge. Of a postmodern approach teamed with a love and respect and a very human and down to earth perspective.

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Filed under Dec 2011, Thoughts

Outposts: Donovan Wylie

@ the National Media Museum.
Included images from the Maze series. His Machine dissecting another machine. Control. A maze. Controlling space. Separation. Fragments. Reductions. Neutral methodical style. The content is not neutral. This whole exhibition is of machines for control. Holding space. Camera & subject. His images of fortifications. Modern takes on romantic landscapes. The waters muddied. Knights are human. Good and evil. Now only greys? He witnesses these machines. They are fragile for all their strength. They will pass. A Russian map of Afghanistan sits in the afghan pictures. Reminder. Empires clinging. Passing. These sites used previously. the English before, the Russians others. High points. Northern Ireland. The war at home ? Points to hold. Military architecture. Systems. Images are large suggesting detail. Placing power in a landscape. Small against the fields and people that inhabit the large world outside the small compounds. Afghanistan and the Irish borderlands are similar. Colour palettes vary. Winter desert shots. Dust grey yellows vs the moors and bracken. Greens. Political situations effect the architecture. Permanence. The long haul. History. Commitment. Repeated forms. Form & function. How can we feel about such images? They are not beautiful. They do not tell us of a warrior nobility. Or heroes. Just the repetition of history. Was reminded of the Norfolk & Burke exhibition. Too close? Too familiar? Different too. It’s not to say I didn’t find these images interesting. What we have seen before changes what we see now. It informs and alters context.
The exhibition included a number of interviews with Wylie. Talking about how worked in these different environments. How he found ways into his subjects. Stumbling on new angles. Hearing him talking about his work is inspiring. Images that influenced him. Evans. Trying to see the titles on his shelves. All the classics. His love of images, the level of engagement. His two portfolios, one to the Belfast Telegraph and one to Magnum. He never heard from the Telegraph. Magnum got back to him. The passion and excitement.

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Filed under Dec 2011, Thoughts

Sune Jonsson at the PM Gallery

These images seem modern. Although reviewers talk about the documentation of a transformation in Swedish society they don’t seem to belong to the past. They are strong images that seem to inhabit the now. As much as those japanese photographs seemed to have another place in time. Is it quality of film or processing or the moment when images are taken? It seems at least to be part of my time. My own memory. Where I grew up the last of these figures lived on. Watching the rural change. The last of these people. People of few words. A different way of seeing, of approaching the world. Watching them grow old and die….slipping into the past? But here they seem to live. Not live on as memory but something else. In his pictures Sweden looks more modern than New York. Or timeless. Not set within a time. The posed but not posed. But I suppose we are not here to place these images within a timeline. Though this does relate to their strengths. I looked at Walker Evan’s images for clues. They seem more sepia. More outside looking in. More posed. Less affection. Sune’s native village. Local knowledge. It shows. The others vs me. Do the people seem more active here? Uncrushed by recession? Subjects: Poverty vs a community? Small holders vs share croppers. landscapes of drying hay, seeded and rolled earth. His other pictures are different. They don’t seem to have this connection. The images are less interesting. They fit within types. They have been seen before? His images of Prague don’t roar like Koudelka. Although the painter with brush running across a street has a certain jarring quality. The New York photos are too distant. Now he observes an other. I think its his closeness, his shared experience that are the power in these images. It allows him to get the best photographs. He has the right distance from the subject. He neither assaults or hides with the lens.

Does he miss any thing……..does he exclude from his vision. Who does he skip? Is country poor as obvious as city poor or USA poor?

The images were mostly medium size images, but around windows and doors images grew. Almost the height of doors. A pattern. They were not unwelcome. They didn’t impose but gave the viewer a chance to further engage with the subject. To look more closely. An invite. The patterns of rural intimacy and distance?

I liked that the gallery placed Sune’s work in context. That they extend the experience by including contemporary photographers. Adding complexity and opening up the subject and approaches.

Martin Bogren: takes a different approach. His images are distanced for the rural. They are by turns sentimental and fearful. They are distorted and blurred. They are fairy tales.  Modern fairy tales. With monsters and maidens and memories and warnings. (Sune Jonsson studies folklore at university in the 1950’s.) Perhaps in his dreams he includes other elements country life? The excluded. Sex. Fearful places. Decay. The forgotten. There is something I like about the strange exposures, the light leaks etc…..the randomness……though it needs to be handled in the right way or can feel contrived? Does this feel contrived? Sometimes?

Elin Berge: A huge clash with the b&w  of the swedish homelands. The inward looking? The world comes in. And the village goes out. Expansion. Thai women and their swedish husbands. Living in the north. The exhibition only included one image and a slide show. Which moved so slowly. Which was a pity and I was glad I found the book in the gallery attached to a huge white block. The book worked wonderfully and on so many levels. It weaved between closeness and distance and seemed to be a touch examination of the intimacy and dislocation of people. The sadness and joy. The acceptance and love and the isolation and need to be separate, all wrapped together. All these perspectives……….complex. After all the b&w the colours seemed a little clumsy, I mean it seemed like the exotic displayed in colour. This was only in contrast.

Elin Hoyland: Elin in some ways seems to portray the finish of the kind of people in the Sune exhibition. The transformation has happened and people live and on and finally die. These brothers seem to be the people in question. Their world is very small. The brothers relationship. They do not travel and days spent away are unhappy. Are they pushed too close together in these images? I like them in some ways but I fear there is a sense of reduction about the images. As if there life is somehow criticized? I don’t get much sense of them. Their fun? Their laughter? Their love of the birds? What we do get is the emptiness of the beds. Image of the brothers sat on their beds in their room. Then one brother. Then the empty beds. And I guess it all leads to this point. And then when you keep looking you see little bits of play and fun emerge through viewing. The poses. The serious faces. That this is something of a  set up. That these were also fun things (perhaps?). I heart coffee. Sat on the bed. Naked chests. Almost a smile. Soon a smile. The next frame?

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Filed under Dec 2011, Thoughts

Don McCullin

Tate Britain.

A smallish exhibition, a side room. Running through his career. B& W. Dark dark prints. The whites are white but the rest of the images seem to cover themCl…..whites only there not to have a black page?  Or is it just the subject. War and poverty? but even the landscapes are so. They are a good size, they don’t hide but neither are they wall coverings. None of the roman work but draws toward it. Flowing from violence (of many types) to the landscapes and rivers and the history invested in them. People ….close up and set amongst backgrounds. Coming across images. No rules of invention. Exploring life. Documentary photography. In some ways the lightest pictures seem to be of Berlin. The wall going up. But there seems to be light. More mid range tones. Almost sepia? Perhaps the Wall marked the change. Greys dropping away, growing darker. The white. Spitalfields portraits. Eye contact. Humanity. Larger than life? And then the same people on the streets. The faces shouting or laying on the floor. Huddling round a fire. The portraits show the human, the scenes suggest to us how we look at the homeless. That we rob them of the humanity. That we wish them invisible? Next: images of the industrial north. The cities and people of the mill and the mine. In an interview with Don McCullin seems to place these images closer to his landscapes than the portraits? That they are the effects of the industrial on the landscape, which they are but they contain figures. Perhaps more distant but they are there and thus they seem to fit for me more closely with the London images than the landscapes. The figures leave his images. Crowds in Berlin. Singles and groups in London, parents and children and singles in the industrial north and then they are gone. The people have left. A sense of quiet? recovery. Peace from all the war and tragedy. Less punchy. The don’t need that kind of impact, they have a different purpose. A different result. Winter lights. Clouds.

This aren’t the usual McCullin set of pictures. This is not him as war reporter (that’s at the Imperial War Museum) but he always seems to be at war……….


Interview video.

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Filed under Thoughts