Tuesday, 21 December 2010

My pick of exhibitions 2010

2010 has been a great year for photography shows. Some of them I have reviewed on here, but many of the great ones I have seen I haven't mentioned, most probably cos something else got in the way.

A highlight for me was the Camille Silvy exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. A studio portrait photographer in London in the mid nineteenth century, Silvy was renowned for taking exquisite portraits of the aristocracy for cartes de visites etc. The beautiful thing about the exhibition, though, was his early work of French landscapes, with detail as to how he printed them. Often using 3 negatives combined (each exposed for different areas of the scene) his printing techniques were key; a reminder of the craft of photography, which has disappeared in this digital age. The exhibition was full of information and rich in social history; Silvy was a prolific photographer and businessman, and I can't believe I had never heard of him. Sadly, he suffered from a bipolar disorder (which he believed was brought on by the darkroom chemicals) and the last thirty years of his life he spent in hospitals and convalesent homes.

Another inspiring show, also at the National Portrait Gallery, was Iriving Penn Portraits. A well known portraitist, what I found fascinating was his incredibly simple approach to studio work. In contrast to the fashion of studio photography at that time, which was all dramatic sets and backdrops, Penn would photograph his sitters in his empty studio, just how it was; complete with cigarette butts and litter on the floor. In one series, he places his sitter as if wedged in an acute corner, providing opportunities of performance and self-expression from the sitter. Due to the receding line of the walls, the eye is drawn to the subject; any gesture is exaggerated, and small gesture emphasised. A simple trick, to such great effect.

Duchess of Windsor, © Irving Penn

There have been other great shows... Sophie Calle at the Whitechapel Gallery, Neeta Madahar at Purdy Hicks, Stephen Gill at Brighton Biennale. One of my new year's resolutions is to write up all the shows I see, be it good or bad... if only for my sake of recording what I have seen!

Monday, 13 December 2010

Superhero Grandma

I have just come across this work, and I just had to share it...

These are photographs taken by Sacha Goldberger, of his 91 year old Hungarian grandmother. Noticing that she seemed lonely and a little depressed, he proposed that he take photographs of her in outrageous costumes and poses as a way of cheering her up. And so evolved the character of Super Mamika (Mamika means grandmother in Hungarian).

The photographs are technically brilliant, and succeed in creating a narrative around this humorous superhero. And apparently Grandma got so in character she just couldn't stop being photographed! It's so nice to see some fun photography...

Based in France, Sacha recently had an exhibition at Wanted Paris. His website can be seen here.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Little furry objects make me smile

Gosh it's been a long time since I last posted... November was a quiet month, and I put my mind to more personal matters (such as getting my bathroom re-done, which has the knock on effect that I can't continue shooting my current project because the room I use as a studio now looks more like an architectural rescue place. The whole project is now on hold til the New Year).

But I did have the honour of being a judge at the LCC MA Photography final exhibition. This is with my Photofusion hat on - each year Photofusion offers a prize to a graduate from the LCC MA course. I went to judge it this year with Director and fellow photographer Gina Glover; I must admit that work in MA shows tends to get a little repetitive, but there was one piece of work which was unlike any I had seen before.

Perhaps Finally Alone is a series of photographs of unidentifiable furry objects on plinths, set against wildly patterned backdrops. There is a playful exploration of textures, colours, and an uncertainty of what we are looking at. In some images, the furry object is very definately an animal; one can detect a tail, or some ears. In others, we realise we are looking at a human head of hair, or the plinth is a woman's shoulders. This play on what we are looking at challenges the viewer, and asks all sorts of questions about the nature of a photograph. It is a quirky, humourous series which made me smile... the photographer is Elisa Noguera, and the whole series can be seen on her website.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Salon '10 @ Four Corners

Just a quickie to mention that one of the pics from a new series I am working on is in the Salon '10 show at Four Corners Gallery in Bethnal Green. The exhibition includes work from members of the Photo Imaging Network, a professional development programme run by the gallery for emerging photographers. It goes on til 11 December.

The private view was last Thursday night, and was very well attended. I am getting very good feedback from this work so I am excited... more here soon!

Monday, 25 October 2010


Yesterday I was very excited to wake up to find that Photomovette was featured in the Independent on Sunday, in an article about Photobooths. Some of you may or may not know that, in my spare time, I run an old school, black & white photobooth, complete with chemicals. It's one of the only ones in the UK (I only know of 2 others) and it lives in a studio in Deptford. It is in full working order and has been used at events at the studio, but there is one technical hitch which is preventing us from getting it into a public space. All in good time...

A couple of weeks ago Siobhan (the other half of Photomovette) and I were approached by a journalist who was writing a piece for the Indy about the resurgance in these old machines. Cos oddly, there is a resurgance... although a lot of the time they are digital machines which have four exposures, as opposed to the boring ones in Boots which duplicate one image four times to fit to passport regulations. We were asked to be one of the case studies... I was interviewed by the lovely Kate Burt and Jean Goldsmith came to take our picture (which resulted in one of the funniest afternoons ever; I think there were 7 of us squashed inside the booth!) The article can be read here.

As soon as we get our little technical hitch sorted, we are going to be looking for a venue or public space to put it. So let me know if you know of anywhere which may be interested. In the meantime, keep up to date with when it is in use by joining our Facebook group, and following our blog. We also have a website, which can be found here.

Monday, 18 October 2010

LIP Annual Exhibition

This year, I was very honoured to be asked to join the curating team of the LIP Annual Exhibition. Organised by London Independent Photography, this year the show has moved to the much more prestigious Strand Gallery, which was once Proud Central, but still part of the Proud conglomerate.

A tricky space to work with, especially when the show comprises of 60 individual photographers, and lots of single images. But I was lucky enough to be curating with the very experienced Carol Hudson, and the two Carol(e)s (as we became known) became quite a team.

©Jason Yeomans

There is some very good work in the show. A few of my highlights are a Hans Bellmer doll-esque contorted nude by Jason Yeomans, elaborate fantastical sets made up by Graeme Webb, and an eerie triptich by William Head. In true LIP style, there is some outstanding street photography. Notably a series exploring darkness and light at Tate Modern (i will check the photographer's name when I go back - a momentary lapse in memory!), a single image documenting the World Cup by Jonathan Goldberg, and another series by someone whose name escapes me (argh!).

©Jon Goldberg

The Private View is tomorrow night, from 6pm, and the show continues until the 31 October. Do pop in if you get a chance and you're in the area. There is also a catalogue to accompany the show, which will be available through Blurb shortly.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

A Pregnant Pause

I haven't posted in a while... there's a lot going on and I'll have a lot of news very shortly!

Meanwhile, here are some pictures of my very good friend Tori, glowing in her pregnancy. They were taken on a beautiful summer's evening in August, in Yorkshire.


Saturday, 2 October 2010

A world of fairytales

Troika Editions is an online print sales gallery. They have a great selection of photographers, whose work they sell at very reasonable prices. And they have recently opened up a small gallery in Clerkenwell; their next exhibition begins this week, featuring three winners of the Troika Editions/FORMAT Exposure award: Kurt Tong, Katrin Koenning and Schinster.

Each month, they invite a "distinguished expert" to choose one of their artists and a write about them. Diane Smyth from the BJP, Jon Levy from Foto8, Debra Klomp Ching from the Klompching gallery in New York have all contributed. So I felt incredibly honoured to be asked to write something for their October slot, which you can read here.

I chose to write about Jan Dunning, who constructs her images by building sets, which she then photographs using a pinhole camera. I was immediately seduced by the soft aesthetic of her images, and the sense of narrative they portray. Looking at them evokes fairytales, nightmares, and unnatural forces... it's all really good stuff. Check out her website and hear her talk about the process of making the images on the Troika website.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Switzerland vs the World

As you may or may not know, I am half Swiss. Half Swiss and half Welsh: Swelsh. (If there are any other Swelshies out there let me know; I suspect we are a rare breed.)

And for a while now I have been collecting things to do with Switzerland. Not tourist stuff, like mugs and T-Shirts, but things I see which either take the mick or honour the small country. For example, in Germany a few years ago I came across a magazine (in German) with the following cover;

In my very limited German, I got the gist that this was saying that the Swiss were boring, that they couldn't speak German, that they were crap at Football… It turned out the whole issue was dedicated to the Swiss. A German magazine dedicated to a tiny, non-European country; I found this fascinating! For some reason people are intrigued by the Swiss; maybe because they are a very private nation with some very dark secrets, a nation where four cultures are united but in constant dispute over whether to become part of Europe. But what is often forgotten is that Switzerland has also produced marvellous things; chocolate, cheese, Jean-Luc Goddard, Roger Federer, and Alberto Giacometti, to name but a few.

So when I was in Arles this year, my eye was caught by a book called Switzerland vs the World. Published by Riverboom, the book “tells the story of the unique visual match between Switzerland and the rest of the world”. It is essentially asking "What is typically Swiss? What is the same, and what is different, in Afghanistan, China and the United States?" The answer is given in a series of photographic typologies of certain categories, (fur coats vs burkhas, alpine beards vs Hindu-Kush beards, chariots vs lawn-mowers). With each typology appears a small text, discussing the category in each country, and deciding which country “wins”. It is a chance for Switzerland to strike back, to reclaim its place in the world. The result is light hearted and humorous, and an entertaining read for anyone, not just the Swiss!

These small thumbnails don't really do it justice, but you get the idea. Sadly, it isn’t distributed in the UK just yet. You can order it online though, from Riverboom. And you can read more about it and see some of the double page spreads here.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

To blog, or not to blog?

Today I was pleasantly surprised to meet someone who reads this blog. Surprised because he is someone who is not a loyal friend, nor a member of my family checking up on me, but another photographer who I come into contact with occasionally through work or other photography related things. And surprised too because lately I’ve been wondering whether anyone reads this. I get the impression when I write on here that I am writing to a brick wall. It’s more like writing for myself, really; I enjoy writing, and sharing my thoughts about photography. And of course I’d like people to read it but I have no followers so no indication of who does stop by.

Equally, I don’t follow many blogs. In fact, I don’t follow any religiously; I have some bookmarked which I look at occasionally, when I remember. And there are so many out there that it’s hard not to wonder what it’s all for; why we invest so much time doing this. But many photographers do, and it’s a wonderful insight into their world, and a great way for them to show off new work and what they are up to. So I thought I would take this opportunity to share with you a few of my favourite blogging photographers:

If at First, by Ben Roberts

Ben talks about his experiences as a photographer, where he’s been and what he shoots. He also offers tips to assistants, shares the lessons he’s learnt and has the occasional rant. The content basically includes anything photography related that he is interested in, and to encourage followers he offers a free jpg of one of his images which can be printed at 8x10, downloadable in the first 3 days after posting. His enthusiasm and love of photography is apparent, and his blog has helped his career no end; indeed, it was featured in an article in the BJP recently about the benefits of social media. (Which is well worth a read if you are into this subject. It is a thorough study on the benefits of all social media, including facebook and twitter etc, and can be found here)

Emma Case Photography

Emma Case is one of my favourite wedding photographers. She has taken much of her inspiration from American and Australian style of shooting, creating photographs with a retro feel to them (and you should all know by now – if you are out there?! – that I love all that stuff). She updates her blog regularly with recent weddings or engagements pics she has shot, along with her impression of the day and of the couple. And her impressions are always so positive, so joyous, that you can almost feel the emotion of the occasion. And this is the reason for her success… she obviously cares for the couples she works with, and she obviously loves her job. She comes across as happy and approachable, which probably sells her product as much as the quality of her images.

Tong Blog

Rather confusing, this address, as it's very similiar to the famous Alec Soth blog (which should be featured on here too… but I figure enough of cyperspace is dedicated to him already). Kurt is a great photographer who can also write well; unfortunately he doesn’t write enough! He talks about his own work as well as reflecting on the place of photography in society and his experiences in Hong Kong. All interesting stuff… more please Kurt!

There are loads of other great blogging photographers, which have either slipped my mind right now or which I have yet to find. And there are certainly loads of good blogs and webzines about photography by curators, picture editors, etc (some of my faves are listed on the right). Blogs written by photographers serve to add a little personality to a name and a portfolio, which is no bad thing, as well as giving them much needed exposure on the web.

As to whether people read them, though, who knows?

If you do, give me a nod. There’s more I want to say… and it’s nice to know you’re there!

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Little London Observationist

My work was featured on Little London Observationist last Sunday. Run by Stephanie Sadler, her blog does exactly what it says on the tin; provides snippets of observations in and around London. Each Sunday, she features an artist who lives and works in this mighty capital city; and last week I was the chosen one.

The images are really pixelated, for some reason, but I was very happy to be asked and honoured to be part of what is becoming a great archive of London-based artists... thanks Stephanie!

Wednesday, 1 September 2010


I found those negs! Of what I thought was going to be the last day of Summer, in Hyde Park...

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Lost not found

This blog post was gonna be featuring some dreamy pics I took in the park the other day, on my newly repaired Mamiya 6. Photos of my friends dog, sunshine through the trees, the new Pavilion at the Serpentine... the negs looked great. But then I left them on my desk at work; never to be seen again.

So instead, here are some dreamy pics from my holiday. Also taken with something which has recently disappeared from my possession; my iphone. I miss the iphone. But mainly I miss the Hipstamatic app. As a big fan of all things polaroid and olde, I believe this is the nearest digital technology has come to recreating the same feel. And it's so nicely designed...I especially love the colours and curvey corners...

Monday, 2 August 2010

Brixton People @ Brixton Splash

Yesterday I was invited to set up my pop-up studio at the Brixton Splash, a festival celebrating the cultural diversity of the area. And so I did... slightly different to Brixton People, as I was outside, so I adjusted my lighting and crop accordingly. But the people of Brixton still love to be photographed, and boy do they have style!
More to come... and many thanks to my beautiful assistants Hydar and Maja...
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