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...
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