Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Hipstamatics only getting Hipper...

A few months ago, I wrote a post mourning the loss of my iphone, and with it the fabulous Hipstamatic app.

It seems I am not the only one to have fallen in love with this digital way of creating retro looking pictures. Now there is an exhibition devoted to the Hipstamatic photograph, at Orange Dot Gallery in Bloomsbury. I'm hoping to get a chance to see it... it's on til 31st January...

In the meantime, I was excited to discover a blog dedicated to the app, with a link to the website of the man who created it. It describes it's history - it really did exist as a camera and there is a sad story which goes with it. The Guardian thinks this story is dubious, but I wanna believe it... a sucker for marketing, me.

Last Chance to see...

Friday sees the last day of AMPS/10, the Annual Members Show at Photofusion in Brixton. I'm sad to see it come down... over the last few months I have nurtured and created this, from selecting the work and working with the photographers to produce the work, to curating and hanging the work. It has been a very successful exhibition, and I'm really pleased to have been working closely with Miranda Gavin from Hotshoe. She judged the inaugural Hotshoe/Photofusion award (which went to Odette England for her project As Above, So Below) and she ran an event with our members about furthering their career in this world of photography.

Throughout the exhibition we have encouraged the public to vote for their favourite photographer; and last night I announced the winner: Vikram Kushwah. I am not surprised he captured the public's imagination... his images are reminiscent of fairytales and the world of Alice in Wonderland, and successfully combine the genres of fashion and fine art photography. Definately one to watch...

Monday, 24 January 2011

Image of the week #3

A year ago today I began a long but fun week of photographing the people of Brixton. In five days, I photographed 200 people, 70 of which I am putting into a book. Unfortunately the book isn't ready for the first anniversary, so instead here is one of my fave portraits from that week...

The complete gallery of images can be seen here. And follow this blog to find out when the book is published!

Friday, 21 January 2011

Having a LAF

Terrible title... couldn't resist though...

Last night I went to visit the London Art Fair. Based in the Business Design Centre in Islington, it is a chance for contemporary art galleries to show off their wares, many of which I found uninspiring. I found the people more interesting than the art; gallerists are a strange breed, and many of the punters were those sort who have too much money to know what to with, and think they are cool by investing it in art.

And I couldn't help noticing a curious lack of photography features in this type of gallery. Is the art vs photography question still burning? Do photographs have a place in a fine art gallery? I don't know the answers to these questions, but I can speculate... I think that, due to the ubiquity of photography in our day to day lives, people are so familiar with the medium that they find it difficult to place a value on it. Add to this the fact that we are not sure how the new digital papers are going to stand the test of time, and the fact that photographs can be reproduced over and over, thus giving the photographer the possibility to re-print and make more money at any time, de-valuing the work in question, and we have many reasons why collectors are dubious. It seems that it is only the Gurskys and the Shermans of this world who will ever sell. And yet photographers are asking more and more for their work.

©Aliki Braine

But there is a kind of counter attack occuring in the shape of online print sales, which was outlined by Miranda Gavin in the current edition of BJP. It seems that, over the last few years, it is online galleries which are selling photographs, and at really reasonable prices. Troika Editions (who represent Aliki Braine, above) and Contact Editions in the UK for example. And it was nice to see Troika present at the fair, making their mark amongst the over-priced, almost corporate world of contemporary art.

In addition to all this commercialism was an excellent curated exhibition called Photo50. It brought together many famous photographers, including the wonderful Helen Chadwick. The highlight for me, however was a photographer who I had never heard of before...Scarlett Hooft Graafland. Her images are humorous, surreal and beautiful...

"A very jolly show" as my friend Leila put it... and she was right. It's not often that's the case these days...

Monday, 17 January 2011

Image of the week #2

Yesterday I started shooting for my Retro Girls project again... and had the pleasure of Lena Weber from The Vintage Guide to London in front of my lens...

Monday, 10 January 2011

Image of the week #1

Another new year's resolution - to post an image a week on here, each Monday. A good exercise for me! 
Taken in Lausanne, 31.10.10, on a Mamiya 6

Thursday, 6 January 2011

A New Year, a New(ish) Blog...

Happy New Year all! I do wish all my readers all the best for 2011.

Here, I will strive to be still more and more active with regular posts on my thoughts on photography. In order to give me a structure of some sort, each month I will give myself a theme to write to... let's see how long I can keep that up!

For the month of January, I would like to start with the theme of pop-up studios. Partly because the end of the month sees the first anniversary of my own pop-up in Brixton Market, but also because I spent the last day of 2010 in an exhibition of Irving Penn's street portraits - a sort of pop-up studio in itself. I was in Lausanne, at the wonderful Musee de l'Elysee; the first time I've ever been, can you believe it! A Swiss-ess with a mother born and bred in the city and I only get to visit this famous photography institution at the ripe old age of 31...

It really is a wonderful gallery. Set in a beautiful old mansion on the banks of Lac Leman, it has four floors of exhibition space, a well-stocked bookshop, and has the most comprehensive photographic archive in Switzerland.

And the exhibition, too, was wonderful. In 1950 and 1951, Irving Penn photographed people with "small trades"; firemen and shoe-shiners for example, who often worked the streets. He would invite them into his studio to be photographed, with a prop which marked their trade. The work started as a personal project on the streets of London, but soon it was published by Vogue and he did the same thing in Paris and New York. What was most interesting for me about the exhibition was seeing the same trade depicted in each city; the differences in uniform, in prop, in attitude. And with that, Penn's own observations about the different nationalities:

"En général, les Parisiens doubtaient que nous ferions exactement ce que nous leur avions dit. Ils pensaient que quelque chose de louche allait arriver, mais ils arrivaient au studio plus au moins comme convenu - motivés par le cachet. Les Londoniens étaient différents des Français: etre photographié en tenue de travail était pour eux la chose la plus logique au monde. Ils arrivaient au studio toujours a l'heure et se présentaient devant l'appareil photo avec un sérieux et une fierté qui étaient particulierement touchants. Des trois, les Americains étaient le groupe le plus imprévisible. En dépit de nos recommandations, quelques un arriverent aux séances changés de pied en cap, rasés et parfois meme dans leurs costumes sombres du dimanche, convaincus de faire lur premier pas vers Hollywood"

"In general, Parisians wondered whether we were going to do exactly what we sad we were going to do. They thought that something dodgy was going to happen, but they arrived at the studio more or less as requried - morivated by the prestige. Londoners were different to the French; to be photographed in their work clothes was, for them, the most natural thing in the world. They arrived at the studio on time and presented themselves in front of the camera with a seriousness and pride which was particularly touching. Of the three, the Americans were the most unpredictable. In spite of our recommendations, some arrived to the sessions completely changed from head to toe, shaven and even sometimes in their sombre Sunday best, convinced that this was their first step towards Hollywood." (text quoted from the panel in the exhibition; my translation)


The exhibition also included some vintage copies of Vogue, showing the work as it was published in the three countries, and Penn's first monograph, Moments Preserved, published in 1960.

So all in all a great way to end 2010 - and funny that it was just after I had mentioned that the Penn exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery was one of my favourites of the year. A great inspiration and a great way to begin my theme on pop-ups... more to come!
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