Thursday, 17 February 2011

Unfortunate Events

I don't usually follow the World Press Photo Awards. Not sure why - somehow it doesn't fall on my radar. But now that I've started tweeting (follow me!) it's hard to avoid; I am, of course, following photography-minded people, and the great thing about Twitter is that you do seem to be the first to know.

So I couldn't avoid the hoo-ha on Twitter when the World Press Photo Awards was announced. And I had a look at all the entries. There really is some great photography in there, and to me, it's a reminder of what photography is fundamentally for; educating us on what is happening in strange and unfamiliar places. I am so much in the world of art photography that I sometimes forget the importance of the medium to inform us on what is happening around the world; which is exactly what the World Press Photo awards recognises and honours.

Obviously there are some very difficult, distressing images amoung the entries (my friend Russell has written a very interesting blog post on the winning entry by Jodi Bieber - you can read it here). But the series that caught my (art - trained) eye was the work by Michael Wolf. Not documenting one particular event in the World, indeed not using his own camera to document anything, instead it is sort of a document of the whole world, and serves as a reflection on our Big Brother-esque society. Wolf's project, A series of unfortunate events, is a collection of stills from Google Streetview. He has painstakingly searched this new technology to find scenes which are amusing, or strange... in a word, unfortuante. In one, we see an old woman lying on the kerb, while a man mends a bike behind her, seemingly oblivious to her plight. In others there is a woman caught having a pee behind a car, a car on fire, a bike crash, a man being arrested. All these things just happened to happen when the Google streetview camera passed - and consequently documented forever.

I am pleased to see Wolf's images honoured by World Press Photo - I'm sure it's very different to other entries they have ever had. And yet it is relevant; it's a document of society, not only of people going about their daily lives but also of the new (and sometimes controversial) technology of Streetview. It almost represents the all seeing eye, looking down on us from above and recording what we do. It is also reminiscent to me of the staged photography of Jeff Wall. A signal, perhaps, of how talented a photographer Wall is, as he succeeds to re-create scenes which could easily have happened by chance.

©Jeff Wall - Mimic

Wolf is not the only photographer who has had the patience and tenacity to search for unfortunate events... Jon Rafman has also done this. His website is well worth a look, as is an essay he wrote about the technology, which can be found here. (thanks to Contact Blog for bringing that to my attention!)

Michael Wolf's project will be exhibited at the Format Festival, which looks very exciting this year. There is one show I cannot wait to see... more about that in another post!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Look what I found!

I was wandering through Brixton Village yesterday, for the first time in ages. It really has come on in the last year since I was there with my studio. There are loads of really exciting cafes, restaurants and quirky little boutiques... well worth a trip.

In one of these boutiques, I was very excited to find a Kodak Brownie Cresta 3, complete with camera bag, instruction manual, and (most exciting of all for me) a luggage label with the previous owners name and address, and the Hotel to which she was going to... which just so happens to be a village in Switzerland called Les Marecotes, which I visited with my family in 1991. With that bit of Swiss-ness in there, I just had to buy it.

It seems that the mechanism works... I will pop a 120 film through it soon, and let you know the results!

(Oh, and I have searched Google for the previous owner. Her name is Georgina Rowe, which is a very common name. The camera dates from the second half of the 1960's, so I reckon she'd be in her 70's now... perhaps you know her or someone who knows her?)

Monday, 7 February 2011

Image of the week #5

At the end of last year, I was invited to give a portraiture workshop at a primary school in Southwark. We studied the use of portraiture in order to convey identity, and looked at a number of different portraits to see how they told a story. I then took photographs of the pupils, in their uniforms one week, and in their own clothes the next. Here is my favourite image of the series; I'm not sure I'm very happy with the light setup, and the depth of field could be shallower, but love his expression and his cute hat!

On Wednesday, the pictures will be in show at the school for parents to come and see...

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Image of the week #4

This is a bit of a cheat, because it's a pic I shot in the summer. But I'm continuing the Hipstamatic theme - just found out that the exhibition I mentioned in my previous post is now on until 11 Feb - so still time to see it! I'm excited...

Hipstamatics are also running a competition, to be the 158th print in their exhibition. Post your best Hipstamatic print on their Facebook wall, and the winner is the one with the most "likes".

This is my contribution. Oh it reminds me of the Summer! So sick of this cold...

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