Monday, 22 March 2010

Recycle Revolution

I've had a lot on my mind the last few weeks. You know how it goes; someone shows you an example of someone else's work, and you covet it, or find yourself pinned to being one thing when you want to be another; one moment you're saving up for expensive jewellery for someone, the next you're wondering how to spend your summer; one day you've a hundred plans coming to fruition, and the next they're in ruins; for all the joys of work, the pains of chasing those invoices; for all the pains of raising funds for exhibition, the next you're getting a good review in the newspapers and all the stress is forgotten. It is hard as a self-employed person to always be thinking three steps ahead, especially when what you do is something that necessarily requires total focus on what's happening right now. My modus operandi has always been - say yes to everything! You never know when there'll be another chance/you'll go blind/get found out/get bored. Recently though I've been wondering about the benefits of concentrating on one sort of photography. The truth is, I don't think I could change the way I operate unless I had something else to take my mind off life in all the spare time I'd have when not shooting. When a camera is all that lies between me and a dive from a fifth floor window in the middle of the night (well not quite but you know), shooting stop being a job and becomes an escape.

Anyway. Here's some shots from the Suede comeback show at the 100 club (that's Brett dancing away at the top of this post).

Before I got there I ran into my housemate, who'd just won the league with her hockey team. Go girls.

Saturday daytime I'd been down in Barnes, taking some pictures of a short movie being filmed. It was out of interest more than anything; the photos might prove useful to them, and I know the producer, I thought it'd be something interesting to try..

To sound less morbid; all of this thinking has led me to thoughts about how photography is, right now. The better you get at something, the more clearly you see your own failings and the brilliance of others. Within the fields of photography I operate in, there is a clear divide between photographers who publish raw, gritty, beautiful photographs which, with no meddling, depict the world almost as you could see it yourself, if you could catch things in that frame and instant with a blink of your eyes. In particular, Dan Wilton and David Richardson fall into this category - both excellent photographers, capable of showing you what's before your eyes with an honesty that will suck you in. I mention them only because I've met them; there are others, and if you wanted to go up to the top end you could point out similarities with Terry Richardson etc. and it's part of a wider creative movement towards a home-made look to things, I think.

On the other side of the great divide, you have me, and any other photographer who manipulates with light, software, processing etc. in a way to lend a certain fantasy of their own to their subjects. I never made a choice to be one or the other; my style of photography comes from my background of learning through assisting rather than studying; although I started out shooting with 1600 film and no flash, it didn't take much time of me being in a studio to realise that knowing light was the most important thing for any photographer. Of course, each photographer might say something different is the most important thing, but for me, telling pictures with light and shadow became a big part of what the art of it is. Now I find myself at a place where the other style is becoming prevalent; for many years, high-production high-gloss photography rules the pages of magazines, and in the last five or six years, it has swung the other way. It is not a good thing or a bad thing; neither style is better than the other, and I cannot change how I have learnt and nor do I really want to. It is a little frustrating to get less work than other folks on account of style, but really, if I chased the pack I'd be no good at what I do.







I am in the middle of a crisis of confidence; puppies help immensely. The difficulty is the difficulty of it all. I want to chase horses around the New Forest at night with a flash gun; I want giant softboxes hoisted up on cranes to shoot beauty portraits of trees. I want a hundred people in a studio, all performing for me, to make something of it greater than the sum of its parts. For me, these are the stories I want to tell, beyond what is just in front of me. That makes me pretentious, arrogant, ambitious..

Friday I was back at Cafe Oto for The Wire, shooting Carbon Cafe featuring The Gluts. Here they are, and some people speaking.

I like live stuff, and I want to have it all under control; my ultimate shoots involve performers in settings of my choices with perfect lights set up and an army of assistants. I'm doing it on the cheap; just the £5k of kit not £500k. The figures stagger me; to be as good as I want to be, I'd have to spend a lot of money, but the payback should be equal to it. I want to be able to shoot anything and everything. Here's A Rebours last thursday.

Not exactly live performance, but it's hard-shootin and I wasn't thinking straight; earlier in the day I'd been to see Syban;

Before Syban I had been in the scooter cafe with Dusty Limits, shooting his portrait for Le Cool.

Earlier in the week I'd shot some pictures of the Hennginham Family Press, another Le Cool interview you can read here:

Skipping back all the way to Friday, some pictures of Rollergirls for Shirley mag.

I'll try to post more regularly on here as these entries are getting a bit long. I hope you have a nice week and do interesting things.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

The Life Your Life Could Look Like

Above is a hand belonging to Mr. Josh Jones, who knows a lot about what he likes, AND art. I think. At Le Cool we had a group interview session, for world-renowned and controversially brilliant publication Le Cool, or rather the Le Cool London Blog. I took some pictures.

I took more than two pictures, but, it's people sitting around a table talking. I like the picture of Mat. Chloe or Mat took the picture of me. It was my camera though so I'm allowed to put it on here. Josh is in charge of covers; here's this weeks artist in front of his poster on the underground. He's called Tim Rasbash. He's very nice.

I have grown to enjoy shooting portraits more and more as time has gone by. I've spent a lot of this week thinking about the big important questions, like Why I Take Pictures and What Should I Do Next and Would Arsenal Winning The League Be Soured By Them Having Lost To Utd & Chelsea (answer: no! duh!). In the most part this is because of the first of my forthcoming exhibitions, for the Together charity (running for the next six weeks from the end of this week at their gallery on Old Street) I have had to do all sorts of things like writing artistic statements of intent and describing myself and my work. It's pretty tough. I find that every time I write anything about myself in that context, I think I come across as a pretentious fool, leading to the distinct possibility that I come across as a pretentious fool in everyday conversation but without the evidence and therefore 20/20 hindsight vision to notice for myself. Why do I take pictures? Because it means I don't have to get up at 7 in the morning every day. Because I get to go and hang out with interesting people and be seen as an equal. Because I feel like I'm always getting better at it. Because people say they like my pictures. All of that is true; it's also true that when I'm taking pictures, in the actual act of it, a nuclear bomb could go off across town and I wouldn't notice the mushroom cloud or boom for concentrating on getting what I'm already looking at just right. It's true that when I shoot, nothing else in the world matters, all my troubles disappear and I feel like I am the lord of all I survery. It's also true that I like to impress, that I feel like it makes me important.. all these reasons add up to - I take photographs because I'm a photographer. It's probably terminal. Here are my shots for Together.

I'm not overwhelmingly happy with them nor am I dissatisfied. I took them because they were there to take; I took them like that because I didn't think of any other way to take them. Sometimes portraiture has a stricter set of guidelines that are more open to technical interpretation; here's a portrait I shot for Tesco of their head of fresh produce, Colin Holmes.

Can you tell me which one is more creative? Which required more thought? It's always harder to shoot what's in someone else's head. I had a bit more scope with these interviews; here's this week's Le Cool interviewee, Patrick Baxter, who makes soundscapes for walking around London to.

And here's a lady called Tiffany who has a thing called Secret London which if you're in London and on Facebook you're probably a member of.

Elsewhen, there was a thing at Resistance Gallery with people doing stuff. I saw my friends Tammy and Shorn there. Here they are!

Shorn got talking to me about taking pictures of dance stuff; turns out he is a designer for that sort of thing. He got me along to a student production, where in return for taking some pictures, I would be given some money. Here's the shots, this bunch a B&W set although I sent them colour..

In the interval I was asked to go backstage to take some clearer shots for the designer who was paying me. I'm quite pleased with these shots.

I hope you like them. I don't know why I took them, or why I like them, or what's wrong or right about any of this. That's ok though. If I had answers to all the questions I get asked, I'd have nothing left to do.