Wednesday, October 17

LIP Annual Exhibition

Quick announcement and general reminder to self:

London Independent Photography Annual Exhibition
14th to 27th October 2007
Venue: Cotton’s Atrium on the riverside close to London Bridge (Tooley Street, London, SE1 2QE)

A wide range of photographers and styles -- 114 pics, about 50 photographers -- as can be seen in this link:

sample photos

Some familiar names there -- David Solomons, Chris Moxey, Gary Alexander and Tiffany Jones.

Sunday, October 7

David Allan Harvey

Magnum good egg David Allan Harvey is offering a $5000 grant to support one photographer's personal work:


The closing date is 15 November 2007.

Friday, October 5

Nice balloon picture (Jupitus 1, Hoon 0)

Spent a few hours in Bournemouth the other day on the last day of the Labour party conference.

According to the Dorset Echo, "£5.3 million Operation Pegasus ... involved more than 400 officers, 140 police staff and more than 150 civilian security staff."

I don't know if the Labour Party head honchos had got Bournemouth mixed up with Brighton in the summer, but that's a *lot* of security for a smallish seaside town in Autumn. As I wandered around the seafront, the police seemed to outnumber members of the public two to one. A dozen police loitered around the entrance of the near-deserted pier, desperately looking for something to do.

Walking around with a largish camera I felt liable to stopped and questioned at any moment. Possibly my paranoia had been fuelled by reading this report in the Bournemouth local paper

Bournemouth Echo

where two disabled men drinking outside a pub overlooking a hotel where delegates were staying were apparently searched, questioned and had their homes searched for variously "looking at a police officer" and "opening an electricity bill" in a public place.

In the end, rather than risking any people photography – which, let's face it, is a lot more of your typical evildoer activity than opening an electricity bill – I took a few photos of a balloon on the pier.

On a related note, on the way to the town centre from the train station I pass a curry house that has a display of photos of the famous(-ish) people that have eaten there. It always makes me smile that they can put a name to comedic DJ Phil Jupitus but they can't conjure up Geoff Hoon's name. The best they can do is "House of Common (sic) MP". Clearly, slippery Geoff didn't make a big impression.

Sunday, September 23

The city as metaphor for the creative process – the importance of getting lost

Talking of getting lost, a while ago, I keyed in some text from an interesting interview with Tom Waits that I’d torn out of an old issue of Uncut magazine:

When they originally met, Brennan [Kathleen Brennan – later to become Tom’s wife] was a script editor at Zoetrope studios. Tom was penning what became the Oscar nominated score for Coppola’s One From the Heart. The album required him to write in a style that he was trying to leave behind, and it was Brennan who helped him find the confidence, security and self-respect to follow his esoteric leanings and make the leap towards 1983’s Swordfishtrombones. Their working relationship developed gradually.

“The love came first”, nods Waits, “but we used to play a game called Let’s Go Get Lost. We’d drive into a town and I would say, “But, baby – I know this place like the back of my hand, I can’t get lost.” And she’d say, “Oh hell, you can’t, turn here, now turn there. Now go back, now turn left, now go right again.” And we’d do that all night, until we got lost...

(Source: Gavin Martin, Uncut, June 2002)

Underneath the bluster, Waits seems like a shy, private man, and a spinner of great yarns, so who knows if the story is literally true?

As a frequent visitor to London, I’ve wondered why it is that I always seem to end up in the same spots, despite the hundreds and thousands of possibilities in the centre. For example, despite my current entry point being Waterloo Station, I’ve never encountered nearby Elephant and Castle on my apparently random wanderings and attempts to “get lost”.

Why is this? I guess that given a specific starting point there are only so many initial choices. And when coming to a crossroads or fork, even unconsciously, it’s natural to choose the most “promising” and interesting looking road. A strategy that leads to a similar set of outcomes. In other words, to really explore it must be necessary to deliberately choose some unpromising initial options in order to arrive at new destinations.

I’d love to see a GPS type map plot of my London wanderings, but then I’m a bit a map obsessive.

Wednesday, September 12

Small World

I was surprised to see a medium-size pile of Martin Parr's "Small World" book in Borders in Bournemouth today. Assuming it to be some sort of clerical error or random stockroom discovery, I grabbed a copy and learnt that it has just been republished.

I guess that Mr Parr's appearance on the forthcoming Channel 4 photography reality TV competition "Picture This" (where he will doubtless play the Bad Cop) means that publishers are anticipating a surge of interest.

Sunday, September 9

Northern Ireland part I: off the page in Belfast

I recently returned from a short trip to Northern Ireland to see my exhibition at the Clotworthy in Antrim. The exhibition looked good and everything went swimmingly. Well, apart from that fact that I developed a hideous sore throat and cold on the day I travelled out, and generally felt 100% ropey.

I then spent an interesting 24 hours in Belfast, made more interesting by the fact that I set a world record for getting lost. It's so long since I've been anywhere new that I forgot one of my own golden rules for travel; namely acquire a *good* map of the city before travelling.

I had a Rough Guide to Ireland, which had a map of Belfast city centre and a map of the University district. Which was fine until I came to the edge of one map, and the edge of another. Unfortunately there seemed to be zero overlap, so I spent a disproportionate amount of time lost in limbo between those pages. Mainly in the vicinity of the BBC building.

Thank you to the kind soul from a film crew who advised me that I was about to head into a red-light road and pointed me in the correct direction. It transpired that he was filming a piece about inner-city violence, which made me chuckle.

Tuesday, August 28

Learning with Winogrand

O.C. Garza, a former pupil of Garry Winogrand, has just written about his classroom experiences.

The PDF is here:


Link via Michael David Murphy's While Seated blog

Monday, August 27

That's Entertainment

It's interesting to see what happens when different photographers bump into the same backgrounds...

Chris Moxey

Paul Russell


Sunday, August 12

Endless summer sale (must end 1 September)

I'm just sorting out eight summer-tinged (15 × 10 inch) photos for a soar-away summer print sale.

The prints will only be available at unfeasibly reasonable prices for 2 weeks, so please email me if you're interested.

In the meantime, just in case you haven't come across them before, feel free to peruse Maciej Dakowicz's amazing Cardiff nightlife photos:


EDIT: thanks to the couple of people who took me up on the offer!

Sunday, August 5

A seaside show in Antrim

I finally got round to sorting out the pictures for another show of my seaside pictures, this time in Antrim, Northern Ireland, which runs from

4 September to 28 September
Clotworthy Arts Centre, Antrim

The gallery has been very helpful and generous.

Of course, despite my best intentions and a carefully prepared schedule, finding the time to prepare and upsize the files to be printed by at 15 by 10 inches by my local lab eventually was squeezed to a slightly last-minute affair. Not helped by the fact that my antique computer seems to be on its last legs, and huge chunks of hard drive disappear for no apparent reason, seemingly just when I need to do some urgent work.

In the end I was very pleased with the final 36 prints, which takes some the best pictures from the Slough and Bracknell shows but gives a run out to some (mainly) newer shots.

The Nikon D70 files go to 15 by 10 inches pretty easily, at least to my eye looking at the final prints, so the time I spent agonising over whether to apply 65% or 70% unsharp mask for such and such a shot is 100% invisible to the naked eye.

Thursday, July 19

The Road to Kafka’s Pier

A while back I thought I’d “do the right thing” about photographing on private property – in this case a pier. As I’d spent many hours on this pier, it struck me that they may have a policy about usage of photos in publications.

I’ve seen numerous published photos taken on Brighton Pier*, for example, so presumably there’s no problem there. On the other hand, as you enter Southsea Pier near Portsmouth, there’s a badly written notice warning you about commercial use of pictures taken on the pier.

Here’s (roughly) happened in the beach front office, staffed by about six people. The full Kafka-esque dialogue was probably four times as long...

M: Hello. I’m doing a project on seaside towns and I was wondering, in the unlikely event that the photos ever get published in a magazine or book, if there’s any problem with using pictures taken on the pier, as it’s private property.

T: When are you going to be doing the photography?

M: Well, it’s nothing that formal really. I’ve spent some time on the pier over the last few months taking photos. I just wondered if there are any restrictions about using photos in magazines and stuff like that.

T: Because if you’re going to be doing it now, we can ring across to the pier and tell them that you’re coming, and get permission.

M: Erm. Well, I just have this small camera. Permission? There’s dozens of people taking pictures on the pier. I don’t need permission do I? I just want to know if I can use any photographs I take in publications as the pier is private property.

[various conferring about who to phone, long phone conversation]

T: OK, don’t take pictures of people without their permission, especially children. Be very careful about that.

M: [sidestepping] Well I do a lot of photography and I don’t intend to break any laws, but I’m trying to find out if there are any laws that are specific to the pier, as it’s private property.

[various conferring about who to phone, long phone conversation]

T: OK, we give you permission. Go and do it! Do you want us to phone the pier?

M: Erm, is there any problem with me using photos in publications?

T: [very uncertain voice] No.

So really, I’m none the wiser...

*Formerly Palace Pier – presumably renamed just in case you forget what city you’re in.

Monday, July 9

Note to self: some places/events to photograph this summer

Cowes Week
4 to 11 August - sample one or two days dependent on good weather
Cowes Week

The Melplash Show
Thurday 23 August - the show is going ahead, despite the foot and mouth restrictions resulting in the absence of sheep and cattle. I'll have to focus on the horse action this year. Hoping for good weather.
Melplash Show
Last year

Corfe Castle and village

Swanage Carnival
28 July to 4 August
On a dry Saturday.

Lyme Regis
21 to 29 July - Lifeboat Week
4 to 12 August - Regatta and Carnival week
(Also 29 September to 7 October Arts Fest - open studios, workshops and events.)
Although any time is a good time to visit Lyme Regis

Also, I must get over to visit Bognor, Littlehampton and Brighton before the "season" is over...

Thursday, June 7

How we are now?

There's a major photography exhibition currently showing at Tate Britain (that's Tate Britain at Millbank, not Tate Modern)

How We Are: Photographing Britain
Curated by Val Williams and Susan Bright
22 May 2007 to 2 September 2007

Tate Britain is open daily, 10.00-17.50
Exhibitions 10.00-17.40 (last admission 17.00)
Ticket prices: Adult £7.50; Student, over 60, unwaged, child 12-18 and disabled £6.

"As well as famous names - William Henry Fox Talbot, Lewis Carroll, Julia Margaret Cameron, Bill Brandt, Madame Yevonde, Susan Lipper, David Bailey and Tom Hunter among them - the exhibition includes postcards, family albums, medical photographs, propaganda and social documents. It includes work by many women photographers and photographers from different cultural backgrounds who are usually underplayed in the history of British photography."

By coincidence (see post below), one of Roger Mayne's Southam Street photos features in the publicity for the show.

Interestingly, the show features four large screens that are displaying slideshows from this Flickr group:

which is open to all.

Monday, May 7


Something that happens about once a week:

An email arrives
“Hi, I’m Steve from XYX publishing, and we’d love to include your photo (attached) in the forthcoming book Fractures, Cracks and Tensile Strength of Concrete. The print run is 50 000. Please let me know if you can let us use the photo. Unfortunately there is only a tiny budget for the book”.

Hmm, right, I’ll just Google the company – turnover 200 million last year – should have a few quid. Let’s see what the NUJ suggested rates are. Now see what the big photo agencies would charge. Right, I’ll quote them a price much much less than that. Say 20% of what a big agency would charge.

“Hi Steve – I can licence the picture for one-off use in this book for £60. Hope that is OK.”

Deafening silence. End of correspondence.

I’m sure in the end they found a photographer who was so excited by the prospect of appearing on page 234 of Fractures, Cracks and Tensile Strength of Concrete that they just wet themselves and gave the image for nothing. But wouldn’t it be cheaper to have a decent budget for photos rather than wasting time trawling through the Internet looking for some poor sap who will give away a picture? Or do companies now employ minimum wage Flickr-trawling monkeys especially for this purpose?

I recently had an email from a university who were producing a book. Their budget for images transpired to be £0. How does that happen – pay thousands to get the book printed. Photos – erm, just get ‘em of the Internet.

Come on – print costs are massive, paying a few hundred quid for photos won’t hurt. If someone is quoting a price for a high-quality image that is a fraction of what Corbis would charge, it’s a bargain.

And many of these painful exchanges often end up being detailed on Internet bulletin boards, so it just ends up making the company look cheap and tacky. Naming no names, of course.

Friday, April 20

Roger Mayne exhibition - a street photographer's family album...

Grandpa’s eye – exhibition at Lyme Regis

Noted British street photographer, Roger Mayne, has an exhibition of photographs of his grandchildren and family, landscapes, and urban details at the Town Mill gallery in Lyme Regis until 29th April 2007.

Roger is best known for his pictures of 50s London, in particular the children's street culture of Southam Street in Notting Dale (now Notting Hill). The Southam Street collection is held by the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Mayne's Southam Street work reached a new audience in the 1990s when singer Morrissey used several of the photos for concert backdrops and record sleeves.

Tuesdays to Sundays, 11 am –4 pm, last day: Sunday 29th April 2007.

Thursday, April 12

Simon Roberts' Motherland at Photofusion

Trent Parke's excellent show at Photofusion in Brixton is now over, replaced by "Motherland", Simon Roberts' "bold visual statement about contemporary Russia".

Details: The exhibition runs from now until Friday 25 May 2007.
Gallery opening times are Tuesday to Saturday, 10 am to 6 pm. The gallery is very close to Brixton Tube Station.


Looking forward to seeing the show. A few of the portraits seem to be of the generic, blank, bored variety that is currently in fashion, but overall the series looks very interesting.

Simon's website currently contains an abbreviated version of the book for your perusal:

Sample images

Kate Moss in pork scratchings shock


"Kate Moss has been seen snacking on pork scratchings

The waif-like supermodel was enjoying an evening with a group of girlfriends in a Devon pub where she munched on nuts and the calorific bar snack - which is fried pig skin covered in salt.

Kate's latest pork indulgence comes just weeks after she was seen munching on the same fatty food in another pub with lover Pete Doherty. Ten Tors barmaid Lisa Discombe told Britain's Daily Express newspaper: "Kate seemed very friendly. She came in with four other women and ordered just one drink – vodka - and some nuts and pork scratchings."

If you have any more Kate Moss pork scratching sightings, please let me know.

Afterthought: a quick Google of "kate moss" "pork scratchings" brings up page after page of web sites publishing this news story. Clearly it is even more important than I at first imagined.

Sunday, February 25

Trent Parke in Brixton

Managed to make it up to Brixton for the private view of Magnum photographer Trent Parke's show, Dream/Life and Beyond. Details:

Dream/Life and Beyond
9 February to 5 April 2007

Black and white, deep shadows, reflections and the occasional (apparent) multiple exposure.

Saturday, January 13


Banky's graffiti used to stick around for a while until being painted over or buffed. But now that Banksy's prints and artwork sells for vast amounts, it seems that his graffiti is being lifted from the street for "private collections" or, more likely, to be sold on eBay.

Unfortunately, the many websites and books dedicated to his work can serve as handy guidebooks for these art-snatchers.


Art of the State blog

"It would now seem that there is a market for original Banksy street art and I guess that these people are using the Banksy location maps and pictures at times published by this site and others to work out what can be lifted from the streets. It's a no-win situation. Graffiti is meant to be seen and the maps etc. help in this respect but are they now making things too easy for the scalpers? By its very nature graffiti is expected to be buffed, destroyed or gone over but soon there won't be too much to look at if this trend continues."

Friday, January 12

Soviet bus stops

Christopher Herwig's photos of Soviet bus stops:

Soviet Bus Stops

Link via Orang Utan [real name?] on the Urban75 bulletin boards.

Very Important Person

Mark Alor Powell's book, VIP, is now available, and looks eye-wateringly good. I have a very strong feeling that this will prove to be a work of great density and importance.

Details here:

I'm just waiting for the European site to be set up so I can buy a couple...

Monday, January 8

Big in Berkshire

Some dates for the diary. After my solo show in sunny Slough, the Beside the Sea exhibition is moving on to the fragrant town of Bracknell. It will (hopefully) feature 35 big prints taken along the English south coast.

South Hill Park exhibition

The South Hill Park arts centre is set in a stately home, and I'm told is the biggest arts centre in Europe. Several other exhibitions will start and finish at the same time.

Dates: Saturday 3rd February to Sunday 18 March
Opening times: Mon-Sat 9am-11pm
Sundays and Bank Holidays 11am - 10.30pm

The show was instigated by the beautiful people at Gallery 435, who curated, organised and financed the original "Beside the Sea" show.

Saturday, January 6

Up and coming? David Solomons

People can be sniffy about Flickr, and certain aspects of the presentation can be annoying, but it is a great place to bump into good photographers. And occasionally extraordinary talents, that make you wonder about the correlation between ability and success. ("Success" being a relative term in the rather obscure practice of street photography, I suppose.)

Anyway, being very late to the Flickr party, my most pleasing "discovery" so far has been David Solomons. A graduate of the well known Documentary Photography course in Newport, Wales, David has been shooting since the early 1990s.

His web site at

contains a tightly edited portfolio, but the steady stream of old and new photos trickling onto Flickr at

show him to have a very large body of good work.

It's a mystery to me why he isn't more well known; I'm sure that will change soon.

Monday, January 1

Bath before Christmas

No that's not an instruction.

For the past few years I've made a point of visiting the Georgian city of Bath just before Christmas. The gaudy lights and plastic Santas that seem to signify Christmas in most town centres don't really cut the mustard for me. No - I was searching for the mythical notion of a traditional Christmas experience. Carol singers and, erm, other stuff.

Some photo taking, present buying and general aimless wandering were on the agenda. The present buying was fairly painless - some jewellery from the excellent Silver Shop and the indoor market.

The obvious photographic subject would have been rushing Christmas shoppers, hence that didn't seem appealing. Instead, I set myself the task of taking an interesting picture featuring the famous Royal Crescent:


The Jimmy Stewart moment came early in the day, when I passed a little girl who was telling a Santa what she wanted for Christmas: "A dog ..., well a puppy". The excitement on her face was priceless. If that was in a Hugh Grant film, I would have puked, but in real life it was so touching. And there were some great carol singers (one of whom I recognised from a photo taken a few years ago).

Shopping and photography over, I concentrated on aimless wandering until 9 pm (and have the blisters to prove it). The wide streets and "tasteful" Christmas lights looked great after sundown.