Oxford School of Photography

insights into photography

GREGORY CREWDSON: CATHEDRAL OF THE PINES

I find I can rely upon the culture section of The Guardian for many interesting articles about photography. If you have been on my courses you will have found that I talk about Gregory Crewdson, his images are cinematic in many aspects, both the nature of their creation and the sense they provoke. He has a new exhibition called Cathedral of The Pines and it is reviewed in the The Guardian

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‘They were more difficult because they were less spectacular’ … Father and Son, 2013. Photograph: © Gregory Crewdson / Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

In 2013, in retreat from “a difficult divorce”, Gregory Crewdson moved from Manhattan to a converted church in rural Massachusetts. “I had to relocate myself, physically and psychologically,” says the photographer. So he spent his time mountain trekking, long-distance swimming and, when the winter set in, cross-country skiing.

“I was out in the snow one day when I came upon a sign for a section of the Appalachian Trail called Cathedral of the Pines,” he adds. “It stopped me in my tracks, just the resonance of the name. I knew I had to use it.”

The resulting series is more sombre, foreboding and inward-looking than the meticulously staged cinematic photographs that made his name. It opens this week at the Photographers’ Gallery in London, the first time the institution has devoted all its gallery space to a single artist.

Cathedral of the Pines took two and a half years to shoot and, typically for Crewdson, required the kind of preparation that usually attends a Hollywood film: months of casting, location hunting and storyboarding, with an extensive crew to oversee lighting, props, wardrobe, makeup and even some special effects involving artificial smoke and mist.

The new exhibition can be seen from the 23rd at The Photographers Gallery

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Gregory Crewdson The Haircut, 2014 Digital pigment print Image size: 37 1/2 × 50 inches (95.3 × 127 cm) Edition of 3 + 2 APs © Gregory Crewdson

“By my standards, it was relatively restrained,” he says, laughing and citing his 2008 series Beneath the Roses, which cost as much as a mid-budget movie and entailed four city streets being closed down for shots that required rain and snow-making machines.

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Gregory Crewdson The Motel, 2014 Digital pigment print Image size: 37 1/2 × 50 inches (95.3 × 127 cm) Edition of 3 + 2 APs © Gregory Crewdson

Cathedral of the Pines was challenging in a different way. “These pictures are smaller in scale and, to a degree, they were more difficult because they were less spectacular. You have to create meaning and atmosphere in a more intimate way, which makes lighting, for instance, a lot more challenging.”

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Foreboding … Mother and Daughter, 2014 Photograph: © Gregory Crewdson / Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

see more pictures and read the rest of the review in the Guardian here

find out about the exhibition at the Photographers Gallery here

Paying it Forward: Stuart Franklin on teaching the next generation of photographers

Stuart was a member of the original Photogragraphers Workshop when we were based in St Marys Road Oxford. It was a darkroom and studio hire centre so anyone interested in making their own photographs could come and develop film and make prints. Stuart lived in Oxford at that time and would come to make prints, he is a very friendly and helpful man so I am not surprised as his role as a Magnum photographer he is teaching the next generation.

The urge to document their world photographically is a drive that has undoubtedly been felt by many Magnum photographers; and it’s a practice that Stuart Franklin explores in his 2016 book The Documentary Impulse, charting the motivation to visually tell stories and represent the world far back beyond the invention of the camera, all the way to cave painting. From pre-history onwards he explores a history of photographic representation in visual culture and many of the practical and ethical issues that form the backdrop to the current landscape of the industry. Through teaching, Franklin aims to help a new generation of photographers go beyond the practicalities of technique and understand their practice within the weight of this context. Here, Franklin discusses what there is to gain from a photography education, and explains how he experienced the ‘documentary impulse’ himself. You can read more here

Stuart Franklin Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China 26th May 1999. ©Stuart Franklin

On a personal level, how have you felt or experienced the ‘impulse’ in your own practice?
An impulse or obsession is almost crucial to a life in documentary. I have explored a number of ideas – still working on some today – with an irrational drive, where work that I’m pursuing, and the way I’m doing it, makes absolutely no economic sense. Most of my books evolve in that way: Footprint, The Time of Trees, Narcissus, La Città Dinamica – even The Documentary Impulse. I work on projects because I am impelled to do so.

“In visual storytelling coherence across a body of work is an essential part of authorship”

– Stuart Franklin

Read the full article here and find out about the course Stuart is running

Stuart Franklin is teaching on the Intensive Documentary Photography Course with London College of Communication and Magnum Photos. More information about this course, including details on how to apply can be found here.

Supercharged children– in pictures

yet more startling images found in the Guardian.

Known for his portraits of Spanish miners, Pierre Gonnord has turned his technique to young people, creating portraits that look like oil paintings. Light of the Soul by Pierre Gonnord is at Festival Portrait(s), Vichy, France, 16 June to 10 September. All photographs: Pierre Gonnord; he is represented by the Galería Juana de Aizpuru, Madrid

Pierre Gonnord

Nicola, 2010 ‘I know why I do portraits. For the opportunity of encounters. These life experiences. Learn from others, listen, watch, see, feel, express. It’s to open one’s eyes to the world, to know other universes, other realities in order to go beyond one’s own small frontiers in the urban environment and enter little by little into the sharing and the understanding of humanity’

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Iris, 2011 ‘Installed in the silence of a room, generally a very small space, sometimes with daylight, sometimes with a lamp, a flash, just one spot … in a short distance, in the same living area, I can talk with the individual, my fellow, a chosen human being, and looking at him I repeat once again this old ritual. A very short moment. Probably the most ancient since man has been on Earth. Strip little by little all the details, and in silence try to catch what maybe is under the skin’

Pierre Gonnord

Adriano, 2010 ‘I chose the person, the individual, alone in the margins of his social group,’ says Gonnord. ‘When I travel and meet a community, I have time enough to establish contacts and connections, to know individuals that move me for their charisma, sensitivity, intelligence, shyness, beauty … and this is why I decide to invite them (and no others) to do a portrait’

Pierre Gonnord

Attia, 2010 ‘We are absolutely and irreparably involved in otherness. I would like for my portraits to situate us as spectators in front of this other that is at the same time our spectator. The other exists because we exist’

Remarkable aren’t they? see more here 

Even better go and see his website here

Gods of garbage – in pictures

Fascinating set of pictures found in The Guardian

Fabrice Monteiro travelled to the most polluted places in Africa and created terrifying characters who roamed their midst dressed in eerie debris. They are spirits, he says, on a mission to make humans change their ways

Fabrice Monteiro’s All images courtesy the artist, Photo Basel 2017 and Mariane Ibrahim Gallery

‘Who is fighting for clean water in the US? Native Americans. Who is fighting for land preservation in Australia? Aboriginals. The rainforest in Brazil? Indigenous peoples.’

Fabrice Monteiro’s All images courtesy the artist, Photo Basel 2017 and Mariane Ibrahim Gallery

‘When I started the project, I found out what Senegal’s biggest environmental challenges were and chose nine topics that seemed the most visual.’

Fabrice Monteiro’s All images courtesy the artist, Photo Basel 2017 and Mariane Ibrahim Gallery

The surreal figures wear costumes made in collaboration with Dakar-based designer Doulcy, from items found at each location.

Fabrice Monteiro’s All images courtesy the artist, Photo Basel 2017 and Mariane Ibrahim Gallery

Informed by Africa’s environmental problems, Fabrice Monteiro’s photographs aim to highlight urgent ecological issues all over the world. His series The Prophecy is on show at Photo Basel 2017 until 18 June. All images courtesy the artist, Photo Basel 2017 and Mariane Ibrahim Gallery

See more of these astonishing images here

And visit Fabrice Monteiro’s site here

Cloud Storage

When I am teaching I am often asked about cloud storage as a means of backing up images. It seems to me that most people shoot a lot and backing up to the cloud is OK if you have a fast broadband connection but there is the additional issue of cost. We have been seduced by the likes of Google and Amazon offering free or cheap storage but when that free storage is say 30GB that is not much use when you are regularly filling 32GB cards with images. Then came the options of unlimited storage, Amazon were one of the first in on this and it seemed a good deal but as we now learn from DIYPhotography this is coming to an abrupt end and if you have Amazon as your storage you have to look at what you are using because otherwise it might all disappear.

Clouds above Sydney Opera House

Clouds above Sydney Opera House

 

Google have been pushing people towards Google Photos as a means of cloud storage and you get 15GB free, less than one card! a 1TB of storage is $10 a month. Currently I use 3TB external hard drives to back up my images, so that would cost me maybe $30 a month with Google.

Cloud storage is fine if all you do is back up your phone snaps but for any serious photographer the cloud is adding to the expense. So you say external hard drives connected to the computer cost too, this is correct, my Western Digital drives cost about £70 so in 3 months or so I get free storage and the peace of mind knowing Google etc are not tracking my images.

I still like Flickr you get 1TB (1000GB) free and if you want a more pro feel you can upgrade for about £32 a year. It allows for RAW file storage unlike Google and although 1TB is not enough for all my images I use it for my personal work. The trick would be if you want more than 1TB then have more than one account, break your storage down into subject areas.

 

Global hypercolour: Harry Gruyaert’s world of light – in pictures

From The Guardian a short gallery of the wonderful colour photography by Harry Gruyaert. He is one of the photographers we feature in our Composition In Photography course

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USA, Las Vegas, International Airport, 1982 Pop artists such as Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Rauschenberg, and the video artist Nam June Paik, inspired a more experimental series of work, TV Shots, where he photographed news shows on a malfunctioning television set

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Belgium, Antwerp, 1988 Using high contrast and rich colour, Harry Gruyaert fills his photography with heat and light. An exhibition, Western and Eastern Light, is at Michael Hoppen gallery, London, 9 May-27 June. All photographs: Harry Gruyaert/Magnum Photos/courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery

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Egypt, 1987 His travels gave him a new appreciation for his homeland. ‘I had used colour in Morocco and India, places so vibrant they seemed to demand it. Previously, everything back home in Belgium had seemed grey to me. But when I discovered the beauty of banality, I was able to capture Belgium in colour’

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USA, Los Angeles, 1982 Gruyaert studied at the School for Photo and Cinema in Brussels, before becoming director of photography for a TV channel alongside freelance advertising and fashion work

Harry is a Magnum photographer as featured in the last post, you can see more of his work on the Magnum site here

The rest of the Guardian article is here

Magnum Photos at 70: London Events Program

This year Magnum Photos is celebrating 70 years of contribution to photography and world history with a global events program. Public events across New York, London, Paris and in Asia will give people the opportunity to get closer to Magnum. Through engagement with its archival and contemporary work, the agency is committed to connecting more people to the importance of the image and the need to continue telling the world’s most important stories.

As part of these celebrations, a special fortnight of events will be taking place across London from May 8 to 21, 2017. Ranging from an experimental two-week artist residency to a capsule collection of t-shirts, as well as a series of exhibitions and talks throughout the two weeks. Full details here

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David Hurn The Beatles during filming of ‘A Hard Days Night’. The Beatles film was primarily shot on a moving train. Beatles during shooting. London, England. 1964. © David Hurn | Magnum Photos

Magnum and Me: A Personal View

As the agency turns 70, Magnum’s Executive Director David Kogan offers an intimate perspective on photography and why it matters

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Robert Capa US troops assault Omaha Beach during the D-Day landings (first assault).June 6th, 1944. Normandy, France © Robert Capa © International Center of Photography | Magnum Photos

David Kogan is Magnum’s Executive Director and a collector of photography, most notably of Robert Capa. Today we accompany this article with a collection of Robert Capa prints on the Magnum Shop.

Magnum Photos is 70 this year. Seven decades of great work, arguments, financial chaos, more arguments, loves, hatreds and big egos. It is a miracle of survival and commitment that has supported generations of talented photographers to do their work.

As someone who only joined the agency three years ago I’m often asked what makes Magnum worth it? What’s the point of keeping it going after 70 years in a world when so many images are created everyday?

It’s partially a personal commitment to photography itself. It’s also a belief that Magnum occupies a place of critical importance in the modern world of photography and photojournalism.

I started collecting magazines and newspapers when I was in my teens; reading Picture Post and Life magazines from the 1930s to the 1960s. The use of photography dominates these journals as does the skill of the photographers. However, my interest was the history. You get a true sense of another world by reading and looking at a magazine published months before the Second World War, when the writers and photographers have little idea what is going to happen. One of those Picture Posts in 1938 featured “the world’s greatest photographer,” Robert Capa, who had covered both the flood of refugees from the Spanish Civil War and the Japanese invasion of China. This was nine years before he helped create Magnum…….

So, why Magnum and why now?

People say that the world of photography has been radically altered by the digital revolution. There are billions of images uploaded every year from millions of smart phones. Everyone can be a photographer.

This is nothing new. Since the earliest cheap cameras were produced photography has been a mass medium. In the 1920s and 30s every household recorded family snaps on mass-produced cameras. We shouldn’t be surprised that the desire to see a single moment frozen in time appeals to the human eye and emotion. We all want a record of what is important to us. The image or photo gives us the easiest way to get it.

But if you believe that in a world of mass production there is still room for quality and talent then you will always have the great artists, the great singers and the great photographers whose work is different. It speaks to a higher level.

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Henri Cartier-Bresson Muslim women on the slopes of Hari Parbal Hill, praying toward the sun rising behind the Himalayas. Srinagar. Kashmir, India. 1948. © Henri Cartier-Bresson | Magnum Photos

Go here for full details of these events celebrating Magnum 

Magnum Live Lab (May 8 – 21, 2017)

Magnum Photographers Olivia Arthur, Carl De Keyzer and Mark Power will work alongside each other in a two week residency in the Magnum Print Room, responding to the local area. Transforming the space into a working lab, the resulting work will create an exhibition that stands as a celebration of and an inquiry into the medium of photography and the creative process of making.

Find out more here.

Magnum Photos at 70: 7 Decades of Advertising (May 8 – 20, 2017)

Magnum Photos and G.F Smith Photographic have collaborated to explore Magnum’s long history with the advertising industry, featuring notable archival and contemporary examples of Magnum’s work in this area over the last 70 years. The exhibition will recreate work on corresponding historical papers from G.F Smith and feature work from pioneers of the photographic advertising industry such as Burt Glinn.

Find out more here.

Magnum Photos Now: What is Magnum? (May 10, 2017)

Throughout Magnum’s seventy year history there have been many attempts to define the agency, its members’ vision of photography, its values and its history. This lively discussion chaired by photography critic Sean O’Hagan, and featuring the agency’s Executive Director David Kogan alongside Magnum photographers Jonas Bendiksen, David Hurn and Olivia Arthur, will ask the question, ‘What is Magnum?’ and what is the future of this historic agency?

Find out more here.

70 at 70 in London (May 15 – June 15, 2017)

The 70 at 70 exhibition at London’s Kings Cross charts a potted history of Magnum. The exhibition features 70 pictorial and historical photographic icons, celebrating the diversity of the Magnum Photos agency and how its photographers have borne witness to major events of the last 70 years.

Find out more here.

The Magnum Home (May 17 – 21, 2017)

A London pop-up in collaboration with Plinth and publisher Thames & Hudson will explore youth culture, through an exhibition curated by Ekow Eshun, installations, talks and events, as well as the opportunity to purchase limited-edition products by Plinth that incorporate the work of Magnum photographers.

Find out more here.

Magnum at Photo London (May 17 – 21, 2017)

At this year’s Photo London, Magnum is showing a combination of early and contemporary work. This will include both modern and vintage prints alongside period works from Magnum’s 40th exhibition ‘In Our Time’. Magnum is also presenting a unique installation on Japan by Max Pinckers, in which he juxtaposes his own work with vintage prints by Werner Bischof.

Find out more here.

Magnum Photos x Richardson at Dover Street Market London (May 18 – 21, 2017)

Magnum Photos’ extensive archive has been curated by Andrew Richardson on the theme of resistance and protest to create a project at the intersection between fashion and documentary photography in collaboration with Dover Street Market. The capsule collection of 5 t-shirts will be sold exclusively via Dover Street Market.

Find out more here.

David Hurn’s Swaps (May 18 – 21, 2017)

To celebrate the community of photographers of which he is a part, Magnum’s current President Martin Parr has curated a selection of the print swaps from which David Hurn has built an extraordinary collection for an exhibition at Photo London.

Find out more here.

Join us in celebrating Magnum’s 70th anniversary throughout 2017. Bookmark our anniversary hub to find seminal stories, new work, and discover what Magnum events are happening near you.

View and licence some of the our most iconic pictures from our dedicated 70th anniversary page on Magnum Pro.

 

 

What camera should I buy? Techradar’s step-by-step guide

From simple point-and-shoot compacts to full-frame DSLRs, we explain the differences

Once upon a time you would go to a camera shop for this advice but where are the camera shops now? The last remaining one in all of Oxfordshire is in Witney, T4 Cameras, a proper camera shop with people who know about cameras. Buy new or from their extensive second hand range. However if you want to do some research before heading to Witney this will help

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You only have to go into a high-street retail store or look online to get an idea of the sheer number of digital cameras on the market. There are so many brands, types and technologies now available, with each one claiming to be the best (of course!), that it can be really difficult to make sense of it all.

But it’s possible to break all these competing cameras down into a few basic types, and once you do that it becomes much easier to figure out the kind of camera that’s right for you. 

That’s what we’ve done with our expert guide, and you can follow the links at the bottom of the pages to find which is the best camera currently available in each category.

So we’ll start with the basics and work up through the more advanced cameras to the types the professionals use. But you don’t have to stay with us all the way. Treat this guide like sightseeing tour – when you’ve got to where you want to go, just step off the bus!

You can read more of this at Techradar

 

THE DEATH OF DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY

This is a really interesting article about how digital cameras are perceived and why there is so little difference between them. Much like cars I think, any small car is much the same as any other, you choose one because of how it looks and is marketed. However pretty much all cameras look the same so why choose a Nikon or a Canon or any of the others? This article addresses some of the issues that I have seen come up in class with questions from students. The old assumption that a keen photographer would replace their camera every three years no longer holds. In fact if you have a camera from anytime in the last 4 or 5 years it might always do everything you want to a quality you are happy with. Here is the article by Temoor Iqbal is a London based street photographer and writer. You can find out more about him on his website

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As camera makers struggle to innovate, consumers are finding little need to upgrade. The market is slowing to the point of inertia – manufacturers need to take a leftfield approach to stay competitive

In February, Nikon – the world’s second-biggest camera manufacturer by market share – published a notice of ‘recognition of extraordinary loss’. The statement admitted that, over the last nine months of 2016, the company had lost $260m…….

INNOVATION STAGNATION

This decline is curious, at least in the way that it has played out. Aside from Nikon, few if any leading manufacturers have acknowledged that there is any problem. The former cancelled its planned DL series of mirrorless (high-end compact) cameras in the wake of the loss announcement, but market leader Canon released its newest professional model – the EOS 5D Mk IV – in September last year. The camera was universally recognised as an excellent, capable piece of technology, but a unifying feature of reviews was the suggestion that Canon had not changed enough from the previous model – the Mk III – to justify the upgrade……It’s often obscured by superficial features, but the fact is most high-end digital cameras are exactly the same as one another, and the same as older models from the last five years. What’s more, there’s little prospect of them changing much in the near future. As a result, there’s little incentive to upgrade as often as manufacturers would like, which is behind sluggish sales and rapidly stagnating production levels. “If you’re in the market to buy a new camera and don’t have one already…you’ll struggle to make a bad decision”, wrote tech journalist Vlad Savov for The Verge last year. “But if you already own a camera from the past half decade, you probably won’t feel any urge or need to upgrade. Digital imaging technology has matured [and] maturity brings with it a sort of developmental stagnation.”

Read the whole thing here

 

‘I take portraits of gods’: Nobuyuki Kobayashi

With his gorgeous and patiently realised black and white images, Kobayashi searches for a spiritual dimension in the calm beauty of nature. Using a large-format 8×10 camera, the platinum palladium printing technique and sumptuous paper, Kobayashi fills his nature photography with a deep sensuality. An exhibition of his work, Portraits of Nature: Myriads of Gods, is at Sway Gallery, London, to 28 March. All photos: Nobuyuki Kobayashi

As seen in The Guardian

'I take portraits of gods': the photography of Nobuyuki Kobayashi – in pictures

Kodou Platinum prints allow for deep dark tones and create a beautiful matte finish

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Souzou Kobayashi prints on Hosokawa paper, a product that has been made in the same way since 1642. He says he uses this paper to add a ‘Japanese identity’ to his work

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Zen ‘I just keep walking around until I can find a place that incites my emotions,’ says Kobayashi. ‘I feel as though I am not the one who finds places to shoot but am led there by places’

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Shin ‘Strength, beauty and nobleness: all characteristics reveal themselves to me’

See more here