Oxford School of Photography

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Monthly Archives: August 2015

A century of west African portrait photography – in pictures

The rich tradition of portrait photography in west Africa is explored in a new exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In and Out of the Studio showcases over 80 images taken from the 1870s to 1970s, ranging from casual shots to formal portraits, and features some of the stars of west African photography such as JD ‘Okhai Ojeikere and Samuel Fosso. The exhibition runs 31 August to 3 January  In The Guardian



The installation seeks to expand our understanding of West African portrait photography by rendering the broad variety of these practices and aesthetics. It juxtaposes photographs, postcards, real photo postcards, and original negatives taken both inside and outside the studio by amateur and professional photographers active from Senegal to Cameroon and from Mali to Gabon.


Further details from the Museum website here

Keith Arnatt is proof that the art world doesn’t consider photography ‘real’ art

Sean O’Hagan on photography in The Guardian is always a good place to start when looking for something intriguing, interesting and often challenging. You are not likely to find Sean talking about sunsets, flower or wildlife photography and in this article he highlights an exhibition by Keith Arnatt.


Portrait of the Artist as a Shadow of His Former Self, 1969-72, by Keith Arnatt. Photograph: © Keith Arnatt Estate. All rights reserved, DACS 2015/Courtesy Sprüth Magers

Keith Arnatt liked to photograph things “everyone else thinks aren’t worth photographing”. These included discarded toys, dog poo, detritus from rubbish tips and the various notes his wife, Jo, left around the house for him.

Seven years after his death in 2008, Arnatt remains a singular – and bafflingly undervalued – presence in British art. A small but illuminating show at Sprüth Magers in London, called Absence of the Artist, provides a glimpse of Arnatt’s early use of a medium he would later embrace with the obsessive devotion of the convert. It is a survey of Keith Arnatt, the pioneering conceptual artist, before he became Keith Arnatt, the pioneering photographer.

Arnatt had already made a name for himself as a mischievous artist when he went to a lecture in 1973 entitled Photography or Art? by David Hurn, who had just set up the photography department at Newport College of Art, in south Wales. “When the lecture was over,” Hurn later wrote, “a man came over and introduced himself, saying ‘I’m Keith Arnatt. Would you help me become a photographer?’”


Intriguingly, Arnatt had already been using photography in his art practice, making extended pieces like Self-Burial, on display here, which comprises nine images of him slowly disappearing into the earth. Inspired by Hurn’s lecture on the work of Diane Arbus, August Sander and Walker Evans, Arnatt suddenly embraced photography by “mucking in with the students”. As he immersed himself in the history of photography, he started making work that was all his own: odd, slyly humorous and provocative takes on the everyday that were both acutely observational and absurd.


Keith Arnatt, from the sequence Self-Burial, 1969. Photograph: Courtesy Sprüth Magers/© Keith Arnatt Estate. All rights reserved, DACS 2015

The exhibition is at Sprüth Magers Berlin London

SEPTEMBER 01 – SEPTEMBER 26 2015 Opening hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 10 am – 6 pm

The SM website says The Absence of the Artist betrays the artist’s deadpan wit, wholly characteristic of Arnatt’s response to the various conflicts stimulating the art world throughout the late 1960s. The viewer is presented with a paradox: a sign, posted on a brick wall and photographed in black and white, declares the absence of the artist. Yet by denying his absence, he thrusts himself forward, seemingly emphasising the artist’s role. The Absence of the Artist highlights a fierce ambivalence about the artist’s role that was prevalent at the time. As more sceptical, pluralist ideas about art were starting to replace modernism – and its pantheon of great artists – the role of the artist was subjected to constant investigation. What divides the artist from his work or the ideas that it might produce? Do we even need the actions of an artist to declare something an artwork?

Read more from The Guardian and Sean O’Hagen here

Photo Challenge – THE WAY

We are always keen to help out right and like thinking folks to ourselves and have agreed to test out this new function on the Photocrowd site. It allows us to set a challenge to which you can contribute pictures. It is great fun and for Photocrowd a learning experience. You never know it might become a regular feature. Have a go, send in some pictures we would love to know your way. Go here

The challenge we have set is titled THE WAY

You can interpret this in any way that interests you, it could be a path, a thoroughfare, a process (the way to do something), or something more spiritual; how you interpret and what you produce is up to you. Photography is more than simply recording what is in front of you, it is your unique way of seeing, showing others your vision is what makes being a photographer such a thrilling experience. Before you start shooting think about what you would like to say and how you would like to do that. It might be that an image with lines leading somewhere speaks to you, think of the wonderful Bill Brandt landscapes; or you might like to consider something more esoteric and represent your ideas about a spiritual way. Making pictures is about you and not anyone else so think about what matters to you. For this challenge you do not have to shoot new pictures, we would be happy for you to reconsider images you have in your archive and send us those.

Our purpose is education, that is what The OSP is for and there are no better teachers than the masters of photography. Here are some ideas from the greats of photography


Norway – Piotr Trybalski/www.tpoty.com





Bill Brandt


Dorothea Lange

Henri Cartier-Bresson


Henri Cartier Bresson





Sebastiao Salgado



_DSC2712; Kara Tribe, Omo Valley, Ethiopia, 08/2012, ETHIOPIA-10032.  Silhouette of a young girl running into the sunset. Running at Sunset retouched_Sonny Fabbri MAX PRINT SIZE: 40X60

Boy in mid-flight, Jodhpur, India, 2007 At the foot of the vast Mehrangarh Fort, one can find the Blue City, a small tightly knit maze of houses located towards the north of Jodhpur. In one of the narrow alleyways a boy flees McCurry's camera. Balancing three intersecting planes of colour - one of which is covered in stark red handprints - the image pulsates with energy as a young boy dashes through the narrow alleyways. At the foot of the vast Mehrangarh Fort, one can find the Blue City, a small tightly knit maze of houses located towards the north of Jodhpur. Balancing three intersecting planes of colour - one of which is covered in stark red handprints - the image pulsates with energy as a young boy dashes through the narrow alleyways. Phaidon, IP page 6, final print_poster Unguarded Moment_Book Iconic_Book final print_MACRO final print_Genoa final print_Sao Paulo retouched_Sonny Fabbri

Steve McCurry



What is 4K resolution and why does it matter?

I am sometimes asked by people who should probably know better than ask me about the future, “What is the next big thing in cameras?” Well there have been a number of false dawns, a couple of years ago everyone was talking about light field cameras, you take a picture and then on the computer decide what bit you want in focus, and if you don’t like it you can change it, see this post. Well so far it doesn’t seem to have taken off. People tell me cameras in phones are the next big thing, seems doubtful. Anyway for a while there have been grumblings about 4K video with the ability to grab a still of over 8mp, that means a file size of 25mb so big enough to print at full resolution without resampling up to A4. Most people don’t get close to printing up to A4 (12in x 8″ for our American friends) so that sounds OK then. The idea is that in the future we will just video everything and then grab a still from the vid. Well it might manage to capture the ‘decisive moment’ but I’m sure Henri Cartier Bresson would not have been impressed.

This article on Digital Camera World goes some of the way to explaining 4K.

Screen resolution AW 3 with annotations

This is the conclusion to the article But it’s the opportunity to capture stills from 4K footage that we’re really interested in. Creating digital images in this way is nothing new, but each frame of 4K video is 3,840×2,160 pixels – generating an 8.3MP image. By comparison, stills extracted from Full HD clips deliver images closer to 2MP.

Of greater significance is that these 8.3MP pictures are captured at up to 30 frames per second. Being able to choose a single, 8-megapixel frame from an entire sequence gives you the flexibility to isolate the ‘decisive moment’ at your leisure.

Sounds ideal, doesn’t it? But the optimum shutter speeds for recording smooth video are generally much slower than when taking photos. This can result in moving objects being blurred in the extracted frame.

The other downside is that the image will be saved in the 16:9 aspect ratio. Cropping to a more photo-friendly 3:2 or 4:3 means losing some of the picture area and reducing the possible print size.

Keen to get around these problems, Panasonic has introduced a 4K Photo mode in its new cameras, with optimised settings for still image capture.

Meanwhile, professional broadcast video cameras are now starting to offer 8K – offering four times the resolution of 4k – and 33.2 megapixel stills from each frame!

Where will it all end?

The best photography exhibitions on now

I so love the way  some newspapers, magazines and blogs gather together a list of the exhibitions worth seeing and so thanks to The Telegraph for this, I have also added some other exhibitions that you might find interesting

In no particular order here is a selection of what is on show now:

Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon, National Portrait Gallery

‘Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon’, National Portrait Gallery, London WC2, July 2 – Oct 18. Tickets: 020 7766 7344; npg.org.uk. ‘Charade’ will be the featured film on MUBI on July 5. For details, go to telegraph.co.uk/film/mubi

AUDREY HEPBURN: PORTRAITS OF AN ICON 2 July – 18 October 2015, National Portrait Gallery, London *IMAGE TO PROMOTE EXHIBITION ONLY* ... Audrey Hepburn dressed in Givenchy with sunglasses by Oliver Goldsmith by Douglas Kirkland,  1966 © Iconic Images/Douglas Kirkland

2 July – 18 October 2015, National Portrait Gallery, London
*IMAGE TO PROMOTE EXHIBITION ONLY* … Audrey Hepburn dressed in Givenchy with
sunglasses by Oliver Goldsmith by Douglas Kirkland,
1966 © Iconic Images/Douglas Kirkland

Captain Linnaeus Tripe: Photographer of India and Burma, 1852-1860

24 June – 11 October 2015 V & A Photography, Room 38a Admission free



Linnaeus Tripe, Pugahm Myo: Thapinyu Pagoda, August 20-24, 1855. Lent by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, The Buddy Taub Foundation, Dennis A. Roach and Jill Roach, Directors, and Alfred Stieglitz Society Gifts, 2012. Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Soldiers and Suffragettes: The Photography of Christina Broom

An enterprising housewife taught herself to use a camera and won the admiration of Queen Mary

Where: Museum of London Docklands
Address: No.1 Warehouse, W India Dock Rd, London E14 4AL
Until: Nov 1


London Dust

London Dust is a small photography and film exhibition, responding to the redevelopment of the City of London and the fallout from the 2008 financial crisis. As property prices rise, and the pressure to maximise space increases, London’s financial district has seen ever more fanciful towers appear in the skyline.

Blees Luxemburg’s images contrast the idealised, architectural computer-generated visions of London that clad City building sites, with the gritty, unpolished reality.


Detail from ‘Aplomb (St. Paul’s)’ by Rut Blees Luxemburg –

See more on offer at The Telegraph

Dusseldorf Photography: Bernd And Hilla Becher & beyond

4 September – 3 October 2015 This autumn Ben Brown Fine Arts is pleased to present a major survey of photography originating from the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf after 1976. The exhibition offers an opportunity to see varying interpretations of the German ‘New Objectivity’ style championed by Bernd and Hilla Becher side by side, including meditations on architecture and landscape by their former pupils Candida Höfer, Andreas Gursky, Axel Hütte, Thomas Ruff, Elger Esser and Thomas Struth, also known today as the Düsseldorf School of Photography.

Ben Brown Fine Arts 12 Brook’s Mews, London W1K 4DG T. +44 (0)20 7734 8888 E. info@benbrownfinearts.com http://www.benbrownfinearts.com Monday to Friday: 11am – 6pm Saturdays: 10.30am – 2.30pm


Bernd And Hilla Becher Gas Tanks

Julia Margaret Cameron: Influence and Intimacy at Science Museum


Catch a glimpse of some truly pioneering photography as the Science Museum presents Julia Margaret Cameron: Influence and Intimacy.

The exhibition marks the 200th anniversary of Cameron’s birth and features images drawn from the world’s most extensive collection of Cameron photographs, found in the Science Museum Group’s remarkable National Photography Collection.

The innovative artist became famous for her shots of her artistic and literary friends, acquaintances and family members. Her illustrious acquaintances included the likes of Alfred Tennyson, Julia Jackson(mother of Virginia Woolf), Thomas Carlyle and William Holman Hunt.

Cameron deliberately used unconventional methods when taking her shots, avoiding sharp focus and including technical faults to create more expressive images, much to the disdain of the photographic press of the day. The exhibition also features rare objects relating to Cameron’s life, including a daguerreotype portrait of herself, her only surviving camera lens, hand written notes from her autobiography and rare shots taken in Sri Lanka towards the end of her life.

Free  From 24/09/2015  To 28/03/2016

Exhibition Road in South Kensington, London, SW7 2DD

Lee Miller: A Woman’s War at Imperial War Museum

Discover the incredible story behind one of the last century’s most important female war photographers with Lee Miller: A Woman’s War at the Imperial War Museum.

The exhibition looks at the impact that the Second World War had on women’s lives, using the remarkable images taken by Miller throughout the conflict in her perilous role as photographer.

The major exhibition is the first to examine the contrasting ways in which Lee viewed gender, using many of her personal items to tell the compelling story of her career and the important part she played in the war.


Anna Leska, Polish pilot 1942 by Lee Miller

Coming soon: 15 October 2015 – 24 April 2016

IWM London
Lambeth Road

Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year at Royal Observatory Greenwich

See the night sky as you have never seen it before as Astronomy Photographer of the Year returns to the Royal Observatory Greenwich. The Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition is an annual celebration of the most beautiful and spectacular visions of the cosmos by astrophotographers worldwide. In 2015 the competition launched for its seventh year with new categories and more prizes up for grabs. The winning images are showcased at the Royal Observatory Greenwich in an exhibition opening 18 September.


Aurora over a Glacier Lagoon by James Woodend, UK

Royal Observatory
Blackheath Avenue
Greenwich, SE10 8XJ

See the shortlist here

BP Spotlight: Karen Knorr at Tate Britain

Exhibition bringing together two series of work which combine image and text exploring patriarchal values in the upper middle classes and the aspirations and lifestyle of a privileged minority living in one of the most affluent parts of London.

13 October 20144 October 2015 Tate Britain

Belgravia 1979-81 Karen Knorr born 1954 Presented by Tate Members 2013 and forming part of Eric and Louise Franck London Collection http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/P80334

Belgravia 1979-81 Karen Knorr born 1954 Presented by Tate Members 2013 and forming part of Eric and Louise Franck London Collection







The Salt of the Earth Wim Wenders’s thoughtful portrait of photographer Sebastião Salgado

I know a bit late to alert you to this but better today than tomorrow. The Wim Wenders documentary about Sebastião Salgado is showing for the last time at the UPP on Cowley Road, Oxford tonight, start time is 6.30pm, here is what the Guardian said about the film .

Wim Wenders co-directed this documentary about Sebastião Salgadowith the photographer’s son, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, bringing “an outsider’s view” to a wealth of extant footage and photos. From stunning images of the gold mines of Serra Pelada (“I had travelled to the dawn of time”), to the horrors of famine in the Sahel and genocide in Rwanda (“We humans are a terrible animal… our history is a history of war”), and ultimately to the rebirth of the “Genesis” project, The Salt of the Earth finds Salgado revisiting and confronting his turbulent past.

Speaking to Wenders while gazing at – and sometimes through – his back catalogue, Salgado proves an adept and compassionate storyteller, his training as an economist providing sociopolitical insight into the suffering (manmade rather than natural) that threatens to engulf his work. “Everybody should see this image,” he says at one point, although the unspeakable sights captured by his camera prove so unbearable that one is all but forced to look away. Elsewhere, footage of Salgado with Papua’s Yali tribe or the Amazonian Zo’é of Brazil offer a more uplifting portrait of humanity, while the reforestation of the Instituto Terrasuggests that all may not yet be lost.

Salgado is a photographer we feature in some of our courses notably Composition In Photography – Seeing Pictures and Intermediate Photography


Colin Batty’s sci-fi portraiture

It is the summer and there is time to kill so you must permit me to find things less serious and more fanciful, Colin Batty definitely fits that universe. Initially found in The Guardian but then followed up at Colin Batty’s Peculiarium

Colin Batty’s interest in the bizarre stems from a childhood love of sci-fi. “The kids who weren’t good at sports would spend a lot of time on their own,” he says. “So I got into outsider stuff, like Frankenstein and movie monsters.” The Mancunian artist has worked in animation for 30 years, including on the Oscar-winning short The Sandman in 1992 and various Tim Burton films. His most recent project is a series of cabinet cards – late-19th- and early-20th-century formal portraits he alters to include unexpected monstrous elements. “The photos suggest their own stories. Some are just crying out for me to stick something in there.”






see more here

Travel Photographer of the Year

The BBC has an extended article with lots of images from Travel Photographer of the Year This award has been going for some years and attracts a really marvellous set of images from around the world, if you are interested in travel, peoples, landscapes, cities, in fact pretty much everything then the TPOTY site is a must and you should bookmark it now.

This is from the BBC site

From the harsh reality of the natural world, to stunning beauty seen at some of the planet’s remotest locations – the best images from the latest Travel Photographer of the Year competition are now on show in London.

For a photograph to stand out from the crowd, says Caroline Metcalfe of TPOTY‘s judging panel, it must provoke an immediate emotional response.

“It then has to draw me in and make me want to linger for more than a few seconds.”

A former director of photography at Conde Nast Traveller magazine, with a 20-year pedigree in the business, Metcalfe has been looking through some of the images which made the judges’ final selection for TPOTY 2014 – including two sets from Philip Lee Harvey which earned him the top prize.


Himba Tribe, Namibia – Philip Lee Harvey/www.tpoty.com


_84524823_6c48856b-5b56-41f0-8bd2-b547a286c663Lalibela, Ethiopia – Philip Lee Harvey/www.tpoty.com

TPOTY website says: The Travel Photographer of the Year (TPOTY) photo contest is run by photographers for photographers. Whether you are amateur or professional, beginner or expert, young or old, wherever you live in the world, TPOTY is for you!

2015 sees TPOTY’s 13th award, with new categories and new opportunities to showcase the best travel photography. Entries open from 28th May. You can view the latest winners in the 2014 Winners Gallery or in our latest book, Journey Seven.


Riviera Maya, Mexico – Terry Steeley/www.tpoty.com


Norway – Piotr Trybalski/www.tpoty.com


Java, Indonesia – Sue O’Connell/www.tpoty.com


El Tatio geyser field, Chile – Ignacio Palacios/www.tpoty.com


Salar de Uyuni (salt flat), Uyuni, Bolivia – Ignacio Palacios/www.tpoty.com


North of Svalbard in the Arctic – Joshua Holko/www.tpoty.com

All 2014 finalists from Travel Photographer of the Year can be seen at the Royal Geographical Society in Kensington, London, until 5 September 2015.

Our next travel photography course starts in November