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Category Archives: Masters of Photography

EMPTY DAYS PADDY SUMMERFIELD

Paddy was the first person to walk through the doors of the original Photographers Workshop in June 1982. He has been my friend and teacher ever since. I learned from Paddy that a photograph doesn’t have to be about a thing, it can be just about a feeling.

His latest book ‘Empty Days’ is a testament to the idea that art is about feeling and not necessarily decorative. Like Nan Golding or Richard Billingham Paddy does not shy away from showing “the tragic lives he encountered, lives that touched him because they reflected his own struggles, he made images that would tell their stories, his own story.”

Paddy Summerfield Empty Days

Paddy Summerfield Empty Days

From his publisher:

… a sustained enquiry and search for understanding and meaning in a sometimes-bleak interior landscape … the great success of ‘Empty Days’ is in drawing the viewer fully into Paddy’s world… and as in life, it is both rewarding and on occasions disturbing.
– John Goto 
in Photomonitor, March 2018

…………….

“I would say Empty Days is my road trip, through the places I know – on foot.”

In run-down streets and shabby cafés Paddy Summerfield found his pictures for Empty Days. Among the tragic lives he encountered, lives that touched him because they reflected his own struggles, he made images that would tell their stories, his own story.

“This is the world I know, it could be anywhere, a place we have all seen before. I am sad, the world is sad. I don’t know if I take photographs to embrace sadness or or push it away.”

Paddy Summerfield Empty Days

Paddy Summerfield Empty Days

For Empty Days Summerfield has found emblems of the great themes: religion, sex, and death. Yet among the bleakness of various addictions, the ravages of drinking, of pills, he shows no spiritual comfort, no sexual joy, only the search for love in an unloving world, an unsatisfied spiritual longing. Along pavements and pathways, in claustrophobic rooms or open spaces, he finds the isolated figures, lost in thought or caught in a flash of emotion, to express the yearnings and pain that so many of us share. And where no people are shown, the human traces – an abandoned bicycle, a fallen doll, a tangle of nettles and barbed wire – continue themes of loss and melancholy. Yet however powerless or worn down the people and places shown, these pictures offer compassion, not judgement. A handful of troubling portraits, suggesting powerful and complex emotions, punctuate Empty Days, and intensify our sense of a narrative, albeit elusive and incomplete, as the photographs lead us through a fragile and fragmented world to an ending that suggests the possibility of hope.

Paddy Summerfield Empty Days

Paddy Summerfield Empty Days

Oxford-based, Paddy Summerfield, trained at Guildford School of Art in the Photography and the Film departments. His work has been shown in many galleries, including the ICA, The Barbican, The Serpentine Gallery, and The Photographers’ Gallery. His work is in the collections of the Arts Council and of the V&A, as well as in numerous private collections. Empty Days is his third book published by Dewi Lewis. His earlier book Mother and Father(2014) was widely acclaimed, and featured in several lists of the ‘Best Photobooks of The Year’.

You can buy this exquisite book here

The Playful Street Photography of Pau Buscató

Petapixel is a site worth following, there are often interesting articles and great finds, like this photographer Pau Buscató

My last post was by another photographer who had the ability to see those things others miss and this post has more images that are clever and witty.

Pau Buscató is a street photographer who has a knack for capturing playful moments in which subjects and scenes come together in curious ways for brief moments of time. Many of his pictures are illusions that may cause you to stare a little longer to understand what it is you’re actually seeing.

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You can find more of Buscató’s photos on his website, Instagram, and Flickr.

You can find more of Buscató’s photos on his websiteInstagram, and Flickr.

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Pau Buscató

“My approach to street photography is very intuitive and I’ve always liked to let my work grow freely, without me forcing any direction or themes,” Buscató writes. “It’s a very open process that demands full awareness and fresh eyes, to see the ordinary things of our everyday not just for what they are, but also for what they can become, when photographed.

“There is a strong sense of play in my street photography. It’s a game for me, and the city is my playground.”

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Pau Buscató

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Pau Buscató

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Pau Buscató

https://www.buscato.net/colour/

You can find more of Buscató’s photos on his websiteInstagram, and Flickr.

 

 

Casablanca Not the Movie – in pictures

I saw this in the Guardian and had to share it with you. A few weeks ago I was taken to see Casablanca, the movie, by some friends. I am not sure I had ever seen it in it’s entirety before but it was enjoyable in a noirish sort of way. These pictures have nothing in common with the movie and all the better for it

There’s no sign of Humphrey Bogart or the stereotyped images found in travel guides in Yoriyas Yassine Alaoui Ismaili’s photographs of Casablanca. His images are full of energy and surprise, and show what the city is really like. Casablanca Not the Movie is at Riad Yima, Marrakech until 30 June 2018

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Moulay Rachid, Casablanca, 2015

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Sidi Othmane, Casablanca, 2017

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Old Medina, Casablanca, 2017

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Hay Hassani, Casablanca, 2015

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Ain Diab beach, Casablanca, 2016

see more of Yoriyas Yassine Alaoui Ismaili’s photographs of Casablanca here

or better visit his website here

Lewis Hine, photographer who changed lives

Twenty-four photographs from the Lewis Hine archive have been auctioned in New York. The rare prints were from the collection of the late New York photographer Isador Sy Seidman.

American sociologist Hine was one of the most important documentary photographers of the 20th Century. Because the notion of photojournalism and documentary did not exist at the time, Hine called his projects “photo stories”, using images and words to fight for the causes he believed in.

The prints span Hine’s career and many are from his most well-known projects, centring on the poor and disadvantaged from the Carolinas, New York and Pittsburgh. from the BBC

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Mechanic at Steam Pump in Electric Power House, circa 1921. The rare print of this photograph sold for just over $80,000 (£57,000).

Hine spent years dedicated to his many projects, creating photographs that depicted his subjects with dignity and compassion. In 1904, he began to document the immigrants arriving at Ellis Island.

His aim was to give a human face to the newly arrived families, who were often feared by New Yorkers.

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Mother and child, Ellis Island, 1907.

After asking his subjects’ permission, Hine would set up his shot and ignite the flash powder, which would go off with a loud bang, producing lots of dramatic black smoke.

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Hot day on East Side, New York, 1908.

See more of these fascinating images on the BBC website here

The Why and How of Gregory Crewdson

When I went to see the Gregory Crewdson exhibition in London earlier in the summer, it was the opening day and I had a strange experience. I went with my friend David and we were looking at these fantastic images and I was trying to explain to David how I understood Gregory worked and the use of symbolism and atmosphere in the pictures. I was eulogising the work and the man, I think he is a genius. Then as I was explaining a man started to invade our space, he was in a suit but creatively scruffy, long hair and with a friend following. You know how it is at exhibitions, you sort of want the space to yourself and as I was in full flow was a touch put out by the intrusion.

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Gregory Crewdson The Haircut, 2014 © Gregory Crewdson

We moved on the next picture and in a short while here was the man again, more lacking in exhibition etiquette I thought in my very British way. The man and his companion had moved to the 3rd picture on the wall so David and I hopped to the 4th. I was leaning in close to admire the exquisite detail in one of the images when they appeared again, the companion leaned in and pointed to exactly where I was looking and turned to the man and said, “That is so beautiful, you are so clever”

I had been irritated by the presence of a master, how stupid of me. I didn’t say hello, a bit embarrassed but I wish I had now.

Yesterday I found this film on YouTube where Gregory talks about his process and motivations and intentions, I so wish I had head it from him in person. The 30 minute film shows him orchestrating the actors, environment and atmosphere to capture the remarkable images he makes.

This is such a brilliant 30 minutes I would really recommend you watch

If I had seen this first I would have recognised him and maybe not have made a fool of myself by explaining to the master his works!

The great man at work

Sadly the exhibition of his recent work Cathedral of the Pines has now ended at the Photographers Gallery

Swapper – David Hurn Magnum Photographer

I chanced upon this on the BBC website. It is one of the most interesting articles I have ever read about the method and process of being a photographer. Hurn, one of the masters of documentary photography (although that sells him short as his work covered a far greater range) tells the story of how and why he became a photographer, his influences, mentors, and methods. I loved that he would find out when famous photographers were coming to the UK and then offer himself as a driver, guide and assistant. Or that he would find out where photographers he admired lived and would knock on their door and just introduce himself. This is an article you MUST read. It is long and full of images so give yourself time, you will be rewarded.

The Swapper is a story about the internationally-acclaimed British documentary photographer David Hurn; it is a story of a dyslexic, Welsh schoolboy written off as being “a bit thick” and an extraordinary “succession of bizarre coincidences” which would propel him into the ranks of photography’s elite.

A fixture of Sixties London and the Hollywood inner sanctum, his images of Jane Fonda as Barbarella, Sean Connery as James Bond, and the Beatles on the set of A Hard Day’s Night, became icons of the 20th Century.

But they are mere window dressing on a body of work so influential that recognition by him is now regarded as something of an anointing of careers.

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/resources/idt-sh/david_hurn_photographer_swaps_magnum

David Hurn, the iconic Bond Imagehim is now regarded as something of an anointing of careers.

 

David Hurn is a luminary of Magnum Photos.

Magnum is the stuff of legends. Being invited to join its hallowed ranks – there are only 62 working members in the world – is notoriously difficult; think of it as a kind of SAS, Harvard, an Olympics gold medal of photography.

“I saw a pattern in how all the most respected photographers approached their work,” Hurn said, “and I believed that these basic principles could be passed onto aspiring youngsters.”

Hurn’s interest was encouraged and he set up the School of Documentary Photography at the Newport College of Art. It would become one of the most sought after courses in the UK and beyond.

The course was run with Hurn’s characteristic pragmatic approach.

There was to be no philosophical navel-gazing about ‘truth’ or the ‘theory of light’, it was about being on time, wearing good shoes – “If you’re walking around for hours taking pictures, you need them” – analysing the contact sheets of successful photographers – “It’s the best way to see how they think” – and, most importantly of all, getting a job.

“It was unbelievable,” Hurn says. “We used to have about 700 applicants for 15 to 20 places.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/resources/idt-sh/david_hurn_photographer_swaps_magnum

Jnr Wales ballroom dance championships, Bargoed 1973, Hurn

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/resources/idt-sh/david_hurn_photographer_swaps_magnum

Pit pony handlers’ rest room, Neath Valley, 1993, Hurn

Book mark this link and go and read this wonderful story

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/resources/idt-sh/david_hurn_photographer_swaps_magnum

Rankin launches social media campaign for World Heart Day

Rankin is one of Britain’s most famous and important photographers, he is the David Bailey of our times and in many ways as influential. He is a photographer who is at the top of his profession as his website shows.    He is also a man, a good man who cares about a wide range of issues and he is putting his considerable prowess and exposure behind a campaign for the “Heart for a Heart” campaign, created for World Heart Day

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The “Heart for a Heart” campaign, created for World Heart Day

The “Heart for a Heart” campaign, created for World Heart Day, is a response to the fact that every three minutes someone dies from heart or circulatory disease in the UK. Its aim is to get people who spend their days tapping the heart symbol on Instagram and Twitter to instead design their own heart-inspired artwork and post it on social media on World Heart Day, on Friday. From The Guardian

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Rankin by Photograph: Anthony Devlin/PA

“You have great artwork to inspire everybody,” he said. “Everyone can draw a heart, it’s one of the simplest symbols to draw and it works across all cultures and languages. The heart is the universal symbol. It can be romantic, it can be broken, it can be used on T-shirts to profess a love for a city. And, in recent years, it is synonymous with social media. The team and I wanted to make that mean something.”

“I am not an expert,” he said. “I just think it’s important to research these things for yourself. I am definitely a short, fat, very unhealthy bloke so if I can do a little bit, then everybody can do it. This is a fun way of going, ‘It’s important to look after yourself,’ and I like the idea of a social media conceit that is not just liking something.”

The photographer and the BHF are asking people to upload their artwork to social media on Friday using the hashtag #heartforaheart, tagging @TheBHF.

Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with being a short, fat photographer but I take his point, getting healthy and supporting this good cause is important

So what will you do, will you ignore the request,  or will you upload some artwork to spread the word and share the love?

 

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