Urban Photography – A sense of place


I managed to get into town today after taking the dog for a walk this morning. It’s cold and wet up here in the North of England. I’ve been contemplating this thing ‘Urban’ genre of photography just lately. Ever since I saw a reference to it on a social media thread or website or in a magazine or somewhere I can’t quite remember; ‘Urban Photography’ – A sense of place. How does it differ from street photography and do I really care ? I’ve been asked to give a talk on Street Photography to a U3A Group after Christmas which should be fun.

Urban Photography – A sense of place

I bumped into an ex work colleague of mine whom I regard as a friend. Not a close friend.  I suppose he could be described as a peripheral friend if you know what I mean ?  He seemed a bit reluctant to stop and talk as though he was thinking “oh God it’s that nutter with a camera” but nevertheless he did stop. He seemed a bit depressed. We got onto the subject of social media. He said ” Do ya know what gets me about facebook and twitter ? You get to know what’s in people’s heads where as you didn’t before and a lot of the time it’s not pleasant.”


The test of time

Editing my images is a constant ongoing process and should be for any photographer. Sometimes you know you’ve got a great image as soon as the shutter is pressed. Other times images need time to mature like a fine wine. They need the passage of time in order to gain context and history. You need to sit on them for a while and even ignore them for a bit. Sometimes an image you’d maybe previously overlooked jumps right out at you demanding your attention and suddenly you realise that hey that’s not a bad image after all.

I like to think this is one of my images that will stand the test of time. I love everything about it.

Find the person worthy

I’ve had one of those emails. It goes like this;

Good afternoon!!!How are you today???
I view your profile and you to me steel interesting….
I would like to learn you as it is possible closer..
I have decided to write to you.. I can inform also that I the pleasant and good-looking girl with good sense of humour..
I like different a kind of sports, I like to float in pool..
I also send you the photo, Inform me as receive it, Okey..?
I want to find the person worthy, decent for warm attitudes…
With impatience I shall wait for your letter….

She’ll have to have a good sense of humour to get involved with me. I see she likes to “float in pool”. Interesting !

It’s been an interesting and memorable past three weeks. I’ve witnessed at first hand the power of shopping and just how resilient people can be when it comes to the act of shopping and the crap people can be persuaded that they need to make that perfect Christmas here in the UK.

It’s bloody strange times we’re living in isn’t it ?  The Internet has opened up whole new and immediate avenues for us to explore hasn’t it. Masses and masses of information instantly available to us. More photos are being taken now than at any time before. Truth in photography is as slippery and ambiguous as it’s ever been. It’s getting to the stage where we can’t trust information that is being presented to us. We’re getting to the stage where we don’t know what’s Fake News and what’s Real. The past is catching up and merging with the present and  the future like some giant tsunami. People would rather peer into their mobile phone screens than engage with the immediate world about them and people are not less anxious they’re more.
So what do we do ? How do we cope ? Somehow we have to hold on tightly to a sense of reality. Enjoy the here and now. Be kind and warm and sincere to those about us. Do not let ourselves be influenced by those who would wish to do us harm or us do harm on others.

Slugging it out

I’m currently involved in a discussion on Facebook amongst some of my photography friends.
Below is the initial post from a friend of mine Paul Hill followed by my input from further down the thread.

Paul writes: At the suggestion of one or two friends, I have put a draft proposal together to revisit and revive THREE PERSPECTIVES ON PHOTOGRAPHY – widely acknowledged as a seminal exhibition – that was put on by the Arts Council at the Hayward Gallery in 1979. As it will be the show’s 40th anniversary in 2019, and as I was one of the curators (with John Tagg and Angela Kelly), I contacted the directors of the Whitechapel Gallery and the Hayward. They do not have direct emails, of course, and despite many emails and phone calls to ‘director’s assistants and/or interns’, no one has deemed it necessary to respond so far.
I have quite a lot of scrambled egg behind my name, so what do you have to do to get replies to serious proposals?
If anyone knows personally Iwona Blaswick and Jude Kelly, could you tell them this is not the way to deal with fellow professionals.
Shown were Thomas J. Cooper, Raymond Moore, Brian Griffin, Martin Parr, Graham Smith, Roger Palmer, Aileen Ferriday, Yve Lomax, Sarah McCarthy, Jo Spence, Vic Burgin, Robert Golden and many many more….

My latest response; 

The problem as I see (in my limited experience) is that many of you photographers on here want patronage from the self imposed art / photography establishment, the gallery owners and curators etc. We/you submit proposals in the hope that they will be received favourably and the rest just falls into place. For them in this era of everything has to have a bottom line profit they want exhibitions that get the punters through the door and into the gift shop and café. The already tried and tested, the Parr’s, the Grayson Perry, the Banksy. The public have to ‘get it’ instantly and if they don’t then it’s just oh so too risky. The curators just won’t take the risks or have the imagination because they daren’t. In my opinion these artists who are constantly trying to get their foot in the door of these big name galleries are wasting their time !! Trying to climb the slippery pole of fame and kudos is energy sapping and futile. The galleries and curators just love being constantly bombarded by portfolios and submissions because it makes them feel so important and self satisfied smug. They can create revenue streams out of portfolio reviews and competition submissions to satisfy their Board of Trustees.
So what do we who refuse to play this game do about it ? We create our own bandwagons for others to jump on. We create our own publications and exhibitions …………leftfield ( my favourite word). We make work that is cheap and low-fi if necessary. We don’t need expensive framed prints to hang in galleries. We can print cheaply and use photocopiers and laminators and industrial staplers. We can show our work anywhere we want; in pubs, clubs, shops, bus stops, car parks, derelict buildings, building site hoardings. Blogs, Facebook, Twitter etc etc.
I once saw a programme about the left wing students in France in the 60’s ? They were making wonderful graphic designed posters everyday and pasting them on walls every night around Paris. It was brilliant stuff. The artist Jean Michel-Basquiat started out on the street.
Come on people !!

Roses have thorns

Dog Shit and Roses

Black Friday ? What’s all that about ? It’s amazing isn’t it how the Gods of Capitalism continue to invent new and multifarious ways to get us to part with our cash. I heard a figure of 8 Billion quoted that would be spent on so called Black Friday. On this day, for one day only the big business’s find ways to supposedly slash their prices and thus create newsworthy mayhem on the High St. Am I cynical ? You bet I am. There can be no sadder shopping sight than seeing people slugging it out over a 40 inch flat screen TV ? How pathetic.  People falling over each other in panic and excitement to be the first through the doors to get those things they don’t really need or most likely actually want. There is a big difference in this world between ‘need’ and ‘want’.

The measure of us

Let’s not beat about the bush. Let’s be crystal clear about this. There are many, many people in this world for whom daily life is a constant struggle, an epic battle. Just getting through the day is a gargantuan achievement in itself. The measure of us as human beings and as a civilised society must surely be how we treat and look after those who do not take those things that we do, for granted ? Things like walking, standing up and even breathing and so much more. Never miss out on an opportunity to show kindness.

A Twitter feed I’m following asked the question today; Should Street Photography be made illegal ? The answer my friends is an emphatic NO !