This is not one of those instructional how to Blogs. I don’t do equipment reviews or anything like that, nor do I tell you how to go out and take the perfect street shots. That’s up to you to find out and there’s plenty of self appointed experts out in the blogosphere who’ll tell you what they think they know. If you want my advice then by you’re welcome to ask for it and I’ll try my best to oblige. My wish is that my images and work encourage and inspire you to go out and have a go yourself and attempt to say something about the world you occupy.
I don’t generally focus my camera on street entertainers for the simple reason that it’s too easy. They expect to be photographed, it’s part of the deal they make with their practise and therefore will happily perform for the camera. As such the subject is flogged to death. I don’t turn my camera on the homeless on the streets either. That’s a subject which photographically needs a much more in depth analysis.
The Badger Chronicles Series
January is a shitty month. I’ve never been a big fan really. Here in the UK it’s cold, wet and damp. This last week the sky has been a leaden grey. If it wasn’t for the BBC crime drama Death in Paradise I wouldn’t get any bloody sunshine right now. The temperature this last week has been about 4 degrees. Apologies if you live in a much colder climate and you’re thinking “hey that’s nothing you should try minus fifteen” or something but here in England anything approaching freezing starts to become a national crisis. We can’t cope.
Yesterday my Version Lightroom 2 decided to throw a wobbler and re-assigned the Folder drive to a different drive letter thus rendering all my images missing. Yes I know we’re on Lightroom 7 or whatever but when I buy a software package I expect it to last forever. I only use it to catalogue and work flow my images with a bit of exposure tweeking anyway. So now I’ve got to go through the whole sorry process of re-assigning the drive letter. The bastard ! The good news is that with my Windows phone now set to Windows 10 I can load the proper version of Instagram. Check me out andygreaves54. So I can up my Instagram profile. Hoorah to that !
I didn’t get a good night’s sleep last night. There was a party going on in my head, lights were flashing, thoughts were dancing. If I could have got up and put pen to paper without disturbing the wife and dog I’d have written a bloody good stream of consciousness article for your edification. Not even a middle of the night cup of tea could send my unwelcome party goers home so I just had to lay there and keep quiet and still.
I’m a bit into fashion. I think fashion is cyclical, what goes around comes around. These days I can’t afford much. If money were no object I’d be going for Armani and Boss with the occasional bit of Gucci and Prada thrown in. A man’s clothes should be simple, unfussy and well made. I can’t be doing with needless buttons and fussy paraphernalia but plenty of pockets for man things. I love a good pair of shoes. Traditional and rugged in design. Recently I’ve been getting my clothes gear from a bloke on the market at knock down prices. I love browsing the Vintage clothes shops, like I said what goes around comes around. I remember when the Chopper was released by Raleigh bikes on an unsuspecting British public. Robert whatsisname over the road had one. He had everything. The first version the handlebars were just fastened by a bolt to the cross bar. Consequently the cow horn handlebars ( see t-shirt for illustration) worked themselves loose resulting in some unforeseen road accidents. Raleigh then released a version where the handlebars were welded.
John Steinbeck writing about Robert Capa – An extract from A Russian Journal with photographs by Robert Capa – published by Penguin
“Capa has one curious quality. He will buy a lighter, but as soon as it runs out of fluid he puts it aside and never uses it again. The same is true of fountain-pens. When they run out of ink, he never fills them. A pencil he will use until the point breaks, and then it too is laid aside, and he will buy another pencil, but he will never sharpen a pencil. I flinted and filled his lighters, sharpened all his pencils, filled his pen, and got him generally ready to face the world again.”
Robert Capa writing about John Steinbeck
“My four cameras, used to wars and revolutions, are disgusted , and every time I click them something goes wrong. Also I have three Steinbecks instead of one.
My days are long and I begin with the morning Steinbeck”
USSR. Russia. Stalingrad. August 1947. – Robert Capa
Today’s good news is that Donald Trump is not coming to London amid fears of mass protests. The gobshite has shit it ! Neshed it. Chicken ! Yella ! Not only is he a gobshite but he’s a coward as well. In a way I’m a bit disappointed. It’s a long time since we had a really good demonstration. Not since the Poll Tax Riots in fact. A Donald Trump visit would fetch everyone out; the Communists, the Anarchists, the Gays, the Lesbians, the Blacks, the disabled, the Punks, fetch everyone ! Frankly I don’t think the Authorities could handle it. The whole route from Heathrow to the centre of London would be lined and the cost to the police would be astronomical. In fact I reckon our Prime Minister has been on the phone to the big orange twat, “Hello is that Donald Trump ? Do you mind awfully if you don’t come to London after all ? To be honest Donald I’ve got a lot on my plate at the moment what with the NHS in crisis an all “.
I found myself watching a programme on TV this week. Like ya do when you’re waiting for your tea. It was the actress Miriam Margolyes ( she’s found herself a nice little job hasn’t she ) travelling around the American South visiting places. One old bloke she talked to told her how God had spoke to him the other day and God had said “Trump he’s ma man”. I nearly choked on my own teeth ! If anyone tells you that they believe God is on their side then do a runner. I’ve been to New York four times and Washington once and I loved them. Even so I can’t really say I’ve seen America can I, but what struck me about America was its contradictions. I mean I was in the hotel room and on the TV was the film Leon by Luc Besson. In the film there’s a tacit implication that the girl Mathilda is having an affair, even though she’s twelve, with Leon the hit man. Now what was interesting was that bit in the film had been erased out for the American audience which actually made it more implicit not less but hey”. So that’s ok but a block from the hotel there’s a video store and at the back of the shop you could buy porn videos of people shitting on each other. I don’t get it ?
Why anyone wants to paint the word “cock” on a brick wall is beyond me but you find these things on a walk.
Ok so it’s time to get back to some street photography. The street is accessible and immediate. I was in London a couple of years ago. I’d been tramping the streets all day. I was on Oxford St. The sun was going down and the winter light was fantastic. I noticed this bloke in red across the road collecting for the homeless charity Shelter. There’s been a lot of talk about homelessness over this Christmas period. There’s something about this shot that I love. It’s the young woman on the right walking towards me. The look on her face is classic. I love it when someone engages with me and the camera.
Gimme Shelter ? A classic Rolling Stones track ……..” It’s just a shot away”
We’re lucky to have a park just up the road. It’s great for walking the dog and meeting other dog owners. This car park is frequented by walkers, lovers, cannabis smokers, drug users and sundry other groups. This car has a Police Aware sticker on it and a load of charred tools in the boot. To be honest I’m surprised the tools are still there but possibly there’s a hidden CCTV camera focused on it. Maybe you wouldn’t expect it but the estate I live on, from which this park is accessed, on the face of it is a quite well to do above average income bracket private housing estate. Yet we have two people from this estate who’ve recently took the lives of another. I hesitate using the word ‘murderer’ because that would almost presume planned pre-meditation and these things are never as the media would have us believe ? The first was a fight in town which went horribly wrong resulting in the victim falling back, banging his head and “it’s good night Vienna”. The second is a young girl who suicidal deliberately drove into an oncoming car killing the driver. She survived.
The park is on the edge of town, so within minutes me and the dog can be in the countryside. In England you’re never really far away from the urban. I find walking tends to free the mind. Sounds daft but I do my best thinking when I’m not thinking but I never remember to take a notebook and pen with me. I advise my fellow photographers to carry a notebook and pen with them at all times as part of their kitbag.
A favourite tree
A few days ago I got notification of this exhibition Into the woods at the V & A http://www.bjp-online.com/2017/11/vandawoods/ I’ve been partial of making images of trees myself. There’s some quite nice ones where I live and I’ve got some favourite trees of my own. One of which is just off the M1 motorway near Nottingham. The one above is in our nearby woods. It’s seen better days as trees grow but I’m interested to watch how this one will develop or not ?
Occasionally people sleep out in the woods. I once met a man who’d set up a tent and fire and was spending the day getting some peace and quiet away from a noisy neighbour in the flat below. Not far from this structure some local schoolkids are brought out from the classroom to spend the afternoon having fun learning to be outside. It’s called the Forest Schools initiative. When I was a kid I spent hours in the woods. These days kids don’t play in the woods. I once overheard a young girl tell her friends she wouldn’t ever go up into the woods because it was full of paedophiles, like they were hiding behind every tree. I don’t think I knew what a paedophile was until I was well over twenty.
The above images were taken on one day while on a short walk with the dog.
Happy New Year my lovely readers.
I wish you peace and happiness
The Naked Ape
Back in 2011 I did a brief project which I later titled ‘The Naked Ape’. My initial thoughts were that I wanted to do a landscape project but a landscape project which explored my emotional response to the landscape. That is, the landscape which is close to my home and which most of my life I have at various times explored. As the project progressed it began to develop into an exploration of masculinity and male identity using the landscape to explore notions and issues central to masculinity coupled with feelings of emasculated vulnerability and exposure within that particular landscape. I was so pleased with this image that it being the first I’d made towards this project I wondered how I could better it. Still I progressed and made several more images towards the series on the theme. A few months after I had completed this somewhat personal project I was invited by a close friend to show this work at a presentation evening at Derby Quad. I think it’s fair to say it was reasonably well received by the audience but the Curator of Derby Quad more or less stated that images of the naked male were not the kind of thing suitable to exhibit at such a gallery. One wonders whether the images had been of the female form it would have been similarly treated ? Perhaps we will never know.
For the time being my Naked Ape project has been parked but I still occasionally make images which for me explore some of the same themes.
No Man is an Island