Internet Café – London

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Understanding a photograph

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A new camera won’t improve my photography. I am under no illusions. A change from an SLR to a Rangefinder might change the way I look at something through the viewfinder. It might even change my approach to the medium but it won’t improve my photography. I’m not saying it can’t be improved upon. Absolutely not. On the contrary. I’m my own worst critic and that’s how it should be. Sometimes I look at my images and……well ? There’s a difference between want and need. I don’t need a new camera. I can manage without one. I just fancy a change, that’s all.

What might improve my photography is my continued attempts to understand the subject by reading around and within it. Books by authors whose capacity to think about things and elucidate their thoughts far better than I can. I’m currently reading Understanding a Photograph – John Berger (he died recently) –  Edited and introduced by Geoff Dyer (he wrote a good book on photography called The Ongoing Moment.

Here’s a paragraph which resonates somewhat with my own thoughts on photography being viewed as fine art and particularly with this continued assessment by those supposed photography experts who seldom get beyond discussing whether a photograph is well composed or not.

“We must rid ourselves of a confusion brought about by continually comparing  photography with the fine arts. Every handbook on photography talks about  composition. The good photograph is the well‐composed one. Yet this is true only in so  far as we think of photographic images imitating painted ones. Painting, is an art of  arrangement: therefore it is reasonable to demand that there is some kind of order in what is arranged. Every  relation between forms in a painting is to some degree adaptable to the painter’s purpose. This is not the case with photography (Unless we  include those absurd studio works in which the photographer arranges every detail of  his subject before he takes the picture). Composition in the profound, formative sense  of the word cannot enter into photography.”

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Over the next few weeks I will be adding my Photography Reading List to a new page on this Blog and I’ll welcome suggestions from readers for more.

Do More – Say Less

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Well a  very hopeful and brave New Year to all my followers and random readers and a special warm welcome to my 300th follower of this blog. Although  I don’t like the term ‘follower’ very much. Jesus had followers and I ain’t no Jesus.

I’ve not been on here for a while. Before Christmas my Laptop Hard Disk crashed. Fortunately, friend, neighbour and computer geek helped me get up and running in a relatively painless manner and saved me some cash in the process. A new hard disk in the same laptop against a brand new laptop at a fraction of the cost. What was disconcerting about the event was that it  brought home to me just how dependent  on having a computer and being attached to the World Wide Web I’ve become. From having to pay bills on line to just being in touch with friends and a multitude of other things.  It’s a dependency I can’t say I’m happy with oh no.

I’ve resisted the urge to do a Review of 2016. I haven’t got that much to say about it that probably hasn’t been said already. Like a lot of people I know, for me personally,  it was a pretty bum year and I’m glad to see the back of it. My father in law passed away at the end of September after an 18 month illness. Much of 2016 was spent helping the family to look after him.That’s him in the above photo which I took back in 2009 for my project on Englishness. He died of what we categorize here in the UK as an “Industrial Disease”. Actually it was Mesothelioma, commonly known as Asbestosis. As a Pattern Maker for the local Iron Foundry he’d worked with asbestos back in the late 70’s early 80’s. Doing a job he loved to provide for his family but a job which eventually would kill him. I’m glad I made the effort to make this image of him and his wife in their back garden, one foot on the path and one foot on the English soil.

On the subject of English soil I didn’t vote for this country to leave Europe. I didn’t believe it was in the nation’s best interests, economically or socially. Certainly not for the majority of us anyway and I’ve not seen anything yet to change my mind. Now the deed has been done and we’re waiting for a soft, hard or semi erect Brexit I hope, very much hope that it will all turn out alright in the end and I’m wrong in my opinion. I suspect we’ll not know for about  30 years by which time I’ll either be gone or too old to give a shit. One of the men to blame will be Nigel Farage and he’ll be long gone too. When Trump won the election Farage went over to congratulate him and have his photo taken with him. Like Trump, Farage is one of those people who abuses anyone who doesn’t agree with him; a political bully.

Meanwhile over in the USA !

What is there to say about Donald Trump that hasn’t already been said ? There’s a part of me that thinks he’ll not actually achieve much, if anything at all. He’ll be the most ineffectual American President in history. He strikes me as a dodgy business man who’ll say anything to anyone in order to sell something. I’d be interested to hear and see him perform in front of an all black American audience in one of the Southern States and compare that to an all Hispanic audience. Might be alright as a business man running your own Companies but quite different as President of the good ole US of A surrounded by lots of intelligent bureaucrats who have all sorts of tricks up their sleeves to delay policies that don’t fit. Here in the UK we have the Civil Service for all that malarkey. You’ve got to laugh at the Democrats though haven’t you. I mean if they didn’t write dodgy emails in the first place then the Russians wouldn’t have found them to leak. Give someone enough rope and eventually they’ll hang themselves which is kinda what I hope will happen to Trump.

So in 2017 I’m very much hoping to curtail my dependency on computers and not worry about all those things like world politics that I can do absolutely nothing about. My New Year’s resolution ? Do More – Say Less.

A brave and hopeful New Year to you all.

 

Breugel Town Review

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I’m happy to report that my self published book Breugel Town has been reviewed in latest issue of Flip magazine the group of which I am a member and not a bad review it is too. I’ve provided a link for those of you wishing to investigate further.

About the Magazine

fLIP is published three times per year and each issue has an overarching theme. Our primary aim is to showcase work from our membership of over 500 photographers, and to engage readers in a wider dialogue concerning diverse approaches to photography. The magazine is funded by member subscription fees and contains no advertising. fLIP offers a truly independent voice for photographic practice in London!

Frozen in time is of the essence

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I was born of woman. I am of my time. I had a beginning and I will have an end. I will join the millions of people in dust who have gone before me.  How do I know I am here without those around me to validate my existence. To say this is you. You are here right now. You are of this time. Solipsism is the philosophy which believes that the only thing I can be sure of is that I exist, or something like that. If I were to have my body frozen cryogenic-ally at death or just before to be ‘reborn’ in the future then what will that future look like ? What state will my body be in ?  How will I live ? How will I survive ? Who will validate my existence ? What will I remember and who will be interested in the life that I once had if I do remember ? What will shape my existence and my opinions ? Who will I love and who will love me ? What will I be without those that I love and care for around me? Who will say hello to me ?

I am of my time !

Walking away in silence

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Somewhere in my postcard collection I have a photograph similar to this one. A couple are sat at a table in a cafe but only the face of the female we can see. She is smiling and it’s clear that the man with his back to us, the viewer, is amusing. His company is being enjoyed.  It’s a photo that’s intrigued me for many years. I want to know what the man looks like. I can only imagine.
This image I’ve had for a while now. I’ve felt guilty for taking it. I feel like I’ve intruded on a personal moment. There’s intimacy and shared knowledge between these two. The young lady looks anguished, concerned, sad? There cannot be a human being who does not identify with this look, this emotion. Perhaps  that is why I snatched the image. Something about this touched my inner self. I saw myself in both him and her. I took the photo, there on Westminster Bridge, and as I look more closely I see two people across the road who look like man and woman walking away from each other. Don’t walk away in silence. Touch the void between you. Feel it, sense it. I took the image and walked away quickly perhaps with past sadness’ beginning to rise up in my soul from where I had buried them. It’s not you, it’s me !