I could pick from any number of Diane Arbus’ works but for now let’s just go with this one.
Five Quotes from Gary Winogrand which teach us about photography:
- Photography is about finding out what can happen in the frame. When you put four edges around some facts, you change those facts.
- You have a lifetime to learn technique. But I can teach you what is more important than technique; how to see; learn that and all you have to do afterwards is press the shutter.
- Photographers mistake the emotion they feel while taking the photo as a judgement that their photo is good.
- For me the true business of photography is to capture a bit of reality (whatever that is ) on film …if later the reality means something to someone else, so much the better.
- I like to think of photography as a two way act of respect. Respect for the medium, by letting it do what it does best, describe. And respect for the subject, by describing it as it is. A photograph must be responsible for both.
The BBC finally got around to talking about British Photography. It’s not taken them that long really. They’ve just given us The History of British Photography presented by notable sports photographer Eamonn McCabe, a very potted history of the medium in three parts. To quote the preview gumpf below !
” Eamonn McCabe explores the development of the art of photography in the UK, beginning by looking at how science and technology allowed pioneering photographers like Roger Fenton and Julia Margaret Cameron to create a new art form in the 1800s.”
It was actually quite good and no doubt informative for those mildly interested in the subject or those whose thirst for knowledge is never ending. It was great to see my University Professor Tutor and now friend Paul Hill MBE ( awarded the MBE for services to British Contemporary photography ) sadly not talking about his own photography but that of landscape photographer Fay Godwin. Godwin sadly no longer with us attended some of Paul’s Workshop weekends at The Photographers Place, Bradbourne, Derbyshire back in the 80’s. I wish I’d have attended some of them but I neither had the courage, confidence in my own work or, and perhaps more importantly, the finances. My Dad probably wouldn’t have given me a lift there either even though it was just down the road.
Martin Parr who also attended Paul’s Workshops back in the day was another notable image maker on this programme. He’s like the Banksy of the photographic world by which I mean virtually everyone knows has heard of him. Parr’s pretty much turned himself into a Brand and you can bet your sweet ass that whenever there’s a programme about photography Parr will feature in it somewhere in it. You’d be forgiven for thinking Contemporary Photography begins and ends with Parr. I often wonder what Tony Ray-Jones would be doing now if he were still alive.
I was fortunate enough to be in London when Parr presented his New Brighton work at the Photographers Gallery round about 1986 ( yes I’m that bloody old ) and I managed to somehow get into the Evening Private Viewing glass of wine nibble of cheese soiree bash. Parr who was a lot younger than he is now also gave a little talk followed by a question and answer session. Some BBC Executives turned up and gave his some flak concerning the invasive nature of his working methods. I seem to remember making some comment in defence of Parr’s work to the assembled throng but whose going to listen to a twenty year old Northern oik dressed in bumper boots, jeans and Harrington jacket when you’re a Beeb Exec and pursuing a successful media career in keeping the population happy. Even now I can’t help thinking if these middle class cheese eating munters had concentrated on making sure their own BBC house was in order Jimmy Saville et al the country might not be so ringing it’s hands right now.
I used to love going to the Photographers Gallery on Great Newport St back in those days whenever I was in London staying at my brother’s place. You could always get a decent bowl of salad and fresh orange juice but more importantly the toilets were always clean in which to enjoy a good dump in a morning before setting off into the West End. Somewhere in my negative folder I’ve got a self portrait sat on, taken using my OM1-N on self timer hung from the back of the toilet door coat hook. Must dig that one out sometime.
Right that’s it, I’m off to do some sewing !
Caravan Diary 23rd August 2016
We walked on the beach all the way round the bay to Filey. I left the cameras back at the caravan. I knew that i’d regret it because there’s always images to be found out there. I wanted a hands free day though, just me, the wife and the dog. Was it Winogrand said in an interview something like ‘ there are no pictures when I don’t have my cameras’ ?
Over at Filey the Lifeguard Station was quite busy. Two youngsters were sat on the front with their feet in the ‘Weaver Fish Bucket’. I was stung by a Weaver fish in the sea at Scarborough back during the weekend of August 16th 1977. I remember this because a weaver fish sting is extremely painful and the death of Elvis Presley the same time will always be associated by me with the sting of a weaver fish. Apparently they came over from the Continent during the hot summer of 1976 and it appears they’ve been on our shores ever since. Funny that we’re on the East Coast which voted overwhelmingly for Brexit. Is it me who sees a little irony here ? Weaver Fish Out. The lifeguard told me they’d had ten that day ! …………..ouch !
This little bastard burrows in sand waiting to sting unsuspecting children paddling in the sea !
The wife thought I’d put a fiver in my pocket and I thought she had. Neither of us had but fortunately I had just enough change for two mugs of tea. The Cornettos would have to be missed.
We’ve got some neighbours now to the right of us. They’re from Preston and probably a little older than us. He’s heavily tattooed, on his legs, all down his arms and back with blue stars on his bald head. He’s been struggling to get a signal on the caravan TV, the wife likes her TV he tells me.
24th August 2016
The heavily tattooed man from Preston, Phil has spent the best part of the last two days trying to get his TV working for his wife who looks to have had a stroke so can’t move around much. The telly is her lifeline. I’m a helpful person so I get involved. I’m a little bit reticent because I don’t want to get in above my current understanding of caravan television setups. Besides my man from Preston looks like he could get a bit fierce if I unwittingly punch a hole in the side of his caravan. Maybe it’s the tattoos ? In trying to solve the problem he’s been off to Filey and bought a TV off some bloke in a house for forty quid and a new Universal Remote from the supermarket. All I suspect somewhat unnecessary. After a bit of prodding and poking not to mention some thought I find the booster box in the cupboard of his caravan, switch it on and suggest they coax connect their outside aerial into their TV via the booster box. Hey presto it worked and ten minutes later Phil’s wife comes round to thank me profusely, her face lit up like a Christmas tree. They were unaware of this booster box in the cupboard.
MA Photography Notes
Susan Sontag – On Photography
Photography Fails for Five Reasons
- A photograph is both a piece of time and space. By including or excluding things its arbitrary borders both create and break relationships. The temporal and spatial dislocation results in social reality being presented as small discontinuous particles.
- A photograph only shows us the surface, so it has many meanings and encourages us to deduce or intuit what the reality was like.
- Photography can only give us knowledge of the world if we accept the world as we see it. But this is the opposite of understanding which starts from not accepting the world as it looks. Photographs have a use in giving us a mental picture of things but they always hide more than they reveal.
- While photographs can arouse conscience this is only a semblance of ethical or political knowledge because it is always sentimental ( whether it is cynical or humanist )
- By duplicating the world in such a comprehensive way it has made the world seem more available that it really is.
Notes from my MA in Photography
Cultural Sniping – The Art of Transgression – Jo Spence – Routledge London and New York 1995
Questioning Documentary Practice
” for it is important to understand that whenever there is a photographer and a photographed, wherever there is a story to be told, unless the photography or an exchange of knowledge is reciprocal then there will always be an imbalance of power. What I mean by this is that if a documentary practise involves only the exposure or revelation of one party, then it is an unfair transaction. I am not suggesting that all photography be done on a reciprocal basis, but that we mark out the territory as problematic.”
” Equally a photographer ‘takes’ pictures of someone which are then in turn used for a purpose outside the control of the subject ( matter) photographed who is not consulted on their use or asked to put a personal story or text with them. This means that the questions of cultural identity will always be imposed from outside, and we will be forced to collude in such a tying down process because of the poverty of ideas of how to invent and define ourselves. In all documentary photography, where people are represented, the questions of identity is paramount” – Jo Spence