Friday, 28 October 2011

behind the gare St Lazare...a bargin at €180,000

Henri Cartier-Bresson
If you have a spare €180,000 then this rare print could be yours. Christie's are auctioning Henri Cartier-Bresson's print next month. The image was taken in 1932 and the last print was made in 1946. It is this print that is going under the hammer. I am unsure of the printer but it was unlikely to have been the great man at the enlarger. The reason that I wanted to bring this to your attention, other then the fact that I did not want to you to miss out on placing your bid, is that it is one of the few images that he cropped. HCB often printed with the black borders around the edge of the print so that the viewer knew that they were seeing the same vista as the photographer. The reason for the cropping on this occasion is due to the railing of the fence that you can see below.

Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again. - Henri Cartier-Bresson

Saturday, 22 October 2011

London Protesters

Nicholas Brewer
Nicholas Brewer
I have just returned from the protests outside St Paul's Cathedral in central London. The tented community is peaceful and the crowd are friendly. The above image indicates how the majority feel about the police although some of the idiots speaking were less than supportive. Occasions like this do give a voice to some who are clearly speaking from a narrow agenda and the usual misfits were well represented. One speaker in particular seemed to have a personal vendetta against Paris Hilton. While she is an easy target for those feeling resentful of the inequality of wealth it is hardly her fault that she was born into a wealthy family. While there are banners galore moaning about globalization and the oppressed masses there seemed to be a lot of protesters drinking Starbuck's coffee naturally I did not feel inclined to point out the irony of this. There were many photographers and news crews all providing Tarquin and Victoria with their fifteen minutes of fame. I am not absolutely certain there were protesters of this name but I could hear many speaking with an educated and refined English accents. Everyone in the free world has the right to protest regardless of their background. If you are going along to support them maybe you could take them some deodorant, a week is along time without the comforts of home.
Nicholas Brewer

Monday, 17 October 2011

life through a mirror

Welcome to the 40th edition.

Gary Winograd
Teaching young people does provide you with a mirror of what you were like when you were that age. It is not long before you start identifying your friends in this new found looking glass. The group is a mixture of hormones, shyness and the cocky swagger of youth.  There is not an exact copy of your friends just characteristics or similarities that may remind you of your nearest and dearest. The photomontages made from old magazines that they produced this week were funny, irreverent and sensitive. As they leant a new skill and had an enjoyable experience it all went well. Naturally teaching is not just about having a good time but if this is included in a lesson then it helps to keep learners motivated and more likely to return. The arrogance of the young can help them to take risks and next time you see a boy racer you will be reminded of this.  You may recall that being aged between 16- 19 blessed you with the ability to think that you were 10 meters tall and bullet proof. Here is the balance that a lecturer is looking to maintain. Risk taking in a safe environment is a positive thing and is actively encouraged. A measured response to risks and the ability to understand what worked well and what needs improving. It reminded me that I need to come out of my comfort zone and make opportunities professionally and personally to accomplish my aims. The uncertainty of it all does make the heart bit a little faster and risk taking lets you know that you are alive.
I am currently reading 'dialogue with photography' by Paul Hill and Thomas Cooper. A great read of interviews conducted with legendary photographers like Paul Strand that describe his meetings with Alfred Stieglitz. For all of those who like to read and want to brush up on your photography history this is recommended.
Paul Strand
I think of myself as an explorer who has spent his life on a long voyage of discovery. Paul Strand - From Aperture article on Paul Strand.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

how to keep motivated in a long term project

Matthew Rolston
Long term projects are rewarding and provide the opportunity to learn not only about photography and your own practice but also the subject or subject matter depending on your project.  I am still working on the ghost signs which is a positive thing as a lot of work has gone into recording them and this is a good reason for doing it. The question now becomes is it a good enough reason on its own? I am acutely aware that the best results are achieved by sticking with something even when you doubt yourself. It is easy to start something and not finish it, any fool can do this. It takes determination and character to stick with something when the negative chatter between the ears gets to loud. The work has evolved into a history project and I am now blessed with knowledge about the bravest of graphic designers which is what sign painters whose work I am photographing were. Not only did they often have to design the logo for the smaller retailers but had to work out the spacing and typeface. This would not have been easy a hundred years ago without the aide of modern scaffolding and ready mixed paint.

Nicholas Brewer
This picture only shows half of the sign that I was hoping to capture and I was slightly disappointed that I could not see more from my vantage point on the balcony of a shopping centre. Nothing is ever wasted when you take your camera out. What this picture did give me is another ghost sign that I might have missed. If you look at the image about half way across you will see the number 2  at the bottom and again near the window ledge on the other side going left to right.

Nicholas Brewer
The latest photograph was taken from a window in the building of the picture above. You can work out my position from comparing the two.  Gibberd's Boots is one of my best ghost sign pictures so far but you can see that I persevered and kept hunting for the best spot to shoot my prey. Cold calling was required. I had to phone the office manager of the building that had the exact spot and explain what I needed to do. My experience is that if you have a pleasant way about you and are honest people will normally help you. This is also true for getting access to the balcony for the first image. Of course I did not have any money to pay them and I therefore only had about 10 minutes. I often spend a long time photographing each one, occasionally  photographing the same one at different times of the day, season and lighting to get the right picture. There were no such luxuries on Gibberd's Boots.
The Matthew Rolston picture is included along with a link to his website for no other reason that I love his work and wanted to share it with you.

Thank you for reading and happy hunting.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

What do you learn on a photography course?

Nicholas Brewer

It depends on which course you are on and how hungry you are for success. Learning the subject in a structured environment helps to ensure experience is gained with traditional methods of photography. The array of technical skills needed for learners to take good pictures needs time and patience. In addition college is a fun stimulating place that develops life skills and often provides a suitable pit stop from school to industry. Others feel that a college course is a waste of time and that you could learn what you need going straight to work. While true the lack of skills and jobs are the biggest challenge to over come. Assisting jobs have changed and they now demand a high level of digital skills. College provides the opportunity to get some work together and have a laugh doing it with new mates.
I have finished my final day of teaching this week and I am thinking about ideas for Tuesday. The students have had a good variety of photography and have definitely learnt useful advancements. It is a buzz teaching and gets the adrenalin going. While hard work and quite nerve racking at times, it is without doubt thrilling.
We had a look at some photomontages yesterday and I have included a few below for you to have a look at. The ghost sign above for Gibberd's Boots was taken on Tuesday and I am grateful to Raf who allowed me to take the picture from his office.
Thanks for reading
Peter Kennard