Archive for the ‘Photographers’ Category

Jane Evelyn Atwood

Thursday, December 19th, 2019

My daily e-mail from The Eye of Photography (l’Œil de la Photographie) today reminded me of a documentary photographer I’ve long been aware of with their post Jane Evelyn Atwood : On prostitution, Paris 1976 – 1979, which includes ten pictures from her forthcoming show at the Maison de la Photographie Robert Doisneau from 25 January to 21 April 2020.

If you are in Paris in those months, the short excursion to Gentilly just outside the southern boundary of the city will be worth making. I’ve not been there for some years, but found both the gallery and the place interesting, as well as our walk back into Paris itself, when rather than go to the nearest station (or catch a bus) we wandered the mile or two back to the Place d’Italie.

Atwood does have a web site, but it is perhaps curiously opaque, if not secretive and the only pictures I could see were small thumbnails of book covers. She is represented by Contact Press in the US, with a short bio and a web page that – at least to my browser – displays seven blank images, though in their achive you can see ‘War Never Ends‘, a feature with photographs by her and Lori Grinker.

The best on-line presentation of her work I’ve found is at l’Agence Vu, which has sections including her portfolio, portraits, books, awards and exhibitions as well as series which includes her remarkable documentary work on The Blind, Women in Prison, Land Mines and Haiti.

Homage or appropriation?

Friday, December 6th, 2019

As so often A D Coleman got me thinking with his look at The Waters of Our Time in his post Three Weeks in Bookworm Heaven (3), one of a short series about his recent 3 week residency on a Teti Photography Fellowship at the Institute of Art and Design at New England College in Manchester, NH, USA.

The book by photographer Thomas Roma and his writer and musician son Giancarlo T. Roma is very clearly based in its concept and design on the ground-breaking 1955 publication The Sweet Flypaper of Life in which photographs by Roy DeCarava were accompanied with a fictional text inspired by the images written by the poet Langston Hughes, who edited a larger selection to fit his writing. This was the first monograph by a Black photographer, and the publisher had been reluctant to publish it simply as a book of photographs but accepted the work with the much better-known poet’s name as co-author.

If you don’t have a copy of The Sweet Flypaper of Life you can get an idea of the book in another page turning video which shows not the original but the 1984 Howard University Press edition, and even the music is rather better and more appropriate than the Roma book linked above.

Not that Richie Havens version of the Jerry Merrick song “Follow” which accompanies that page-through is bad; it’s a great song but pacing the view of the book to it just doesn’t work, and the words are an unfortunate intrusion into the viewing of the pictures. Sentences from Merrick’s lyrics are also quoted at intervals in the text of the book – which accounts for the pacing of the video which more or less keeps up with there use. It’s quite hard to keep up with the pace reading the rest of the text, and I had to pause the video a few times both to look at the pictures and to read it.

Unfortunately, although there are some interesting images, too many fail to have much interest to me, and the juxtaposition with the images seldom seems to really make sense. Even the layout of the images and text, a feature of the original work, seems shoe-horned into an inappropriate format. Coleman has clearly studied the work at greater length and depth than I and in book form rather than the video, and it is hard to disagree with his conclusions.

Fortunately for those of us who lacked the foresight to buy the 1955 original of The Sweet Flypaper of Life, a near-facsimile edition with an afterword came out in 2018 and can still be bought new as well as second-hand.

You can also watch several short clips about De Carava on You Tube as well as a lengthy panel discussion of ‘The Sweet Flypaper of Life’ moderated by Thelma Golden, director and chief curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem -has an introduction to the book at around 19’12”, after which each of the panel, including A D Coleman, talks about their favourite image from the book. There is a set of his images on NPR, along with some links.

Robert Frank’s London

Friday, November 29th, 2019

I’ve long been an admirer of Robert Frank’s pictures taken in London, and you can see a fine selection of these in the feature Extraordinary Black And White Photographs Of London In The Early 1950s.

There are at least two videos paging through the book London Wales on You Tube, and I recommend that by Алексей Гуменюк only because I think he is a better page-turner, though his commentary and the sound track perhaps add a certain charm – but you can turn the sound off if it annoys you. Of course if you have read my earlier thoughts on the book or otherwise bought it you can turn the pages yourself. It’s better.

Frank’s London is a city (and City) long lost, with men in bowler hats and men carrying sacks of coal, both enshrouded by the pea-soupers which the coal produced (and in the second part of the book, he goes to photograph the men who mined it.)

Thankfully those days of almost solid air in London are long gone, though I can just remember them. But appearances are deceptive and London’s air is still toxic, leading to huge amounts of miserable illness and an estimated almost 10,000 early deaths each year, with levels of pollutants typically well above the EU legal limits in many streets and schoolyards.

The City too has changed, though still equally toxic. We no longer have an Empire – it had already begun to disappear when Frank coughed his way through those streets, but neo-colonialism has replaced colonialism, and many of the world’s most toxic companies – for example in mining – are still London based, and the City is the money laundering capital of the world.


Wednesday, November 20th, 2019

Michael Schmidt (1945-2014) published his book ‘Berlin-Wedding‘ back in 1978 and it was soon recognised as something of a classic. Long out of print has now been republished by Koenig Books.

You can read more about it in a typically thoughtful post by Jörg M. Colberg on Conscientious, Berlin-Wedding (and the rest of West Germany). Colberg grew up in West Germany and his writing about the book very much reflects that.

Like Schmidt (who was born in the same year as me, though in a different country) I was impressed by the work of the US New Topographics, particularly Robert Adams and Lewis Balz, and the 1975 show with its subtitle ‘Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape‘. Impressed enough to go to a workshop with Balz around 1980. It was an interesting experience – not least for the other photographers I met there, including Peter Goldfield – but perhaps in line with the photography, rather cool and strangely impersonal.

It’s an influence that shows in some of my work, perhaps most obviously in some of the pictures in my ‘German Indications‘, (see the preview there) though I found it a little too arid for my tastes. As perhaps did Schmidt, although a more rigorous follower of the NT approach, with a second group of pictures in the book of people in their homes.

Balz was also almost exactly my age – like Schmidt – and also like Schmidt died in 2014. I didn’t find Balz the easiest person to get on with (and rather put my foot in it by pointing out that the page proofs he was looking through for his Park City handled the highlights better than his silver gelatine prints) but found him very interesting lecturing about the other photographers he was associated with, including several I was previously unaware of, particularly Chauncey Hare, another photographer – like Schmidt – of people in their domestic interiors.

It isn’t easy to write about Hare on-line, as although you can buy a couple of books with his pictures in, he has resisted putting his pictures on-line and refused me permission to reproduce any when I wanted to write about him some years ago. I ended up with publishing just a short unillustrated note.

Copies of the first edition of Berlin-Wedding now sell for over £200, so at around £30 if you shop around the re-issue is perhaps a bargain. Though not so much a bargain as the copy of Chauncey Hare’s Interior America that Colberg picked up for $1. I think it is still the best book about Hare, and secondhand copies are generally reasonably priced if not quite such bargains.

Daido Moriyama’s Desire

Monday, November 18th, 2019

I’ve long been a fan of Daido Moriyama, and also of Photo District News (PDN), which was required reading back when I was paid to write about photography on the web for a US-owned web company, and whose web site remains on my list of sites to visit when I have a spare moment. The magazine is still available in print – and you can also subscribe for a digital edition, but you can sign up for free to read the articles on the web site, which include Daido Moriyama’s Street Photography Advice Sounds Sexy (and It Works) which I found a few days ago thanks to a shorter post on PDNPulse.

One of the thicker blocks on my overloaded bookshelves is Provoke: Between Protest and Performance, published in 2016 and I think my ‘Book of the Year’ (and now selling used on Amazon for four times what I paid for it.)

Eikoh Hosoe takes a picture at Alcatraz in Bielsko-Biala, Poland, 2005

Moriyama in 1961 became assistant to Eikoh Hosoe who I was privileged to meet in Poland in 2005. In 1968 and 1969, together with Takuma Nakahira, Takahiko Okada, Yutaka Takanashi, and Kôji Taki he produced the three issues of the magazine ‘Provoke’ around which the book is based. Since then he has produced so much more – and you can see just a little on his web site.

The article on PDN is an excerpt from his latest book, Daido Moriyama: How I Take Photographs, written by Moriyama and Takeshi Nakamoto. It stresses the need to be open to experiences and to really look at things and react to them. Like him I’m a strong believer in the importance of “desire”.

Underground Photography

Thursday, November 7th, 2019

Like many photographers who work in London I spend too much of my time underground, travelling around from place to place. Taking the Underground is usually the fastest way to get around London other than riding a bike as traffic congestion so often holds up buses and taxis (which are prohibitive unless you work in advertising or fashion.)

Taking my bike to London is possible, but adds complications like finding a safe place to lock it up (and nowhere in London is really safe from bicycle theives) and, particularly with marches where I may end up taking pictures a mile or more from where I started, having to walk back and find it. So usually I rely on buses when I’m not in any hurry or the tube when I am and the journey is too long to walk.

I decided to photograph on buses.

Back around 1990 I first saw the pictures taken on the Underground by Paul Baldesare, who became a friend and one I’ve shown work together with on numerous occasions. The first was a show at the Museum of London and as Paul already had some fine work on the tube, I decided to make a set of images for it of people on London’s buses. Paul’s early work was in black and white, but later he went on to photograph the tube in colour.

Another photographer who has photographed underground for a long period of time is Bob Mazzer, and you can find several features on his work on Spitalfields Life (there are links at the bottom of that page to the others.) His pictures are more varied than Baldesare’s and are the pictures of a regular daily traveller recording odd moments and unusual scenes.

Published now by Hoxton Mini Press. is a book of the work of photographer Mike Goldwater, London Underground 1970-1980, and you can see a fine selection of pictures on the BBC web site feature Candid moments on the London Underground.

And for a final mention, Stefan Rousseau, whose more recent pictures appeared in a Metro feature, Photographer secretly documents people’s sleepy commutes on London’s underground in April 2019.

Of course there are many other photographers who have photographed on the London Underground, including some well-known names, and several photographers I know whose projects I haven’t mentioned, along with the many thousands who have posted their phone images to Instagram and elsewhere. And of course there are other cities and underground networks. But the examples I’ve linked to are some that have particularly interested me and that I hope readers of this post will enjoy. Apologies to all those not mentioned!

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

Stuart Heydinger dies

Monday, November 4th, 2019

A few days ago I wrote a post linking to Brian Harris’s blog post about an epic scoop by Stuart Heydinger, then photographing for The Times who apparently not only managed to stage a handshake between Vivian Fuchs and Edmund Hillary at the South Pole in 1958 but get his pictures back days before the other photographers present.

The post by Harris included extensive written comments from Heydinger, who Harris managed to find living in Germany, age 92.

On Saturday evening the Guardian online published a gallery of pictures, The photojournalism of Stuart Heydinger, edited by Greg Whitmore under the text :

The Observer’s chief photographer from 1960-66, has died aged 92. Here we look back at his outstanding photography that captured some of the key moments of 20th century history.

But perhaps the most interesting pictures in the set are not those of great events or famous men or women, but two of French men in Pyrénées-Atlantiques in the 1970s and a girl collecting water in Algeria. It’s also interesting that the set also includes an image of a lonely flooded pylon, one of a set of “eerily beautiful, quiet images which were never published” taken in 1960 during flooding around Lewes in East Sussex.

Along with the photographs is a page from Heydinger’s travel diary for May 1963- August 1964 detailing around 55 journeys by air, sea, rail and road, an exhausting schedule that took him around Europe, to the USA and Borneo as well as to Antartica and the Middle East.

Like others, I’ve long questioned the role of the heavyweight news photographers travelling internationally around the globe, jumping from country to country and story to story, often actually manufacturing rather than simply recording the news. And there are elements in his work that support those criticisms, not of him but of the industry which employed him. There is certainly no doubting that Heydinger was a heavyweight who took up that role and made and reported history.

Shot in Soho

Thursday, October 31st, 2019

It’s a while since I’ve been to the Photographers’ Gallery, which once used to be a regular place to call. I was a member for many years, probably more than 30, and used to attend most of the openings there, as well as dropping in occasionally when I was in town, perhaps to have a coffee, lock and the pictures and browse in the bookshop, as well as attend some of the lectures and workshops that took place there.

Back in the old days the gallery had an extensive library, mostly I think donated by photographers and run by volunteers, and it was a good place to visit and study books that were no longer available or too expensive to buy.

Back in the 1980s I was a member of a photographers group that had regular meetings there mainly looking at work that others had brought in, and some well-known photographers would drop in and show a portfolio and comment on our work. It was a part of the gallery’s education programme that that was needed for their charity status, but one that their education officer found hard to handle, and was very pleased to be able to drop in 1987.

I also worked at one time with a group set up to produce educational material there, getting some time release from the college where I was working. I’m not sure that we ever produced any material but it was interesting and fun to do.

There was a different atmosphere to the place in the old days. I used to go to the bookshop or café not just to look at books and drink coffee but for intelligent conversation about photography both with staff and other users. This just doesn’t seem to happen any more.

In those days the gallery was in Great Newport St, just a short walk from where I often find myself with some spare time in Trafalgar Square. Nowadays I tend to go into the National Gallery or the National Portrait Gallery instead. Since 2009 The Photographers’ Gallery is now a little further to go in Ramillies St, but mostly I gave up going because so many shows there held little interest for me.

I continued being a member for some years, even though I only went very occasionally until one year the cost of membership increased significantly for me and others of advanced years when they removed concessionary membership rates. Of course I could have afforded it, though I’m not rich, but the jump in cost made me think whether it was worth it.

What got me thinking about this was an on-line post on the British Journal of Photography web site. Again I was a BJP subscriber for many years, when it was a weekly trade journal and as well as publishing some well-written reviews of equipment and exhibitions had a useful listing of exhibitions. Then the BJP was an essential guide to what was happening in photography in the UK, but at some point it morphed into a monthly doing what other photo magazines already did, often better, and sometimes mainly featuring work which was of little interest to me. There seemed little point in continuing my subscription.

Of course it does still publish some interesting articles on good work, and the article I read on the web site by Marigold Warner, Anders Peterson on Soho, Cafe Lehmitz, and intention is a fine example. 18 images by Peterson are in the show ‘ Shot in Soho‘, along with work by William Klein and several others at the Photographers Gallery, London until 09 February 2019 (more pictures, some rather boring on the press release) and I will be finding time to go along and see the show, probably after 17.00 when entry is free. Usually the gallery closes at 18.00 but stays open until 20.00 on Thursdays.

South Pole and Back

Tuesday, October 29th, 2019

If you’ve not already done so, make sure you read Brian Harris’s post Stuart Heydinger-the South Pole and Back posted on his Brianharrisphotographer’s Blog a few days ago. It’s a post with interesting memories about legendary press photographers of the previous century, particularly Bill Warhurst, whose epic story about Stuart Heydinger is retold by Harris and the photographer. Heydinger’s photograph of a 1958 meeting between Dr Vivian Fuchs ( later to become Sir ) and Sir Edmund Hillary at the South Pole shows something of the initiative, planning, bravery and sometimes a little luck that went into what became a grand scoop, with Heydinger able to get his pictures of the meeting he had managed to set up back to The Times in London days or longer before other photographers present at the event.

In his research, Harris managed to track down Heydinger, now 92 and living in Germany and the article includes some lengthy comments written by him.

After recounting that story, Harris goes on to recount his own later experiences photographing on separate occasions both Hillary on Snowden on the 25th anniversary of the Everest climb, and making a much more formal portrait of Fuchs, both taken for The Times.

The piece is an interesting comment on the old adage about photojournalism, “f8 and be there”. Being in the right place at the right time sometimes takes and incredible amount of planning.

Brick Lane

Thursday, October 10th, 2019

I took one look when Paul Trevor began to speak at the launch of his new book Once Upon a Time in Brick Lane‘ last night, and decided against trying to take pictures in the dimly lit bar. Then a few seconds later I walked across to where I’d left my camera bag with friends and took out the Olympus OMD EM5II and thought “eff it, I might as well give it a try“.

I knew I’d set the camera earlier in the day on ISO AUTO, with a maximum ISO of 5000, but since I only had the 14-150mm f4-5.6 on the camera (28-300 equiv) it wasn’t really fast enough. Though since it was underexposing by a stop or two, the pictures were really taken at ISO10-20,000.

I’d been at the back of the room when the presentation began, and couldn’t easily get much closer, and there was a long table with drinks on it in my way. I’d put the camera on Shutter Priority, and set the shutter speed to 1/40th. The good news is that although I had to work at focal lengths between the equivalent of 60mm and 150mm, none of the images show any camera shake – the in-body stabilisation seems very effective.

The bad news is that with this lens autofocus is poor in such low light, with a lot of hunting at the longer focal lengths. Paul is a pretty mobile speaker – I think in part a nervous gesture as like many photographers he isn’t really happy speaking in public, and the camera could just not keep him in focus. I had to wait until it managed to focus and take a picture sharply before it lost sharpness again.

A second piece of bad news, I think evident even in these small pictures, is that the image quality is not great. I’m sure the Nikon D810 would have done rather better under these conditions. Working in normal daylight there isn’t a very noticeable difference.

But the Olympus scores on noise. I’ve not bothered to use the silent shutter mode (which comes with some problems) but the mechanical shutter is one of the quietest I’ve use, hardly noticeable in most situations. The D750 and D810 aren’t particularly noisy cameras, but the shutter sound does become noticeable in quiet locations.

If you’ve not already bought the book, I suggest you waste no time in doing so. As it states on the Hoxton Mini Press web site:

‘Paul Trevor, one of the great unsung heroes of British documentary photography, spent many years during the 70s and 80s capturing life on Brick Lane, London’s most iconic East End street. Published here for the very first time, these images, full of humour, grit, love and surprise, capture a vibrant time before the area went through dramatic social change.’

As I commented on the publication of Paul Trevor’s ‘Like you’ve never been away‘ a couple of years ago:

‘I’ve always regarded Paul Trevor as the most interesting of the whole batch of British photographers who became known in the mid 1970s at exactly the time I was myself coming to photography, and there were some other impressive talents, some of whom are very much better known. Some were rather better at self-publicity.’

It was a well-attended launch and it was good to meet a few old friends there, including some I don’t see too often, including of course Paul himself, but after his speech I didn’t stay long, but walked out into Brick Lane, fortified by a couple of glasses of red wine and still with my camera around my neck. It was a little brighter on the street, and as I walked down to Aldgate East underground I took a few pictures. Nothing of any significance but I think they give a good idea of how Brick Lane has changed since Paul Trevor made his pictures here. A few more will appear on My London Diary, probably in a month or so.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.