Archive for the ‘Photo Issues’ Category

Japanese hand colour

Wednesday, October 14th, 2020

Although I knew something about the history of Japan and of photography in the country in the nineteenth century, and had written a little about it and in particular the work of European photographers such as Felice Beato, the video in ‘How colorized photos helped introduce Japan to the world‘ from VOX which was featureed on Digital Photography Review with a useful introduction showed me much that I hadn’t previously known. It was particularly interesting to see the comparisons between some of the photographs and Ukiyo-e woodblock prints and paintings.

The introduction of photography led to redundancies among Ukiyo-e artists (as it did to miniature painters in Europe) and some found new employment using their skills in photographic studios hand colouring prints in a much more subtle manner than in other countries. Soon some of them were becoming photographers too and setting up their own studios. I haven’t read Photography in Japan 1853-1912 by Terry Bennett which the video credits, but it looks an interesting volume.

Japanese art was in the same period being taken back to the west and had a strong influence on many western artists, and I think largely through them on photography around the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the 20th century which can clearly be seen for example in some of the work exhibited by members of the Photo-Secession some of the best of whose work was published by Alfred Stieglitz in his fine magazine Camera Work.

Recent years have seen a new interest in hand-colouring of old pictures, now made much easier by digital means. It’s something that while it may add some life and a greater sense of reality to old photographs I find rather upsetting when applied to many well-known images. As a photographer I feel that there is a disrespect in changing what was a carefully considered black and white image into one in colour and I imagine the photographers turning in their graves at how their work is being done to their pictures.

It also bothers me because the digital recolouring is creating a false reality – as hand colouring could also do. For a long time we had on a mantelpiece a hand coloured picture of my wife sitting in a Manchester park wearing a red jumper; it had been hand-coloured and although the grass had been coloured in a fair approximation to its actual colour, her green jumper was not. It’s a trivial example, but what the colouring produces is false colour and fake reality. For most subjects it probably isn’t a great problem but it seems to me to undermine one of the fundamental aspects of photography, the physical link between subject and depiction. The camera with our help lies but it doesn’t invent.


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


The Power of Photography: Peter Fetterman

Monday, October 5th, 2020

Another set of ten pictures in the online series on the Peter Fetterman Gallery called The Power of Photography highlighting hope, peace and love in the world is now featured on ‘The Eye of Photography‘, and includes several images I don’t recall having seen before as well as some very familiar ones.

Along with the pictures are comments by Peter Fetterman, often very personal and usually perceptive. Photographers often despise gallery owners as mercenary parasites – and I think there is a great deal of truth in this – but many like Fetterman are knowledgeable about our medium and have a great love of it and the works they sell.

Selling photographs after all isn’t the easiest way to make a living – either as a gallerist or as a photographer. And while I think that the growth of the art market has had some unfortunate consequences for photography (and I think particularly of those huge boring decorative prints for corporate atriums a huge prices from rather untalented photographers – and the whole idea of limited editions) it has also supported many fine photographers. But if you want to buy prints to support photographers then where possible it makes sense to cut out the middlemen and buy direct – and you can do so on many photographers’ web sites – though those with gallery contracts are usually forbidden to do so.

You can see all the images in the series on the Peter Fetterman Gallery web site – when I looked a couple of days ago the latest posted was numbered CLXXII, which I make 172, and is a picture from 1950 by Arthur Leipzig, Chalk Games, New York City, looking down from a building at a group of boys and their varied chalking in the roadway between some parked cars. It’s a fine image from one of the many photographers to have emerged from the New York Photo League, which I’ve often written about.


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


Al Quds march – 28 Sept 2008

Monday, September 28th, 2020

Twelve years ago today, rather than sitting at home in front of a computer as I am today, still avoiding the virus, I was photographing one of the more contentious regular protests on the streets of London, the annual Al Quds Day march.

Al Quds is the Arabic name for the city of Jerusalem, literally meaning ‘The Holy One’ and in 1979 Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran announced the last Friday of the month of Ramadan as International Quds Day to express support for oppressed Muslims around the world and in particular to protest against the occupation of Palestine and the oppression of its people.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews opposed to Zionism took a leading role in the march

In the UK, a march through London takes place on the Sunday after the day itself, and is generally attended by several thousand people, mainly Shia Muslim families from mosques around the UK, but supported by many other groups, mainly Muslim but including some Jewish, pro-Palestinian and left-wing groups. This year because of the virus it was celebrated on Friday May 22 by a world-wide on-line event.

Back in 2008 the main groups opposing the march were Iranian opposition groups, along with a larger number of protesters from extreme right anti-Islamic groups, with just a small number of Zionist supporters of Israel. Police largely managed to keep the two sides apart while allowing both to protest.

But the situation did get rather fraught, particularly when the march was passing the where the opposition groups had been kept behind barriers at Piccadilly Circus, and I found myself getting abuse and threats from both sides. At the time I wrote:

“Things got a little heated at Piccadilly Circus, and some demonstrators objected to me taking pictures of them shouting and gesturing at the counter-demonstration, pushing me out of the march. Doubtless some of the other demonstrators on the other side didn’t like me photographing them either, and the police certainly wanted me back on the other side of the tape again. It is important to record what’s happening, and to stand up for a free press, so I kept taking pictures.”

My London Diary, September 2008

There are many (too many) of these pictures on the pages of this story on My London Diary.


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

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.


Back to Mayfair 1987

Thursday, September 17th, 2020
Culross St/Park Lane area, Mayfair, Westminster, 1987 87-7a-12-positive_2400

Logically you might expect Wood’s House to be in Wood’s Mews, and it may well have been, but if so is no longer there. The frame before I took two pictures of this rather pleasant 1930s building was a view of the side in Wood’s Mews of a house in Park Lane, and the frame after is of another house further south on Park Lane on the corner of Culross St.

I suspect a building with only two stories became yielded a huge profit to developers in being built as an ugly but considerably taller block, but it would be nice to be proven wrong and to find this still tucked away in a corner.

129 Park Lane, Mayfair, Westminster, 1987  87-7a-36-positive_2400

I think this rather splendid marble (I think) steps are still there on Park Lane behind the high wall that now keeps them out of view of the hoi polloi who often crowd the area around the bus stops close to this corner with Green St.

Perhaps walls like that which now hides these steps and the view from the pavement of the houses behind are a result of the increase in inequality in our society and reflect an increasing unease among the elites. Though there have been few signs of the London mob in recent years. More likely the owners got fed up with finding people sitting on them waiting for buses.

Eagle Squadron, memorial, Grosvenor Square, Wesminster, 1987 87-7a-41-positive_2400

Before the US joined in the Second World War at the end of 1941, 244 US citizens volunteered to join the RAF and served in the RAF, flying Spitfires and Hurricanes in three three Royal Air Force Eagle Squadrons, despite US laws which meant losing their citizenship for fighting for a foreign power The squadrons were transferred to the USAF in 1942 and the pilots were pardoned in 1944.

The bronze eagle on the top of the column is by Elizabeth Frink, and the memorial was financed by US newspaper owner William Randolph Hearst. It was unveiled here by Margaret Thatcher in 1986.

US Embassy, Upper Grosvenor St, Mayfair, Westminster, 1987 87-7a-43-positive_2400

Grosvenor Square was chosen as the site for the Eagle Squadron memorial because of the US Embassy which occupied the entire west end of the square. It was then a fine example of modern architecture and lacked the high fences, ugly lodges and patrolling armed police that made it a rather grim feature in more recent years. I think the long queue is of people queuing to enter the embassy to get US visas.

Car, Gilbert St, St Anselm's Place,  Mayfair, Westminster, 1987 87-7a-64-positive_2400

I have to admit to knowing nothing about cars. But this one parked in Gilbert Street was obviously a little out of the ordinary and I imagine very expensive. It looked to me like something out of a black and white film noir, and perhaps the setting would have served too. I’m sure there will be people who see this picture and can immediately recognise the make, model and date – and if so I hope they let me know in a comment.

To me it looks American, and the style seems to belong to the late 1930s, though it could be a modern replica, possibly one made for use in a film. It has an engine that doesn’t quite fit in the bonnet, perhaps 8 cylinders. The number plate NGF786Y no longer appears to exist. This is also a picture I seem to have missed retouching and there are more than usual number of scratches and dust spots.

Davies St, Mayfair, Westminster, 1987 87-7a-65-positive_2400

It isn’t hard to identify this building as the Grosvenor Works of John Bolding and Sons in Davies Street, as their name is proudly displayed on a plaque at bottom left and on the building at top right, with the initials JBS featuring twice in the centre of the picture. The company was founded by Thomas Bolding in 1822 in South Molton St and they were at first brass founders.

By the 1870s they had moved into the business they became famous for as providers of high-class sanitary equipment. They moved to this site in the late 1880s and these premises were built as a showroom for their goods, with a foundry elsewhere in London. The architects were Wimperis and Arber; John Thomas Wimperis had been appointed as one of the Grosvenor Estates approved architects in 1887 and his assistant William Henry Arber became a partner in 1889.

In 1963 Boldings bought up the business of their rather better-known rival Thomas Crapper. But a few years later in 1969 Boldings was wound up, while Thomas Crapper & Company Limited, founded in 1836, continues in business based in Huddersfield, offering ” a small yet extraordinarily authentic set of Victorian/Edwardian sanitaryware.”

The River Tyburn runs through the basement of the building which is now occupied by Grays Antiques, established in 1977. The river is a tourist attraction with large goldfish swimming in it.

Park Lane, Mayfair, Westminster, 1987 87-7b-66-positive_2400

93 Park Lane, a small part of which is visible at extreme right was a speculative rebuild of 1823-25 by builder Samuel Baxter and is Grade I listed primarily because it “was Benjamin Disraeli’s London residence from 1839 to 1872; Coningsby, much of Sybil and other novels by Disraeli were written here”, whereas the others are all Grade II. 94 to its left was also rebuilt by Baxter at the same date. Next left, 95 was rebuilt in 1842-4 by John Harrison in plain brick with stucco only on the ground floor; the rounded 96 was rebuilt in 1826 as was its more angular neighbour 97. Almost entirely out of sight at left, 98 from 1823-5 was from 1888-94 the residence of Frank Harris, “author and adventurer”, and the final house in the terrace, not in my picture, was also built then by Jon Goldicutt and was the home from 1826-85 of philanthropist Sir Moses Montefiore.

Many other photographers have photographed these houses, including Bill Brandt, who made his picture on a Spring afternoon in 1932 from behind railings across the south-bound carriageway, with a London bus in traffic behind a rather grander horse-drawn carriage driven by two top-hatted men. On page 27 of ‘Camera In London’ it appears with the simple title ‘Mayfair’. The Tate website lists it as “Regency Houses, Park Lane, Mayfair – c.1930–9, later print” and apologises “SORRY, COPYRIGHT RESTRICTIONS PREVENT US FROM SHOWING THIS OBJECT HERE”, but you can view it on Artnet where it is captioned “Park Lane (Mayfair, London) , ca. 1960”. I increasingly think that our current copyright law needs review.


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

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.


Plagiarism or Privilege?

Monday, September 14th, 2020

If you’ve not already read the story about Alec Soth being accused of plagiarism in a set of pictures he took for a New York Times commission to explore inequality in Chicago, then the Art Newspaper provides good coverage in a feature ‘Magnum photographer Alec Soth accused of plagiarism by Chicago artist Tonika Johnson’ by Tom Seymour.

Soth has denied that he knew of Tonika Lewis Johnson’s long-term series The Folded Map Project when he took his pictures and has issued an apology and is donating his income from his work for the NYT to her project.

While I had no knowledge of Johnson’s work, I feel terrible for the offense I’ve caused. I apologize to Tonika Lewis Johnson and very much regret accepting this assignment. ⁣

⁣That said, I’m glad to be made aware of her committed work and will be donating all of my income from the New York Times to The Folded Map Project. I encourage you to check out the work too: foldedmapproject.com

https://www.instagram.com/p/CEzRQc4FK2a/

You can also read a letter that Soth has written to Tom Seymour about the article in Art Newspaper (which has since been edited to include comment from Soth.)

Soth suggests that rather than plagiarism he was guilty of “shallowness” in his approach to the commission, and he points out some key differences to his work and that of Johnson.

It seems to me to not be a case of plagiarism but of privilege. In his article Seymour states Soth “also criticised the historic culture—almost a founding principle of documentary photography—of image-makers “parachuting” to different locales in order to dispassionately visualise communities distinct from their own experience.”

Certainly this was the founding inspiration of Magnum, who divided the world between their first members, and it is something many of us have criticised for many years, but now given new emphasis by the Black Lives Matter movement. But although Johnson black and female and Soth is white and male and in many ways more privileged, these particular personal distinctions are I think not the essential root of the matter. He certainly was offered the job because he was well-known and a Magnum member. She didn’t get it because the NYT was unaware of her existence, not because of any failing by Soth.

Soth didn’t perhaps do as much research as he should have done, but he points out the commission was inspired by a Chicago Tribune story and when he Googled  “Streeterville and Englewood” he also found stories from the Chicago Sun Times, The Guardian, Chicago Public Radio and every network news station, in none of which was Tonika Johnson’s work mentioned.

It isn’t just Soth, it is the whole industry – press and other media – that has failed and needs to change. Journalists need to become aware about the communities they write about, the attitudes and voices of the people in them and documentary projects such as ‘The Folded Map Project’.


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

Photo Magazines – the Future

Saturday, September 12th, 2020

I grew up reading Amateur Photographer, though I didn’t buy it, but as soon as I was old enough to graduated from the Junior Library into the Adult section, probably when I was eleven, used to take it down from the magazine rack and sit at a table reading it from cover to cover. I don’t think I made much of any of the more technical articles and it was the photographs that attracted me most. Apart from anything else it was the nearest thing to an Adult magazine in the public library, featuring rather more attractive young ladies in swimsuits (and occasionally strategically posed without them) than was really necessary. But I also got to see pictures by some of the leading photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Doisneau, Brandt and others that appeared at times in its pages.

I’d actually started my photographic education at an early age with Picture Post, which had exposed me to the likes of Bert Hardy, Kurt Hutton, Thurston Hopkins and the rest – even Bill Brandt – though of course at that age the names had meant nothing to me. My family couldn’t actually afford to buy the magazine, but we did get copies passed on to us after wealthier friends or neighbours had finished with them. Another gift, from an ageing relative who worked for the Post Office in some relatively high up capacity, was a large pile of old issues of the National Geographic magazine,. It was then only illustrated with black and white photographs, some featuring natives from hot countries; when we leafed through these on the days it was too wet to play outside, the interests of me and my friends was certainly more pornographic than ethnographic.

It was only in the 1970s that I began to buy photographic magazines. Amateur Photographer largely for the advertising, but by then I was also interested in the technical articles in that and magazines such as SLR Camera. Photography Magazine published some rather better photography (and was the first to publish a small portfolio of my work) and they and the others had regular competitions, some of which I entered and won the occasional prize, including the latest Praktica camera which I promptly sold. After all I already had a camera, so it seemed a rather silly prize.

Early in the 1970s I came across Creative Camera, and soon took out a subscription. At first I found it rather strange, but it soon grew on me and changed my photographic life. I stopped buying most other UK magazines (except AP when I needed cheap film and paper or new gear), but later discovered Modern Photography and Popular Photography, both US magazines that published serious articles about photographers and also actually reviewed cameras and lenses in depth, testing them scientifically rather than just photographing the ships across the river out of the office window. They made their UK equivalents seem little more than an illustrated press release.

In later years I found other magazines worth buying. Until very recently I had a subscription to Aperture, as well as European Photography, Camera Austria and others from outside the UK. When I became more heavily involved with teaching photography and as a part-time professional I looked forward to the weekly news magazine, the British Journal of Photography, which came through my door, keeping me updated on the UK scene, with lists of exhibitions, reviews and news. When it changed to a monthly and altered its focus I saw no point in renewing my subscription.

As well as having the odd picture published in magazines, I also wrote a few articles for some of them – back then they paid a reasonable rate for both pictures and text. In the 1990s I also wrote for and edited unpaid a newsletter for London Independent Photography, one of a number of small essentially amateur publications.

Magazines then have played an important role in my photographic life, so I was interested to read Grant Scott’s article ‘Is There A Future For The Photographic Magazine‘ on his ‘The United Nations of Photography‘ web site. It’s very much written from the standpoint of someone previously professionally involved in a number of commercial photography magazines since he began in 1985. His conclusion? “Sadly, I don’t think so.”

If by photography magazines you mean commercial print titles that will sell on the magazine shelves of W H Smith and others, it is hard to disagree with Scott’s conclusion. But during COVID-19 we have seen something of a resurgence of on-line photo magazines and I have no doubt that this will continue – with some of those now free moving to a subscription basis, but other new, free publications taking their place. And of course there are a number of web sites which are essentially photography magazines.

We will also see some specialist print magazines continue, particularly those representing different aspects of the academic and art sectors. Some will probably soon move to solely on-line versions, but others, often highly subsidised will continue to attract high-end advertising and stay in print. As too will some of the amateur publications such as that I once edited.


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


You simply can’t keep a good photograph down

Friday, August 21st, 2020

Although the Magnum web site contains 34 pictures from Henri Cartier-Bresson’s book ‘The Europeans‘, one of his best-known and best-loved images is missing from there and apparently not available from Magnum. I learnt this, and the reason why from a post ‘Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson : Pearls from the Archives’ on ‘The Eye of Photography’ which features it, Rue Moufettard, 1952, along with a short text about this picture of a excessively and cheekily proud young boy on a street corner with two large bottles (appropriately magnums) of wine, one cradled in each arm.

The text that accompanies it begins with the sentence “Henri Cartier-Bresson is 44 years old.” Which he was when he took the picture, having been born in 1908, but it goes on to write about the 1970s when this picture, along with others became popular among collectors in the newly growing art market for photography, particularly in America. While a few years after he took in he included it in his 1955 book Les Européens (The Europeans), by the 1970s he “didn’t completely recognise himself in this image and refused all reproduction. It is no longer offered by Magnum Photos nor printed for collectors.

It is perhaps rather more straightforward a picture relying on the body language and expression of that boy, a rather more ‘human’ image than the rather cooler complexity he favoured. As the text says, because of its “bonhomie and construction” it was often mistakenly attributed to “his friend Robert Doisneau.” While most of us would be very happy to have our work mistaken for Doisneau’s, apparently Cartier-Bresson was not amused.

It isn’t one of my real personal favourites among his pictures, though certainly I think one of his more memorable works, and one that no overall assessment of his photography should omit.

The text continues to look at why the price of Cartier-Bresson’s “prints took a while to take off” in the art market; (it actually uses the term “value” which for me has no relation to art market prices.)

I’m delighted to find that he refused to limit the number of prints of the same image when the art market forced many photographers into producing limited editions in the 1990s; I imagine he, like me, thought this was to go against the essential nature of the photographic medium. Less delighted to find that because of “the impossibility of controlling his works’ quality and interpretation” he forbade “post-mortem prints” of his work. Though given the incredibly wide circulation of high quality reproduction of his works through books, prints are largely an irrelevance.

You can of course still buy a copy of this print which currently goes at auctions for around $20,000 – or you can see it in museums or view it on line at numerous locations including galleries and auction houses and in many books. You simply can’t keep a good photograph down.

The Incredible World of Photography

Wednesday, August 5th, 2020

Thanks to an article by Jörg M. Colberg on Conscientious I have just spent most of the time I would normally have taken writing a post for this blog on the Kunstmuseum Basel web site online exhibition ‘The Incredible World of Photography‘ which is based on the collection of over half a million images made over 45 years since 1974 by Ruth and Peter Herzog as well as images in the Kunstmuseum’s collection. Among other things the Herzog collection includes around 3,000 photo albums produced by individuals and families around the world, with their small images pasted or held by photo corners onto scrapbook pages for passing around with friends and family – an earlier and limited form of social media.

The Herzog collection is particularly interesting in containing much work by unknown photographers (I don’t much like the term ‘anonymous’ as it’s just that no record has been made of their names.) The web site presents them with an interesting commentary and the site takes some time to explore; although I might argue (you always do my wife would say) with some of the texts it’s both informative and entertaining, and my only slight disappointment came when clicking on the magnifying glass icon to see images more clearly results in only a slight increase in size, hardly enough to warrant the effort of finger on mouse.

If you are in Basle you can visit the gallery and see more, and there is also a 360 page catalogue of this and two other exhibitions of the collection, ‘Exposure Time (E): A Photographic Encyclopaedia of Man in the Industrial Age‘ with a preview online.

Unlike Colberg, I haven’t actually seen a copy of the catalogue, and his piece, The Incredible World of Photography puts the show and book in a wider context. In a short consideration of the difference between physical albums and digital ones he asks “It will be interesting to see how future historians will deal with digital albums: is there actually going to be a way to do that, given that so many of them exist on corporate platforms?”

Colberg suggests that the Herzog collection might be a good starting point for developing “a vastly expanded (and more critical) new History of photography” allowing “what as long been dismissed as vernacular photography” to “have its proper part in that endeavour.” It isn’t of course a novel idea, and something we have already seen at least to a limited extent. And while there may be much of interest in unearthing material from the vernacular and neglected, a great deal of it is tedious in the extreme. My own view of history is very much one that stresses the importance of influence and development which I think is behind the “artists that we think are so special“. I still think at least most of them were.


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


Patina and Photography

Sunday, July 26th, 2020

According to Wikipedia, “Patina is a thin layer that variously forms on the surface of copper, brass, bronze and similar metals (tarnish produced by oxidation or other chemical processes), or certain stones, and wooden furniture (sheen produced by age, wear, and polishing), or any similar acquired change of a surface through age and exposure.”

For his post ‘Patina in Photography‘, Jörg Colberg interprets the word a little differently, using it to refer to the qualities of any surfaces in photographs, something I might prefer to refer to as texture, but also extends it to consider the content of images.

The piece is an interesting discussion, illustrated with some of his own work, of what makes a “good picture“, something which he rightly says is “enormously difficult to describe” but is also “usually straightforward to see“, though I think we might often disagree with other viewers. Colberg continues to give what is I think a useful definition of “a good picture as a picture that makes a viewer look more carefully, that makes a viewer think.”

Colberg writes about the “lure of the easy picture” which captures many photographers – indeed all of us much of the time, including as he admits himself, writing “Mostly I now ask myself whether a picture challenges me. Not surprisingly, most pictures don’t. I still take them.”

He then discusses his different reactions to the very different cities of Warsaw and Tokyo, which he ascribes to their different patina. Colberg rightly comments that as photographers we react to what we see and chose to photograph because of our “background, culture, society…” but I think I would equally stress that what we have in the world to react to is also a product of these aspects, a different culture, particularly in terms of aesthetics, but also in terms of ideas about space and personal space.

Perhaps the most important picture I took in my early years as a photographer is one that I don’t think I have ever shown to anyone. Taken on a the building site of a new estate in Bracknell where I was then living, it showed a number of sewage pipes waiting to be installed. It wasn’t a great picture but it worried me because it stood out from the others I had taken that day and that in the terms that Colberg uses, it challenged me, though not at the point of taking, but when I saw it on the contact sheet and later as a print.

I couldn’t quickly find a copy of that picture, and I think it’s one I’ve never digitised, but probably neither you nor I would find it very interesting now, and if I had it to hand I probably wouldn’t have included it here. It wasn’t a bad picture – I was taking plenty of those – nor I think a particularly good picture but one that made me begin to think and study and change.

A black woman and a gorilla

Friday, July 24th, 2020

Photographers have often I think failed to pay sufficient regard to the people in their photographs. Its something that is particularly important because of the power differential that always exists between the person holding the camera and those being depicted. Its something implicit in the language of photography, when we use the metaphors of the gun or jailer, talking about ‘shooting’ or ‘capturing’ pictures, both terms I try hard to avoid. And particularly important where our work involved people of a different class or race.

It is a question that worried me greatly in my early years as a photographer, and explains why I made relatively few pictures of people in those years, outside my own circles of family, friends and communities, concentrating on the built environment. And it was why, though I had admired his earlier black and white work greatly, I felt considerable disquiet about the colour images of working class families holidaying on beaches which turned Martin Parr from a photographers’ photographer into a celebrity. They seemed the work of an intruder while previously he had worked within communities.

The years have somewhat mellowed my view of this work, and Parr has of course gone on to do so much more, including turning his camera on his own middle class, but I still find those pictures marred by class prejudice and I think that this was at least in part what led to their popularity in the media. But of course we have seen far worse by other photographers here and around the world, and Parr is in many ways one of the good guys of photography, through the foundation he set up to encourage young and emerging photographers from all backgrounds and one whose advice encouraged me on several occasions in my early years in photography.

I wasn’t until very recently aware of the work of Italian photographer Gian Butturini and his 1969 book on London, reissued in 2017 with the text ‘Edited by Martin Parr‘ on the cover. It’s the kind of European approach popular at the time when I first began as a photographer and which I set out in total opposition to in terms of its graphic nature and quest for instant impact rather than a more serious consideration of the subject. I’ve not seen the book, only those images I’ve seen on line, and not seen the particular pairing of images of a black woman and a gorilla at London Zoo a which so shocked student Mercedes Baptiste Halliday when she was given the book as a present that she began her 18-month campaign against the book which she says is “appallingly racist.”

Parr has now said he was ashamed of his association with the book and that he deeply regrets his failure to appreciate its racist implications, something Halliday points out is hard to understand from a visually literate person. Parr also points out that the claim on the cover that he edited the book is incorrect as it he only supplied an introduction to what is otherwise a facsimile of the photographer’s 1969 book. He has also said he will donate the fee he received to charity and has called for the book to be removed from sale and destroyed. It is no longer listed on the Damiani Editions web site.

The book and Parr have come into the news as the campaign has led to both the public apology from Parr and his decision to stand down as the artistic director of the first Bristol Photo Festival. But last year’s protests by Halliday outside Parr’s show at the National Portrait Gallery were brushed aside and ignored by the photographic establishment. Perhaps it was the decision by the photography students from the University of the West of England to cancel their end-of-year show at the Martin Parr Foundation in Bristol that precipitated Parr’s decision.

One supporter of Halliday has been Benjamin Chesterton, known to many in photography and film for his ‘duckrabbit’ blog which I’ve mentioned here on several occasions. Last month he made a post which looked critically at his own family’s history, ‘Our skin in the slave trade. Uncle Sir John Moore and I.‘ which – as ever – is well worth reading. The Guardian quotes him in its article about Parr and the Butturini case as making the very salient point, “The question remains why is it down to a black teenager to confront one of the UK’s leading photographers and curators?”