Archive for the ‘Photo History’ Category

Bolivia, India, Iran… London

Friday, May 18th, 2018

Bolivian president Evo Morales has led his country since he became president in 2006, following an election in which his vote was roughly twice that of his nearest rival. His policies, aimed at reducing the US influence in the area, and getting more of the profits from Bolivia’s oil and gas industries enabled much greater spending on public works projects and social programmes resulted in a significant decrease in poverty, and he was re-elected with an increased majority in 2009. And although he had said he would not stand for a third term, he changed his mind and was elected again in 2014.

In 2016 Bolivia held a referendum on whether Morales should be allowed to stand for a fourth term in 2019. His reputation had been damaged by allegations that Morales had favoured a Chinese company with state contracts because he had fathered a child with a woman who was a lobbyist for them. He admitted the relationship but denied any favouritism. There had too been a slowing of growth in the Bolivian economy due to global problems, and the indigenous groups were becoming upset at not benefiting as much as they should from the increased wealth of the country, which has created and large and growing middle class, many of whom do not support his anti-imperialist policies. The vote to change the constitution to allow him to stand went against him by 51% to 49%.

Morales cried ‘Foul!’ (he is a keen footballer) and appealed to the Supreme Court, who ruled that, despite the constitution, no public offices should have a term limit allowing him to stand, which he says he needs to do to consolidate his party’s programme of of social reforms. The protesters accuse him of wanting to be a dictator and abandoning democracy. Some were also protesting against the revised penal code recently signed by the President, which, among other things makes provision for legal abortion, but that some journalists say endangers freedom of expression and worries some in other professions about the sanctions for professional misconduct.

Referendums, as we have found to our cost in the UK, are exceedingly blunt instruments, and there are very good arguments where any constitutional change is concerned for calling for more than a simple majority. And for countries that have a representative democracy I think they should only ever be advisory to the parliament. Morales clearly lost this one, as even had the vote been the other way round it would not have been a satisfactory mandate. And in the case of the UK, our Prime Minister who made the mistake of calling the referendum, should have made clear when he did so that no government would be bound by the result. 52% to 48% should have made our government look carefully at the issues and examine the possibilities but it should not have led to them rolling over with their legs in the air.

Back in Parliament Square, as well as reflecting on the idiocy of referendums (or -da?) I couldn’t help thinking that the protest was perhaps more about some of the socialist policies of Morales than about the constitutional issues that were presented as its cause.

A short distance from the Bolivians, various Indian groups were gathering for a march to the Indian High Commission in protest against attacks on the Dalit community in India by Hindu fundamentalists and the continuing illegal caste-based discrimination. The protest was organised by the Dr Ambedkar Memorial Committee GB, and supported by various Ravidass groups, Amberdkarite and Buddhist organisations and the South Asian Solidarity Group. Dr Ambedkar, arguably India’s greatest 20th century statesman was the author of the Indian constitution, which outlawed caste discrimination, but it is still endemic there, and in the Indian diaspora. Government moves to outlaw it in this country were stopped by representations from the Hindu community, which includes a number of wealthy donors to the Conservative party.

And to complete a typically international London scene, a short distance away in Whitehall a further protest was taking place at the same time, with a rally organised by exiled Iranian groups urging UK Prime Minister Theresa May to break her silence over the uprising in Iran and call for the immediate release of the thousands arrested and under threat of the death penalty.

Read more about the protests and see more pictures on My London Diary:

Bolivians protest for Liberty & Democracy
Indians protest Hindu caste-based violence
Break UK silence over Iran uprising

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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, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

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.

To order prints or reproduce images

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Wembley 1979

Friday, May 11th, 2018

Facebook friends will know already that most days at the moment I am posting a picture or sometimes a couple of them that I took in London in years past, currently from 1979, which are on my growing London Photographs site, along with my comments, sometimes about the pictures but also about other things that come into my mind.  I don’t intend to publish all of them here – as I tried to with the pictures of Hull throughout 2017 – but will try an put some of those that include more general comments about photography on here as well.

Back in March 1979 I took a trip to Wembley, and walked around a bit, stopping off on my way home in Harlesden around Willesden Junction. Part of the reason was to look at the buildings on the British Empire Exhibition site, close to the stadium, some of which were threatened with demolition.  And here are a couple of posts about them:

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Palaces of Industry, British Empire Exhibition site, Wembley, Brent, 1979
19g-52: building, concrete, reinforced, derelict

I had come to Wembley to photograph these derelict buildings which were built in 1922 and 1923 for the British Empire Exhibition of 1924 -25, probably because some of them were about to be demolished shortly I’m not quite sure exactly which buildings I photographed, and although some were demolished in 1980, the last only went in 2013.

Although they had been built for the temporary exhibition, their reinforced concrete made them difficult to demolish, and they had only remained there so long because it would have been expensive to get rid of them. I think this is one of the buildings that was still standing and being renovated when I returned three years later and took some more pictures on Engineers Way.

The Empire exhibition was important in accelerating the development of the surrounding areas of north-west London, much of which soon became covered with suburban housing in the years up to the second war.

The area is I think totally unrecognisable now, with about the only remaining building being the 1934 Empire Pool (now Wembley Arena), which I think I photographed a few years later.


Palaces of Industry, British Empire Exhibition site, Wembley, Brent, 1979
19g-64: building, concrete, reinforced, derelict,

A second picture of the derelict concrete buildings, apparently left standing after the exhibition as it was too expensive to demolish them.

I think I probably took rather more than the handful of pictures in the area during this visit than have survived, and suspect that one of the films that I took may have been ruined by a camera or cassette fault or in processing. Although it is possible to lose digital images though card or hard disk problems – and to delete them by human error, digital is in many ways more reliable than film, not least because you can see some or your mistakes on the back of the camera.

In the 70s and 80s I was always short of cash, and loaded almost all the film I used into cassettes from bulk 100 ft lengths. I used a ‘daylight loader’ which mean that a short length at the end of each film was exposed in attaching it to the cassette spool, though later I learnt to do this part of the procedure in total darkness to avoid this. Re-using cassettes led to occasional problems with light leaks. Sometimes I used plastic bodied cassettes made for reloading – and these had caps which were quite easy to twist off – sometimes too easy. The metal bodies used by Ilford and most other films had ends which popped off when you squeezed the cassettes and could be re-used but could get too easy to remove with repeated use. (Kodak’s were crimped on and needed a can opener to remove and were not re-usable.)

All normal cassettes used felt light-traps on the opening where film emerged and films might be ruined by scratches if grit was caught in these from loading the camera in a dusty place, and we had to try hard to keep them clean when reloading them. Those fabric light traps were not intended for repeated use and this sometimes led to leaks. Leica used to have their own metal re-usable cassette which worked without a light trap, the with a slot opening up inside the camera, but it was hardly practical.

Processing too had its traps. Developers not stored in air-tight containers could react with oxygen in the air and become less active or even entirely useless (though normally they went brown to show this.) Some were meant to be re-used, and careful counting of the number of films developed was necessary to avoid them becoming too weak. As mentioned in a previous post I had to abandon some developers as simply too unpredictable.

One of my late friends, a professional photographer who did a number of jobs for a leading oil company magazine, was flown out by helicopter by them to photograph their North Sea Oil rigs. It was an extremely long and tiring day, and on reaching home she loaded the films into a multiple tank to develop them. After she poured the first chemical into the tank she realised she had poured in the fixer rather than developer. (Fixer is the chemical used to dissolve the undeveloped silver halides from films after development as most photographers will know.) The films were ruined, and she had to go in the next day and confess to her client. Fortunately for her, she had worked for them on many previous assignments and they appreciated her work, and they arranged another helicopter to take her out and make the pictures again. That time she made sure she got the processing right.

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Another picture from that walk around Wembley (though I’m again not sure exactly where it was taken) has I think two clear processing faults, visible even in this small reproduction. I could of course have removed them digitally. Fortunately I think this was the only frame on that roll affected.

You can see thumbnails of my selected images from 1979 here.

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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, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

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.

To order prints or reproduce images

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Framework History

Thursday, May 10th, 2018

One of the many things I talked about with the late Terry King the last time I met him, not long before his untimely death, was the possibility of an exhibition to celebrate the activities of Framework, a West London based photographers group which existed from 1986-92.

I was reminded of this recently by a mention of Framework in the London Independent Photographers magazine by Peter Jennings (not currently on line.) Peter, who took part in a couple of Framework shows, gets most of the details wrong. The group wasn’t run by me, and the only meetings at my house were specifically to plan exhibitions and not the main meetings, which were in the first years at community associations in East Twickenham and Kew, but latterly at the Watermans Arts Centre in Brentford.

Apart from the special meetings to plan particular shows, sometimes in my house, sometimes at Terry King’s in St Margarets, Framework held regular monthly meetings at which the photographers were expected to arrive with their most recent work for criticism – and to take part in criticising work by the others. These were small meetings, usually around half a dozen of us, and with no holds barred, Quite a few people came once but couldn’t stand the criticism, but the central core of those who attended grew from it. Of course not all the criticism made sense, but it was what people thought, and sometimes things did get pretty heated.

The LIP satellite groups were my attempt later to get something similar going inside LIP, though I don’t think any have quite lived up to their predecessor. For a while the Twickenham group which met at Jim Barron’s home came close – and most of those taking part were former Framework members.

Not that Framework had a membership or a constitution. You just came along and did it. We collected a sub from those taking part in exhibitions when we needed money (and it was the cause of some bitterness when one member refused to come up with the cash, leaving me out of pocket, but otherwise worked well.) Terry King did most of the organising of the meetings, inviting a number of photographers to come along and talk to us at various times as well as to take part in our critiques.

The group had its origins in the Richmond &Twickenham Photographic Society, where I met Terry and others including Randall Webb. The RTPS had regular large meetings with speakers, club competitions and the like, but had also spawned a number of small groups which members could attend. When someone decided to form a group which took a wider view of photography than the club world, I suspect for political reasons they didn’t want to give it a name which reflected this, and as there were at the time already five groups, they gave it the name ‘Group Six‘.


Poster, logo and photograph © 1984, Derek Ridgers

When I first went along, perhaps around 1975, Group Six was run by Vincent Oliver, who was I think the first person to get a photograph accepted in the Royal Academy Summer Show and much later ran the Photo-i web site, but it was soon taken over by Terry King. As well as meeting for a monthly discussion, often with guests (one such was Martin Parr) who would critique our work, we also organised monthly outings to take photographs. These took me to some remote rural creeks in Kent which Terry favoured, and also to Avebury and Southwark and a couple of longer visits to Portland and the Welsh Valleys. I got hauled before the RTPS committee, who had no sense of humour, for articles I wrote about some of these for Amateur Photographer.

We decided to hold shows of work by Group Six members, the first of which was in 1982 at the Orleans House Gallery in Twickenham. We went on to produce further shows at the Quay Arts Centre in Newport on the Isle of Wight and a second show at the Orleans Gallery. We were preparing for a further show at the Orleans Gallery, when the RTPS committee put their foot down and decided that they would take this over for a general RTPS show.

We set up separately from the RTPS as Group Six Photographers, organising our own large show at the Hexagon in Reading – by six photographer; later in 1985 we had another show at the Poole Arts Centre, and at both I showed work from my ‘Homage to Atget‘ (now on-line as part of Paris Revisited and in the Blurb book In Search of Atget.)

Although I had more or less left the RTPS, others in the group, including Terry King were still active members, and were getting hassled by the committee over our continuing use of the name ‘Group Six’. Although I thought we had earned the right to continue to call ourselves by that name, having established a reputation for it quite separate from the RTPS, I came up with the name ‘Framework‘.

Framework organised quite a few shows in the next six years, though I’m not sure I can remember them all. The first was at Parkshot in Richmond (where the RTPS had also moved to hold their meetings) and was followed by another at the Hexagon, where I showed 28 prints from my ‘German Indications‘, along with the half dozen or so texts which accompany them (now online mainly in black and white and also rather better as a Blurb book.) Next was another at the Orleans House Gallery, there were one or two small shows at the college where I was working and then a series of at least five shows at the Watermans Arts Centre.

One of the advantages of leaving the RTPS is that we were able to invite other photographers to join Framework, and those who came and attended the meetings and showed work included Carol Hudson, Peter Jennings, Jim Barron, Townly Cooke, Tony Mayne, Virginia Khuri, Yoke Matze, Robert Claxton, David Malarkey and others whose names will be familiar to at least some LIP members. We also had guests who showed work with us, including several of those who Terry persuaded to come and talk to us, such as Jo Spence. Unfortunately I don’t think a full record of the shows and certainly not of the meetings exists, and though I started to put together a web site with the information I had to hand in 1997, I never completed it – though the unfinished work is still on-line.

Framework basically worked by having a whip-round when we needed money – and I think we had a notional fee for coming to the meetings, though were seldom good at collecting it. But one thing we did buy was a large and expensive portfolio case to take work to galleries. And it was this portfolio, with work from Framework people, that was taken to the Mermaid Theatre to get the venue for LIP’s first exhibition.

LIP never quite replaced Framework, which closed down a few years after LIP was formed. LIP was a larger group but lacked the independence that had been an essential part of Framework – which for example never used external selectors for its shows, but battled it out amongst ourselves. And though LIP enabled the Photographers’ Gallery to stop running its ‘Young Photographers’ group, which I wasn’t the oldest still taking an active part in, which had become something of a trial for its education officer who frankly wasn’t up to the job, LIP never really received the support from the gallery that it had apparently been promised.

But I think also, the key people in Framework had moved on the time we decided to quit. Terry was increasingly involved internationally in the alternative processes world, and into the RPS Historical Group which he ran for some years, Derek Ridgers was enjoying great success working for the NME and other publications who flew him across the world to photograph music icons, and I was involved in London Documentary Photographers and their shows, though I still took part in LIP events and shows for more than 10 years – including around five years as editor of the LIP magazine, then called LIPService, until pressure of work writing about photography and taking pictures made it impossible. Others remained more firmly in LIP, some until the present day.

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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, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

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.

To order prints or reproduce images

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London 1978 – The Crescent Cafe

Tuesday, March 27th, 2018

Since the start of the year I’ve been making the occasional post of my pictures from the 1970s with some comments on my Facebook Page – though not quite as regularly as I did with my Hull photos for Hull2017, where I kept up daily posts for the whole of Hull’s year as UK City of Culture. I’m still posting the occasional set of images and comments to the Hull site, and all of the London pictures are on my more recent London Photographs site, which was put on hold for Hull’s year in the limelight.

A few of the pictures of London I have shared here earlier, but most are new, and where either pictures or comments have a particular photographic interest I’ll share them here too. The photographs will link if clicked to the London site where they appear a little larger. This is today’s image and comment:


Crescent Cafe, Crouch End Hill, Hornsey, Haringey, 1978
16r26: cafe, Haringey,

I didn’t go in the Crescent Cafe (they spelt it without an accent) but had it been open I might well have been tempted to hand over 7p for a cup of Tea, or even 17p on a Bacon Roll, though its unlikely I would have been hungry enough to deal with Egg + Bacon + Sausage + Toms, nor have been able to spare the 56p to pay for it. It seems nothing now, but money was  very tight for me then though that 7p would only be around 38p allowing for inflation, so still a bargain.

It was however probably the highly detailed menu on the blackboard that attracted my attention, along with the shiny aluminium of the urn and teapot. I’m not sure why it was closed. Perhaps it was a Saturday or Sunday, or, as it was taken in August, perhaps the owners were taking their annual holiday, but the place was clearly still normally in business.

I can’t remember either what had taken me to north London, but I suspect I may have been carrying a large orange box of Agfa Record Rapid, following a visit to “the Brovira Boys of Muswell Hill“, Peter Goldfield and Martin Reed, who imported this holy grail of photographic paper into the UK, and published in 1978 ‘The Goldfinger Craftbook For Creative Photography‘, now rather dated but available on-line. Later I got to know Peter, and wrote a short piece on my >Re:PHOTO blog when he died in 2009. Martin Reed went on to continue the work they started at Silverprint, for many years from 1984 in Southwark and still in business, though without Martin, in Poole and by mail order.

Record Rapid died so far as photographers were concerned around 1988, when Agfa were forced to re-formulate it without cadmium for health and safety reasons. Cadmium compounds are highly poisonous, and are still used in artists’ pigments, but while they are fixed on the surface of paintings, and thus safe unless artists licked their brushes, a considerable proportion ran off into the drains when photographic paper was processed, and their use was banned in most countries. Papers containing cadmium salts continued to be made in other countries for a few years but none achieved the properties of the old Record Rapid, and probably the closest approach to it now involves using some inkjet papers.

Peter Goldfield
The Goldfinger Craftbook For Creative Photography
Silverprint
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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, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

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.

To order prints or reproduce images

________________________________________________________

Loss, Lauds, Leaps & Lazarus

Sunday, March 18th, 2018

Of Loss, Lauds, Leaps, and Lazarus is the title of a yet another interesting post by Professor Larry J Schaaf, the Project Director of the Talbot Catalogue Raisonné at the Bodleian Library, Oxford.  I’ve mentioned the catalogue before and it is truly a magnificent project on one of the founders of our medium, one which I very much wish had been available when I had to write a few articles on W H F Talbot and the Calotype process.

Among the items covered in the latest weekly post is one on a process that Talbot experimented with prior to 1839 that I’d never heard of before, the lo-type, which has now been recreated by Grant Romer, involving the printing-out of images by extended exposure on iodised surfaces of copper or silver on glass, not dissimilar to the work of Daguerre in France.

Unlike Daguerre he did not break his thermometer and thus discover the use of mercury to ‘develop’ these images, instead using greatly extended exposures that produced both a positive metallic silver image and also some fairly strong colours from interference patterns. The colours are unrelated to the colour of the subjects, most of which were leaves and similar specimens in contact with the copper or silver surface.

Another topic mentioned in his note is the 209th anniversary of the birth of Anna Atkins on March 16th 1799, though it is actually the 219th anniversary if my maths is correct. She was the only daughter of a well known scientist of the time, John George Children and very close to him as her mother died when she was only a few months old. He brought her up and encouraged her as a scientist and she continued her scientific work after marrying a railway promoter in 1825.  She of course is deservedly famous for producing the first photographically illustrated book, Photographs of British Algæ: Cyanotype Impressions, its blue images produced exposing the specimens in contact with sheets of paper senswitized using the cyanotype process which had recently been developed by the man who proposed the term ‘photography’,  her friend Sir John Herschel and who had sent the details of his work to her father. Schaaf has some interesting news about new publications and exhibitions of her work later in the year.

More sadly, there is also an obituary for Peter James (1958-2018), “Head of Photography at the Library of Birmingham for more than 25 years until his job was criminally swept away in 2015.”  As well as his own thoughts, Schaaf also has those of a number of well-known people in photography who knew him.  I only met him on a few occasions, and we had once briefly discussed the possibility of working on a project together.  I was impressed as others were by his knowledge, appreciation and enthusiasm for photography and his early death is a great loss for phtoography in the UK.

A Russian Vivian Maier?

Tuesday, March 13th, 2018

I think it does little service to “Leningrad’s lost photographerMasha Ivashintsova (1942-2000)  to call her a ‘Russian Vivian Maier‘ as the headline in Peta Pixel about her work does. The images in ‘Russian Vivian Maier’ Discovered After 30,000 Photos Found in Attic‘ bear no similarity to the work of Maier, nor do the circumstances of her life or the ‘discovery’ of her archive.  And fortunately, since they have been put on-line and into the ‘Masha Galleries‘ by her only daughter Asya Ivashintsova-Melkumyan there are very unlikely to be any of the legal shenanigans that have plagued the exploitation of the work of Maier by various parties.

Masha ‘s husband and daughter had moved to Moscow away from her when the marriage broke up around 1976, and the pictures (including some of the daughter) were found in 2017 by her daughter and her husband in the attic of the family home in house in Pushkin, Saint Petersburg where her mother had stored them.

Looking through the images both in the article and on the Masha Ivashintsova website and Instagram it is apparent that she was a very proficient photographer and the pictures also appear to be an interesting document of “the Leningrad poetic and photography underground movement of the 1960−80s”.  There is too a stylistic consistency absent from the work of Maier.

Of course we have so far seen only a very small fraction of her output, though perhaps more will emerge with an exhibition being planned this Summer in Vienna. It isn’t of course something that is going to change the history of photography, but I think it might well make a very interesting book or two – and possibly a rather interesting film.

I’ve long been of the opinion that their are many interesting collections of photographs in attics and often consigned to skips around the world, and its good to see one of them preserved and presented to the public.

 

 

 

‘A Day in the Life’ and Magnum

Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

It’s hard for photographers to view Magnum dispassionately, with the huge amount of myth that surrounds it. It’s members have included some of the greatest legends of photography, and certainly some of its greatest egos. We’ve grown up being fed with the idea of its great crusade for photographers, and it came as something of a shock for me to realise, years ago when I got an application form for some great project, the small print which informed me that Magnum photographers would get paid at twice the rate of the hoi polloi, that it was more a fight for Magnum members than the rest of us, though perhaps some of its benefits have trickled down.

Most of what we know about Magnum is the official story, as told by Magnum and allied organisations including the ICP. And interesting though Russell Miller‘s ‘Magnum: Fifty Years at the Front Line of History’ was, as would be expected from the title (and the sub-title Fifty Years at the Front Line of History – The Story of the Legendary Photo Agency) it too was largely celebratory rather than offering a truly objective story.

Reading Robert Dannin‘s series of posts, The Dannin Papers, on A D Coleman‘s Photocritic International site fills in the story and offers a unique insight, warts and all (perhaps mainly warts.) Dannin was from 1985-90 Editorial Director of Magnum Photos and has a remarkable memory for events and for how Magnum actually worked in those years.

The latest series of posts, which begins with Guest Post 24: Robert Dannin on the “Day in the Life” Projects (a) (January 21, 2018), and is currently on the fifth of seven instalments. Dannin describes the Collins Day in the Life of … series of books which covered 11 countries and two US states as “the first spectacular disruption aimed at transforming professional photographers into undervalued content providers, the unfortunate state of affairs that today confronts those wishing to make a career of making images.

The series, like his earlier series on Magnum which began last October makes interesting reading for anyone involved in photojournalism.

American History of American Photography

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

Only Part 1 of Marc Falzon‘s short survey of the history of American photography is currently available (and featured in PDN Pulse), but it’s 8 minutes offers an interesting introduction to the subject, dealing with it through 3 key curatorial figures, Alfred Stieglitz, Minor White and John Szarkowski (part one only deals with Stieglitz) and a few key photographers.

Among those photographers, so far only Timothy O’Sullivan and Walker Evans have been the only to have been looked at in any depth, with a passing mention of a few others.

It’s an introduction that tries to demonstrate what is peculiarly American about American photography and makes some interesting points, while of course minimising or neglecting much European work of the era.

Where it descends to the ridiculous is in suggesting that photographers such as Atget and Henri Cartier-Bresson were somehow the product of American advances in the medium and the influence of Stieglitz. What influence there was clearly flowed the other way.

It wasn’t the school around Stieglitz that motivated Walker Evans – except in a reaction which dismissed it as well as the newer modernism of photographers such as Paul Strand, but the vernacular photography of the many unknown American photographers – and the work of Atget which was brought to New York by Berenice Abbott and Julien Levy.

What I find most annoying about this video is however the way that the photographs are shown, generally starting zoomed into a detail and wandering around the image, with only at best a fleeting glimpse of the image as a whole. Framing is so intrinsic to our medium and we need to see and study pictures in their entirety – perhaps occasionally zooming in to view significant details.

Civil Rights for Photographers too

Thursday, December 14th, 2017

It’s some while since I last mentioned a post from the New York Times Lens blog, which publishes something of interest most days.

Today’s story, A Look at the Heart-Wrenching Moments From Equal Rights Battles, comes with a slide show of 18 amazing images, many of which have become well-known. One of the most striking of them shows a row of Memphis sanitation workers and supporters walking with posters ‘I AM A MAN’ (and one man without) past a row of the fixed bayonets of the Tennessee National Guard fixed bayonets  in 1968. What upsets me somewhat is that the picture is not attributed.

It isn’t the fault of Lens. I’ve searched the web and not found any better attribution than ‘Unknown photographer’, though I’m sure that there are still people out there who were on Beale St in 1968 and will know who took it. Probably it would be a name none of us have heard of, perhaps an amateur, perhaps a press photographer ‘working for hire’. It might be someone who had good reasons to keep their name out of it.

But generally I think photographs should always be attributed to the photographer. It annoys me that some of my pictures have been published as by Alamy or Corbis or some other agency and without my name, or with no name at all. Many pictures that I know who they were taken by have been published as if Hulton or Getty was a photographer – and the civil rights image is published as if it was by Bettmann Collection/Getty Images.

Like you’ve never been away

Monday, December 4th, 2017

I got quite excited this morning when a parcel arrived and I unwrapped it to find a signed copy of the new edition of Paul Trevor‘s amazing pictures of children in Liverpool in the mid-70s, ‘like you’ve never been away‘. The first edition, which sold out pretty quickly, was published as an exhibition catalogue in 2011, and was a rather unsatisfactory portrait format, with pictures split across the gutter, and the new edition’s landscape format is a great improvement.

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.

I wrote a little about the first edition when it came out, and still have it on my shelves, but I was pleased to be one of the 193 supporters of the Kickstarter campaign which closed on 28th October andt enabled this re-publication (though I didn’t pay the extra to have my name included or get the very reasonably priced prints on offer.)

The new edition is of a thousand copies, of which half are hardback and the rest softcover. It isn’t yet listed for sale at the publisher, Bluecoat Press, and the link at Amazon is still to the unavailable First Edition, copies of which secondhand now cost roughly twice as much as as the new and far preferable hardcover edition.

I’m sure it will soon appear on sale, though perhaps not for long as quite a few copies will have been sent out to those supporters. The hardback is ISBN 9781908457387 and the cover price £25 it might make a good Christmas present for someone with an interest in photography. I’ll try and comment or update on this later.