Archive for November, 2019


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.

Berlin Wall falls

Tuesday, November 19th, 2019

Click on the “vimeo” in the image above to go to Vimeo to view this video larger rather than look at it here. And when you are in Vimeo make the video full-screen and sit back and enjoy. I think I prefer it with the sound muted though it’s not intrusive but I don’t think adds anything to the images.

Twins Peter Turnley and David Turnley both covered the events leading up to and during the ‘Fall of the Berlin Wall’ in 1989 – and certainly from the pictures at times worked together there. That same year Peter Turnley was awarded the prestigious Overseas Press Club Olivier Rebbot Award, and David Turnley was awarded the Overseas Press Club Robert Capa Gold Medal of Courage and the Pulitzer Prize for Photography.

Although the wall “fell” on 9th November it was not until 23rd December that there was entirely free movement between the two sides As some of these pictures show many “wall woodpeckers” went to work pretty much straight away collecting souvenirs and there were unofficial openings made, it was only in the following June that the official demolition of the wall began.

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”.

Big money

Sunday, November 17th, 2019

Blogger and photojournalist Avi Adelman has just hit the jackpot in the US with a settlement from Dallas Area Rapid Transit system (DART) of $345,000 for his wrongful arrest for criminal trespass when he photographed a person on the ground being treated by paramedics for an overdose at Rosa Parks Plaza, in public in a public place which is DART property. After the arrest he was detained for a day, but a week later the charge was dropped and after an investigation the arresting officer was later disciplined.

You can read the story on Petapixel at Photographer Wins $345K Settlement Over Unlawful Arrest While Taking Pictures.

The arresting officer took action because she beleived that Adelman taking pictures was in breach of the medical privacy law established in the US Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). But as Adelman says, “The subjective personal opinions of LEO personnel should never be allowed to interfere with lawful and protected First Amendment activities.

The article states that Adelman considers this settlement “a major win for photojournalists everywhere”, but I think he only means photographers anywhere in the United States. Here we don’t have a written constitution to have a “First Amendment”, and certainly any settlement that might have been reached in the UK over such a case would have been for only a fraction of the amount DART paid.

I don’t think either that there was any great public interest in the pictures that Adelman was taking, and probably police and others here would have attempted to protect the privacy of the unfortunate person being photographed. Unless it was someone in the public eye or the police or paramedics were clearly abusing someone I don’t think I would have wanted to take pictures of this incident in any case.

However taking such pictures would probably also have been legal here, as it was a public event taking place in an area open to the public where there could be no real expectation of privacy. Here it’s more a matter of decency than legality. But some other countries attach more importance to personal privacy and photographers who photograph such events could find themselves paying out rather than raking it in.

October 2019 complete

Saturday, November 16th, 2019

It’s taken me a lot of work to get all my pictures from October sorted out and on the web on My London Diary, and two trips away from home didn’t help. Apart from those visits to Unstone, Sheffield and Matlock it was also a busy month with more protests by Extinction Rebellion and around their actions, ending the month with 39 posts including over 1500 pictures.

October 2019

IWGB Protest UCL outsourcing

St Mary’s Hospital Strike For Equality
Support Chilean protesters
Algerians call for free elections
Assange – Tell the Truth BBC
Iraqi solidarity with Iraq protesters

UFFC 21st remembrance procession
End Family Courts aiding violent fathers
Against compulsory relationship education

Catalans say release Political Prisoners
Lumsdale & Matlock
Matlock Town Walk
Cuba leads on climate say RCG
March for a People’s Vote

XR demands Murdoch tell the truth
XR defies protest ban
Protest defends freedom of speech
XR No Food No Future protest
Rally supports Bolivia’s Evo Morales
Against Ecuadorian President Moreno
Solidarity with Rojava – Kurdish Syria

XR Strength in Grief Procession
Brexit unfair for EU citizens
Trade Unionists join the Rebellion
Brick Lane Night
Bangladeshi students protest campus violence
Extinction Rebellion Day 3
Biofuel Watch – Axe Drax at BEIS
All Rise For Climate Justice
Stirling Prize for Architecture
Extinction Rebellion continues

XR Rebels marry on Westminster Bridge
Extinction Rebellion occupy Westminster
Sheffield, Yorkshire
Unstone, Derbyshire
IWGB at Mayfair club Loulou’s
Saudis support killer Prince MBS
Justice For Jamal Khashoggi

London Images

Stonewall 50

Friday, November 15th, 2019

At 1:20 a.m. on Saturday, June 28, 1969, police began a raid on the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York, a Mafia owned pub according to Wikipedia known to be popular among the poorest and most marginalized people in the gay community: drag queens, transgender people, effeminate young men, butch lesbians, male prostitutes, and homeless youth.”

Police raids on gay locations were not uncommon, but usually the police who took money from bar owners and tipped them off in advance of the raids, but this hadn’t happened at Stonewall that night, probably because the police felt they weren’t getting enough payback.

In the raid, police separated all those dressed as women and as usual in such raids tried to get them to go into the toilet with a woman officer to be examined – and, if they had male genitals, arrested. But people refused, and men refused to show police their ID.

You can read a lengthy account of how the events developed in the Wikipedia article. The riots that arose from the raid, largely started by lesbians and transgender people who stood up to the police continued the following day and are generally accepted to have begun the gay liberation movement not just in the United States but elswhere across the world.

The annual Pride celebration in London is now largely a corporate event, a parade rather than a march, and although this year it was said to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, to many it hardly seemed to do so in an appropriate fashion. But there are other Pride celebrations around London that now seem more authentic, and the Forest Gayte Pride festival had the advantage of taking place on the actual 50th anniversary of Stonewall, with events on the 28th and 29th June.

I arrived a few minutes late for the start of the Pride march in Forest Gate, which appeared to have started a little earlier than the time I had been given, but managed to photograph its final few hundred yards and the speeches in the Pride Market at its conclusion. Unlike the huge event in central London, this was very much a community event, and far more interesting for that.

Among those who took part in the march and spoke was the local mayor Rokhsana Fiaz. She replaced the former mayor of Newham, Robin Wales, who had been mayor since the post was established in 2002 but was deselected in 2018 after a challenge to questionable voting procedures by affiliates which would have kept him in power despite the votes of local party members.

More at Forest Gayte Pride celebrates Stonewall 50

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 via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

Whales, Lions (and Wales)

Thursday, November 14th, 2019

I remember whale meat. Back in the days of rationing after the war several ‘delicacies’ were introduced to the British diet, available ‘off-ration’. These included snoek, spam and whale meat, and women’s magazines carried government propaganda in the form of recipes intended to make them edible.

We got spam fritters in schol dinners well into my youth and they were more than averagely disgusting; many of us carefully removed the pink stuff and ate the batter, hoping to scrape our plates into the pig swill bucket while the dinner lady (school kids back then always said they were trained by the Gestapo) wasn’t looking. We hoped the pigs didn’t object to a little cannibalism.

But whale meat only happened once. My mother cooked it for dinner (what you now probably call lunch) and it was a black day around the table. I don’t think even she took a second mouthful, certainly the rest of us tried this promised delicacy and downed forks – or at least pushed the offending substance to one side of our plates while finishing off the potato and veg. Back then you weren’t allowed to leave anything on your plate, but that day was an exception. Even the cat wouldn’t eat it.

But apparently it is considered a delicacy in Japan, and they have continued fishing for whales under the pretence of ‘research’ but that hasn’t produced enough to meet demand, so they are now proposing to go back to sea, harpoons at the ready to hunt more seriously.

One poster said ‘Eat Kale Not Whale’ and I have some reservations about that. Kale isn’t too bad, but this year it has grown and grown in our garden, doubtless because of our unusual weather (another negative consequence of climate change.) You can have, as I’m finding, too much kale.

The Global March For Whales at least in its London manifestation appeared to be a rather conservative event, with none of the more radical groups who protest against whaling attending, almost as if they had not been informed it was happening. Numbers were low and perhaps it had been deliberately kept quiet to avoid the rowdier elements.

I left before the march – or rather walk along the pavement – to the Japanese Embassy began to photograph another animal event which was supposed to be taking place in Trafalgar Square, and walked around the square without finding it. Then another photographer shouted from across the road and I found a small group in the shade outside a pub.

It was a really sweltering day in the sun, and the organisers had decided it was just too hot to go ahead as planned with a lengthy vigil 4 years after the shooting in Zimbabwe of Cecil the lion by an American trophy hunter using a crossbow.

The man who was wearing a lion costume would have been seriously in danger of heat stroke had they held a long protest in the sun, and was finding it hot even in the shade, so I think their decision was wise.

Instead they were intending to have a much shorter photocall. I took a few pictures as they were getting ready but had to leave before this took place.

More pictures and more about both events:
Global March For Whales
Remember Cecil the magnificent lion

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 via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

Another Grenfell protest

Wednesday, November 13th, 2019

It seems increasingly unlikely that we are ever going to see justice for the victims of Grenfell as the establishment use all the tricks in their book to protect those responsible.

Perhaps in the end after years of purposefully drawn out inquiry by police and judges a few small companies will be found guilty of failing to follow some aspects of building regulations and be given insignificant fines, though I doubt even that. But the real culprits seem almost certain to escape scot-free.

THe RCG have a fine banner by Andrew Cooper

So far we have only seen the first stage of the official  Grenfell Tower Inquiry which appears to have been a travesty, with the judge shifting blame on those responsible for fighting the fire and coming to a conclusion that not only flies in the face of what experienced fire-fighters say, including those who were there on the night, but could well lead to more deaths in other high-rise fires. People are almost certain given the publicity by the report to die in some future fires because they try to escape rather than staying safe in their homes. And quite clearly had the idiotic Jacob Rees Mogg lived in Grenfell he and his family would have died there.

These blocks – Grenfell included – only got approval on the basis that any fire would be contained within a flat and would be expected to be able to burn itself out even if fire-fighters did not attend. Building regulations made sure that this was the case, and the towers were built to enable any firest that did occur to be safely fought from within the building. The flats were essentially small self-contained concrete units, isolated from each other, with dry risers to supply water on the landings when needed and smoke traps.

Simon Elmer of ASH who produced a report on Grenfell

The blame for Grenfell lies squarely with the government ministers who altered the regulations and allowed building owners to make their own fire inspections, with owners who saved money by arranging inadequate inspections and employing contractors to add unsuitable cladding and otherwise compromise the building safety. Contractors too bear some resposiblity for agreeing to install unsafe cladding and for doing so in a way which removed the gaps essential for safety.

Another small left-wing group declined the offer to join the RCG protest

Kensington & Chelsea Council and its TMO must bear the main responsibility for this particular building, with councillors and others taking the decisions which made the building a fire-trap. They were more than incompetent, bullying those who informed them of some of the problems.

The council too failed to properly deal with the survivors, despite some extravagant promises made in the early days after the fire by Theresa May and others. A full year after the fire only 41% of the households from Grenfell Tower and adjoining Grenfell walk had been permanently re-housed. Of those in the wider affected area, 29% had been able to return to their homes and 1% – one family – permanently rehoused. The other 70% (90 families) were still in some form of temporary accomodation. This despite Kensington & Chelsea being one of the wealthiest boroughs in the country.

Many of those most closely involved are still suffering intensely from trauma and both initial relief and counselling were other areas where the council and other official response are felt by many to have been inadequate – and put to shame by the community response. As an outsider I don’t feel entitled to comment, though I’ve certainly heard the pain expressed by some of the community.

People pose on the council steps at the end of the RCG protest

Various groups formed after the fire, some with more support among the victims and wider community than others. Although all have I think taken part in the monthly silent walks which aim to keep the memory of the events alive, there have been arguments with some groups urging a more radical stance is needed to get action.

Two of these groups, both relatively small, had come to protest at the Kensington & Chelsea town hall outside the council meeting. I had gone to photograph the protest by the Revolutionary Communist Group who have run street stalls on Ladbroke Grove close to Grenfell and organised other protests in the area as well as taking part in the silent walks. As well as their own speakers they had invited others to talk, and as main speaker Simon Elmer of Architects for Social Housing, whose report and film produced within a few weeks of the fire remains the most authorative account of the reasons why Grenfell was a tragedy waiting to happen.

More at No Justice for Grenfell

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 via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

Don’t attack Iran!

Tuesday, November 12th, 2019

For a few days it really looked as if Trump was about to launch an attack on Iran and he was really being urged to do so by some of his hard-line advisers.

Trump had called off a planned air strike at the last minute which was planned in retaliation for the shooting down of an unmanned US reconaissance drone by Iranian forces. Iran had said it had strayed into Iranian air space while the US claimed it was in international air space.

Despite the US official claim it seems almost certain that the drone was attacked in Iranian air space, when it and an armed Boeing P-8 Poseidon US navy surveillance aircraft with a crew of 35 flying close to the drone had strayed into it over the Gulf or Hormuz.

Iran issued a statement that both aircraft were in their airspace and that they had twice warned the US before deciding to attack the drone, but had decided not to attack the manned aircraft, stating “we could have shot it down, but we did not .”

It was perhaps this statement that caused Trump to call off the US attacks at the last minute, saying he had been told 150 Iranians would be killed, and that this would be disproportionate.

Trump also stated; ” There was a plane with 38 people yesterday, did you see that? I think that’s a big story. They had it in their sights and they didn’t shoot it down. I think they were very wise not to do that. And we appreciate that they didn’t do that. I think that was a very wise decision.

But the US threat remains, with Trump in a later tweet promising “Any attack by Iran on anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force. In some areas, overwhelming will mean obliteration.

Because of the high and continuing threat level of war against Iran, Stop The War had called an emergency protest to demand our government to make it clear to Trump that it did not want and would not support a war against Iran. They protested opposite Downing St and tried to deliver an urgent letter to the Prime Minister, but were refused admission to Downing St by an apologetic police office on the gate as they had not arranged permission some days beforehand.

I had thought that MPs were allowed entry without prior arrangement, but Emma Dent Coad, MP for Kensington, was refused entry. The protesters were told to put the letter in the post.

More pictures: Don’t Attack Iran

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 via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Monday, November 11th, 2019

Two recent articles I’ve read on other sites that I think you might be interested in, both with some fine photographs as illustrations.

In Can Photojournalists Be Entirely Objective? on Artsy, Kelsey Ables looks at the problem that photographers have in “today’s social media–oriented political landscape “of following the NPPA Code of Ethics instructions to “recognize and work to avoid presenting one’s own biases in the work” and to “resist being manipulated by staged photo opportunities.”

If you are a regular reader you will know what I think of photo-ops. A few years ago I was involved in a NUJ attempt to produce a code of ethic and came to very much appreciate the problems involved.

The second piece is more entertaining, and is a feature on Aperture advertising an Aperture/Magnum print sale, now over. 15 Photographers Reveal What’s Hidden in Their Work and the pictures were among the over 120 included with roughly postcard size (6×6 inches) prints selling for $100 a piece with an undisclosed percentage going to Aperture.

I’m not quite sure what makes a postcard size print “museum quality” though these are “signed or estate-stamped“, and quite frankly I think a waste of money.

If you’ve a a spare $100 and want to support Aperture take out a magazine subscription, which will get you many more images printed high quality and mainly rather larger. I subscribed for many years but recently gave it up partly because I already have far too many books and magazines around the house, but also because frankly it just isn’t as interesting as it used to be.

The pictures are accompanied by short comments by the photographers (quotations from previous writing by those who are no longer with us.) There are a few of the 15 I’d hang on my own wall if I had a rather larger than postcard copy.