Ponytail Pontifications

Derek Ridgers was recently interviewed by Oomska on the future of photography, the fourth in (so far) a five part series so far includes Ed Swinden,, George Plemper, Steve Gullick and Philip Greenspun.  Derek, who I’ve known for years is always interesting to talk to, and clicking on the fine portrait of Willie Dixon at the head of his piece will take you to his web site.

When I taught photography it was always a great pleasure when Derek came to talk to the students, who recognised far more of the people in his portraits than I did. But even if my knowledge of the pop scene from the 70s on was abysmal I could see the quality of his work. Too many portraits get published simply because the person in them is well-known, even though the pictures may be poor (and the walls of our National Portrait Gallery have more than their share of such work) but Derek’s work stands out.

Even if you have little interest in such music, there are still some interesting stories on Derek’s blog,  The Ponytail Pontifications,  where among other things you can find why both he and one of his photographic heroes Garry Winogrand “both had deadbolts on the inside of our darkrooms”.

Derek used to come to Framework, one of the photographer’s groups I was involved with in the 1980s and showed work in a number of the shows we organised. We all used to bring work along and discuss it with the group, and he was in some respects our most useful member; when we often wasted too much time in trying to find redeeming features in some of the more vacuous work that some people brought, his comments were generally rather more forthright.  And usually spot on.

The answers to the set of questions posed by  Oomska, “a new, UK-based online arts and pop culture magazine” which began in 2010 tell you rather more about the people questioned than casting much light on the future of photography. Photographically, apart from Derek, the most interesting work they led me to was by George Plemper, who in the late 70s was (like me) teaching as Head of Chemistry in a large comprehensive school. While I took a few pictures (and started a photographic course) he produced a very much larger body of work both inside the school and in the local community which you can see on Flickr. Perhaps the most interesting set I investigated is One moment in time: England 1975-1982.

4 Responses to “Ponytail Pontifications”

  1. johncarvill says:

    Hello. Thanks for your comments on the Oomska article. You’re right, of course: sometimes the Q&A draws answers which say more about the interviewee than the ostensible topic. A common phenomenon. And when the interviewee is as interesting and bog-hearted as Derek, it’s not an issue.

    Anyway I like your website, I’ve bookmarked it, and if you’d like to participate in the Q&A yourself, your views would be very welcome.

    All best
    John Carvill (Editor, Oomska)

  2. Thanks for your comments John. I think you meant big hearted!

    Perhaps take you up on that Q&A sometime,



  3. johncarvill says:

    Right, big rather than bog!

    Glad to ohave you do the Q&A, but not too much time left, before next Friday would be best.

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