Ten days ago, in Ponytail Pontifications, I wrote a little about an old friend of mine, Derek Ridgers, who had just been invited to give his thoughts on the ‘future of photography’ on the Oomska blog, the fourth photographer in what was then a five-part series.  I commented there that the responses to the questions “tell you rather more about the people questioned than casting much light on the future of photography.”

As a result I got invited to give my answers to those same questions, and I suspect the same is true about me – and you can judge for yourself in what is now part 10 of the series, with Carlein van der Beek, Tamara Bogolasky, Emma Jay and  Nick Turpin also having had their say. Comments are of course welcome, both at Oomska and here.

What I found a real problem was not answering the questions but deciding which two pictures I should send to be published with them, and, perhaps even harder, finding a picture of myself to send with them.

John Carvill who runs Oomska had actually asked me for a ‘self-portrait’ though I think he meant a picture of me. I have taken some in the past, but probably it is thirty years since I made anything but a mug-shot for ID purposes. Some of those were pretty poor by any standards, and I wince every time I pull out my press card, with a picture of me taken perhaps 15 years ago which shows me as a desperate criminal. It really isn’t even at all recognisable now and I have tried to change it by supplying a more recent (and more flattering) image on renewing the card, but the system doesn’t seem to allow for this.

Over the years other photographers have taken a number of pictures of me, some in more compromising situations than others, but there are just a few that I’ve used on line. One that I use on Facebook was taken in a rather nice London pub just after I’d got a new digital camera and several friends were passing it around and took pictures on it. But the one I chose was from the only proper portrait session I’ve sat for (I don’t count those where I sat in as a teaching aid for my students.) A friend of mine, Tony Mayne, decided around ten years ago to take a series of portraits of photographers, and brought his lights along to my house for a session.  Photographing photographers is probably always difficult, but I think he did it admirably, although some of his other sitters were undoubtedly more photogenic. And being the generous person that he was, as well as supplying me a set of proofs from the session he also gave me permission to make use of the pictures as I liked, though of course I’ve always credited the image to him, unfortunately now posthumously.

You can see that picture, and the two that I selected to go with my thoughts on Oomska.

Going back to Derek Ridgers, yesterday I went to the exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery where the Sunday Times is celebrating 50 years of their magazine. I’ll possibly write about it at greater length shortly, but if you are around there before 19 Feb it is worth a visit (though it is closed Feb 11-14.) There is a special anniversary issue of the magazine on Sunday 5 Feb, though I think it looks rather disappointing, and it and the show reminds me why I gave up buying the paper. But certainly in its early years and at times since it has used some fine photography, particularly in the early years by Don McCullin. But of a number of portraits on display as large backlit images, one for me was head and shoulders (sorry!) above the rest, Derek’s fine image of Keith Richards.

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