The Day I Met Peter van Agtmael (again)....

The Barbican in London have been hosting a monthly symposium in conjunction with Magnum. The latest one that I attended was hosted by Ossian Ward who was talking with Donovan Wylie and Peter van Agtmael.

Firstly, Donovan's stuff shot in Ireland is brilliant. Recent American project? Shocking. Terrible. WTF!? I am lost... He seems to have done that thing that some photographers do (and artists) when they take themselves too seriously. He has disappeared up his own bottom.

Peter on the other hand, well he was talking about his latest work, a wonderful book titled Buzzing At The Sill. This book is just magnificent. Double page spreads of the most beautiful of beautiful images. 

"Buzzing at the Sill is Magnum photographer Peter van Agtmael's work about coming home from years of covering war in Iraq and Afghanistan and trying to understand his experiences and his country. The work is a stew of reflections on war, memory, militarism, identity, race, class, family, surrealism, and the landscape. 

It is a sequel to Disco Night Sept. 11, van Agtmael's previous book that was shortlisted for the Paris Photo/Aperture Book Award and was named a Book of the Year by the New York Times Magazine, Time, Vogue and American Photo, amongst others."

I met Peter the first time in the summer of 2016. I shared a table with him and amongst others Mimi Mollica (Terra Nostra), we were on a Magnum quiz night. 

We were terrible. Please see inside the cover of Peters book that he kindly signed...

Ps - Peter has a pet name for me now.

The Day(s) I Met Wonderful People

I started a project 1 month ago to the day where I started to photograph people I know, or in most cases people I don't know at a location close to my house in central Norwich. I picked the place for several reasons, mainly for the light, the perspective, the colours and also because it offers some shelter whilst people are being photographed. A lot of people don't like having their photograph taken but this project has really caught on, people seem to want to be part of it. #humbled

I eventually plan on having the images published in the form of a book, this will probably be nearer to 2018 than 2017.

So far I have photographed 32 people. I have now uploaded all the images I have to my website and other Social Media. This weekend I am shooting another 10 people. I have a total of 20 booked in before year end, with a waiting list of another 50+ (without actually asking anyone myself). From there on in, I will upload 1 image every 2 to 4 weeks. The problem is, this is addictive and I love talking to people.

Please drop me a line if you want to be part of the group, I would love to have you on the page. If you can recommend anyone, I would be grateful. 

The thing I am really loving is how much you can learn from someone in a 5 minute conversation. I won't point people out as the conversations were private, but I will just say a few words on things that I remember well. I am 47 now and tend to write everything down as I forget lots of things. I have not written anything down about anyone involved in my project as I did not want it to seem like an interview.

I can start with my son, he was the first I took a photo of in this location. I am thankful to him for being carted around many, many locations in Norwich until I found the right place to shoot. Max, you are ace, thank you. Ive learnt about peoples own history. Musicians and how and where they have performed, people who like growing things. Ive learnt about peoples thoughts about their work and how they care for each other. I have spoken to parents and they have told me of their love for their children, people have also told me about their love of their own particular passion which have been extremely wide-ranging. Photographers have spoken with me about the things they want to do, their own projects. Its all been pretty bloody marvellous. 

The biggest thing I have learnt, people are nice. You just have to make the effort. Talk to each other, it wont hurt.

So a quick thank you to...

Max, Les, Karen C, April, Simon, Gemma, Ryan, Snowy, Kenny, John, Corky, Tony, George, Rik, Jordan, Sophie, Will, Michael, Albert, Tom, Fiona, Dave, Cat, Antony, Sarah, Rebecca, Karen W (chief booking agent - extra thanks), Jo, Nicola, Caitlin, Alex and the wonderful Gordon.

You are all great, I thank you.

Click me...

The Day I Met Mimi Mollica (again)

Last night I visited The Print Space in London to see Mimi Mollica's "Terra Nostra" exhibition.

I first met Mimi when I had the good fortune of finding myself on a table with him back in June at a Magnum "Quiz Night". We were terrible and lost heavily...

I started stalking, sorry, following Mimi's work way before then having stumbled across his work. 

Terra Nostra is the result of 7 years work "showing what the mafia has caused in terms of damage to the coast, the economy, and politics" in his  old homeland of Sicily. 

Check out his work here www.mimimollica.com

Mimi's forthcoming book is going to be great. You can also back at the time of writing on Kickstarter. I have.

The Day I Met Sink Ya Teeth

The days of me sneaking my old Minolta film rangefinder into a gig have gone. The days of me sneaking a small digital camera into a gig have gone.

Nowadays, I get asked/paid/coerced/bribed/loved into shooting gigs with cameras I no longer have to hide. 

Recently I shot Sink Ya Teeth.

I don't do reviews of anything other than camera gear or dodgy restaurants. I certainly don't do live music reviews, mainly because I would not do the gig justice.

Here is my review of Sink Ya Teeth however. Go see them. Wallow in the wonderfulness of it all, they are great. Oh and bloody nice as well.

www.sinkyateeth.com

I took this photo, I like it.

The Day I Met Chris Steele-Perkins

Recently I had an invite to attend a talk on Documenting Style And Subculture which was hosted by Anna Sparham of The London Museum with guest speakers Ekow Eshun (Face Magazine - remember that) and Chris Steele-Perkins. Chris (if you don't already know) is a Magnum Photographer who was once also Magnum’s President.

My particular reason for being there was because I knew Chris’s book “The Teds” had been reprinted and I like to collect autographed photobooks. Plus to hear one of the worlds leading photographers isn't exactly something that happens everyday... 

Ekow had curated a show earlier in the year at The Photographers Gallery about black males and “Dandyism”. That was a brilliant show, images that were from another world. If you missed it, you really missed something unique.

Anyway… Chris Steele-Perkins had done a documentary of Holkham Hall, not far from where we live. He spent a year wandering around alone and taking pictures. I am yet to secure that book, its on my list. So when the talk had finished we chatted a bit and spoke about Holkham. He may be back in the area before too long. I am a cheeky bastard so I gave him my card and told him I would buy him lunch if he is ever close by. 

His reply "Ok mate", so not an instant dismissal.

Don't ask, don't get. I doubt i’ll get.

Oh and I got the re-print of The Teds. Its magnificent.

Wedding

Recently I was asked to photograph a wedding. 

The bride and groom were just flipping marvellous. The guests equally so. 

Review...

"Absolutely Fabulous ! Totally captured the spirit of the day , shots are just jaw dropping magical. Can't thank you enough.

Will keep in touch and once again thank you , thank you , thank you. xxx

Jools & Dave"

Now how great is that? What a lovely lot.

 

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The Day I Met Magnum

A few weeks ago I managed to get myself onto the Magnum Quiz night in Shoreditch, East London. It was more by luck than judgement. 

I spent an evening talking with a few people, but notably Peter Van Agtmael. I love Peters work and have followed his stuff for a number of years. Disco Nights is one of the greatest books I have ever seen.

I also met Martin Parr, bought his book, had a conversation and asked him about shooting in general. His golden rule is "shoot more crap photos".... You have to shoot crap ones to get good ones. In the same evening I met Abbas and many other great photographers.

The highlight for me is most definitely walking into a back room to find the man who I think is the greatest photographer of all time - Alec Soth. Guess what he was doing? Playing Ping Pong. I got photos to prove it.

I got Alec to sign his book for me and I look star struck. Like a goon.

 

 

Dog day afternoon...

Well what else are Sunday afternoons for other than taking pictures in the living room of the dog?

This is Ted, a Patterdale Terrier. Small in stature with the heart of a lion.

In my eyes, the 60mm is a fine alternative to the 56mm 1.2 that I have tried. Fact is, Fuji do not make bad lenses.

Fuji X-T1 60mm f2.4

Urbex?

Today I was lucky enough to get on a walk-around with my local photography outlet. For the record, they are called Wex Photographic and are based in Norwich. Everyone I have ever dealt with in the past has been a delight (even Ricky Jervais - dont ask..).

Anyway, this "walk" was an Urbex taster around an old disused RAF Camp just outside Norwich called RAF Coltishall. Part of the land and buildings is now owned by The Prison Service for those holidays where meals are provided free, as is the accommodation as it goes..

The place is quite fascinating, but has obviously been raped and pillaged as a lot of the interesting stuff seems to have disappeared. I am happy to say that the usual amounts of tagging and graffiti usually found in such places was not seen. Maybe because its ex MOD land? Them brothers don't mess about...

If you ever get the chance, go take a look. Its well worth it.

Half of the site is now covered in solar panels, literally hundreds of the bloody things.

One day I may have a go at some "unofficial" exploring, I think the buzz from that would be worth experiencing. No heights like bloody tower cranes, scaffolding or crazy shit like that. No Sir, firmly on the ground please.

I have included a few images of the day, all shot on a tripod with slow shutters, low ISO and the Fuji X-T1 with a 16-55 f2.8

 

Night Shooting And Driving Miss Daisy

Last night I was asked by 3 luminaries of night time photography to join them on a "razzaround" in North Norfolk (mostly). 

Having arrived at a pre-determined RVP (I was given directions by Messenger which I could not follow initially). One of the 3 obviously feeling my pain by the questions I was asking about the location sent me a good old fashioned postcode and house number where we parked about 8:30pm, satnav was my saviour. We then proceeded to do an uphill hike of maybe 3 miles (1/3 of a mile, I had a long day) to photograph the structure below.

It was 0 degrees C and the moon was high and bright. Absolutely beautiful in fact. You could see for miles with no extra light.

I learnt a great trick for focussing in low light, rather than just hitting the infinity trail and hoping for the best... 

This one was on a Fuji X-T1 23mm f1.4 ISO 800 for 8 seconds in Raw. Then pulled through Lightroom ever so slightly. 

Next we were off to an old castle which is shown below. We were there for maybe half an hour before I twigged where I actually was! I had visited this place a few times in the daylight hours. Looks a bit different during the day... 

Every now and again one of our party pulled out a Westcott Icelight. Jeez man, it was like he was carrying the sun in his bag! Great for high and low lighting. On high power, I reckon I could get a tan at 50 feet. 

Below was on the same setup as above but with a lens change to the Fuji 14mm f2.8

My original plan was to try and catch the Aurora but the conditions were not right so photographing these places was a very close second.

I cant wait to get out again, soon!

Ps - I earned the title "Captain Slow" for my driving. I am happy about this and I do regularly listen to The Archers.

Yeh Baby. I am taking you back, way back...

Ladies and gentlemen I would like to introduce to you my most recent acquisition. 

This camera is the Minolta Hi-Matic GF. Its the exact same model as I bought from a mate in 1984 with the proceeds of a fruit machine win. It was in opinion my first proper camera. Proper to me meant I had to get the film developed and printed, not by the camera spitting the image on paper out of the top with what seemed like a fly paper front and back.

I am very much looking forward to running my first film through, so far I have managed just 2 shots in 3 days.

This is like attending a confession from my usual digital bodies and lenses. This roll of film has to be taken over time, of things that count. 

Then I will sit back and look at the prints and take myself back to when I was 14 where I could not afford to always get films developed. The act of taking the picture, the setup, the waiting and watching was the fun part for me.

As I get older, I try to be slower with my digital cameras. It seems to be a natural progression that comes with age, getting slower. I think thats why I have recently started shooting stuff with a tripod and ND filters stacked. You cant rush that, you have to think...

Happy happy happy.

Zun Lee - Father Figuire

You know when I say you should watch something? Well here is another instalment.

Simply wonderful.


Crime Scene

2 days ago a whale was trapped on a low tide at Old Hunstanton Beach, it unfortunately died at 8pm on 4th February 2016. 

In the last 2 weeks, there have been a number of whales being washed up and dying on the shoreline in various places in Europe.

2 weeks ago I nearly visited the same beach to see the massive and beautiful whale but opted not to do so.

Today I decided I would go visit the beach, the place that this poor thing lost its life. I wish I hadn't.

The whole place was like a circus. Now I know the whale was dead, but little or no respect was paid to the creature at all. People standing on it, people lifting their kids to sit on it for photos. Just unbelievable. An old boy said to me how he found it awful the way it was being treated like a fairground attraction. Sure come along and take some photos (I did) as its not something you are able to see very often. I get that. But it was once a living thing. Be kind. Don't let your kids disrespect it, don't you disrespect it.

You are adults. We should know better.

I am never pretentious enough to title my own photos. On this occasion I have called this image "Crime Scene" for obvious reasons.  


 

Joel Meyerowitz

Recently I met one of my all time heroes Joel Meyerowitz. He was at a book signing of his classic "Cape Light".

Now if you ever want a masterclass on composition, light and form, he is the man.

Maggie Barrett (Joels wife)  nabbed my camera to capture the moment for me as well. What a bloody fine couple they are.

Things I watch...

Well here is the first blog post (albeit short) for my new website.

This video was made by Jonas Normann, the subject is Joe Aguirre and his making of his forthcoming book "Ether".

I found this absolutely beautiful. You should watch it.