The camera can capture communities and situations for posterity, it also allows you to step back, reflect and comment.The course is very hands on, although we do touch on the theoretical parts of documentary photography. Much of the time you’ll find yourself out shooting single assignments, off to museums and exhibitions, as well as going through your work with the tutor and your fellow students in the computer room (we work in Adobe Photoshop – there will be a short introduction, so no need to know these programs before)…
You can see all upcoming courses here.
I’ve been shooting a few newspaper assignments over the summer. Mostly it’s been portraits as it often is working for the dailies (around 90% of all assignments are portrait related when working in the newspaper industry). It’s always interesting meeting new people and trying to create something in a limited space as well as time with a few, simple remedies. Often the only thing you have available to create something special is light, and in that way it’s one of the purest forms of photography. Not that I’m particularly good at shooting portraits, but I do enjoy it!
Firstly I shot a series at the British Library of a Polish artist couple, Malgosia and Jakub. They showed me a secret garden at the top of the library which was amazing but I promised Malgosia not to tell anyone about it, so can’t say any more I’m afraid.
A week later I went to West London and met with Kasia and her daughter and did a series of them for an article about why immigrants (me included) chose to stay in London instead of going back home.
Finally I went on the hardest assignment so far this year. It was for a story about one of the so-called “transition towns” that are shooting up all over Britain. Smaller towns trying to prepare themselves for another recession by becoming economically self-proficient so they won’t be depending on outside resources for survival (no, we’re not talking doomsday preppers here, simply straight thinking ordinary folks trying to create a bit of balance in the system). This sounded like a dream assignment as there ought to be plenty to shoot, but unfortunately it was also one of those assignments that just didn’t work out because of timing. None of the projects were up and running when I arrived and many wouldn’t be for the next couple of years as it’s all about long-term investments. No matter, I’ll be back to shoot this again. This is what I got (and yeah, I am very pleased with the dog)…
I was commissioned to shoot another series of images for Danish newspaper Information recently.
This story is about young, well educated southern Europeans emigrating to northern Europe in the search for jobs. Me and journalist Mette Rodgers had a chat with Sofía Vieira, Roberto Cacabelos Bote, Tamara Guerrero Feijóo and Raquel Vazquez Santos, a group of friends that have left Spain to try their luck in London.
Here’s a selection.
Not a big fan but remember the day that Joseph Ratzinger and his circus visited London. It was the same day that a low-flying pigeon hit me right in the chest. Very weird day.
The prints are back home and as you can see they are not receiving nearly the same amount of attention as earlier…
The Photographers’ Gallery was the first independent gallery in Britain devoted to photography and today it is the largest public gallery in London dedicated to photography.
I love the big rooms, natural light and the central location (right next to Oxford Circus) of the gallery. Furthermore they have a quite remarkable book, print and photo brick-a-brack shop in the basement with some real gems. I recently stumbled upon a book signing by Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2012 shortlist Rinko Kawauchi and acquired her book ‘ILLUMINANCE‘. Beautiful work!
It was a very strong group of photographers exhibited and genres going off in all directions. One of my favorites were Paula Gortázar’s ‘Common Space’ that ‘depicts the interiors of the European Parliament in
Brussels and Strasbourg, an institution which, despite being little understood
or liked by many citizens, is gaining a prominent role in legislating our
everyday European living circumstances.’ (From the website)
Another excellent piece of work was Nadège Mériau’s makro photography recreating cosmos. Wow!
My good friend and fellow photographer Steve Mepsted dropped by the gallery, snapped these two shots and later retold the whole scene to me…
‘There were a group of kids with their teacher and they were looking at the painted mural image and one boy was saying ‘I swear that’s Photoshop’. The teacher said they didn’t know as the artist wasn’t there. I was able to fill them in on details!! They were delighted and amazed at the image and the boy couldn’t believe it was a painting on such a scale – ‘Shows they’ve got power’ he said!’
Just amazing getting this kind of invaluable feedback!
This has been a great experience and I’m truly thankful that I’ve been a part of it. The staff at The Photographers Gallery have done a great job in pulling this together and especially curator Karen McQuaid for getting it all to run smoothly while having to deal with 22 photographers at the same time, not an easy job I would imagine!
I’m now in touch with a range of galleries, working on getting a solo show up and running while I’m preparing for the next leg of this story that includes a trip to Jordan in the near future. More on this next time.
As a part of my long term project on new media and social revolutions I’ve been visiting Barada TV which is a privately run Syrian television channel broadcasting from London.
Barada TV is available through satellite and online all over Europe and the Middle East and is critical of the Syrian regime. The channel interacts with it’s audience through Twitter, Skype and Facebook and broadcasts videos taken from Youtube, filmed by rebels and activists inside Syria.
I am now working on the next part of the story where I am photographing Syrians in exile and focussing on the way they interact with other Syrians in and outside Syria and how they stay up to date with developments in the conflict.
Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have a question, critique or ideas!
Proud to announce that I’m one of 22 selected in this years FreshFaced+WildEyed annual graduates exhibition.
My work from Syria will be showcased at The Photographers Gallery, (16-18 Ramillies St, London W1F 7LW), from the 15th to the 30th of September.
Here’s more about the judges and my fellow exhibitors (taken from the website):
“The Judges for 2012 are Bridget Coaker, Night Picture Editor, The Guardian and co-founder of Troika Editions; Anthony Luvera, artist, writer and lecturer, Karen Newman, Curator, Open Eye Gallery and Brett Rogers, Director, The Photographers’ Gallery.
This year’s finalists are Brendan Baker & Daniel Evans, Alison Bettles, Anders Birger, David Birkin, Jonny Briggs, Emma Critchley, Helen Goodin, Paula Gortázar, Maria Gruzdeva, Hallgerður Hallgrímsdóttir, Gemma Marmalade, Marianne McGurk, Nadège Mériau, Vilma Pimenoff, Minna Pöllänen, Martin Seeds, Chloe Sells, Alison Stolwood, Elisavet Tamouridou, Helen Thompson, SeoYeoung Won”
See the whole story here: This Damn Weather
and please drop by the gallery!
My exhibition with the London 2012 Inspire Program in London City Hall went well. It’s now taken down to tour a selection of companies, city halls and private venues all partnering with the Inspire Program. Here’s how it was presented…
I’ve been fortunate enough to collaborate with the good people at London 2012 – The Inspire Program – to create a series of images showcasing some of the real people participating in the volunteer programs taking place all over London. These images goes on show at the iconic London City Hall designed by Norman Foster, an architect I feel a special connection to as he also designed the beautiful Elephant House in the Copenhagen zoo. One of my favorite places in the city. You can see a preview of the images below and if you are in London, drop by the city hall from mid-May to see the exhibition. It is of course free of charge.
Boxercise lunch class at Golden Lane
Veronica Franklin Gould, Chief Excutive London Arts Challenge 2012 – a Games-inspired drama workshop involving people with varying degrees of dementia.
Young people excercising at the world’s largest Parkour dedicated facility L.E.A.P, placed in Westminster.
Seeds ready to be sown in Hackney Downs.
Ab Phab Youth Club, for people with and without disabilities, playing Boules in Dagenham.
Georgia from the ‘People’s Record’ project showing her own original Olympic torch from the last London Olympics in 1948.
Mad about Meadows – local volunteers sowing seeds, creating an Olympic Park-inspired meadow in Hackney Downs park.
There are reports of violent clashes and untimely deaths pouring in from all over Syria. These are getting mixed up with whispered rumours and half-truths that are all being fed into a virtual world build of binary ones and zeroes. In this second reality all information is chopped up, mixed together and handed back to the people in bite sized, 140 character packages easy to consume but hard to digest. The people of Damascus live in a world shaped by another world that in reality doesn’t really exist. The only thing real is the fear. The fear of what will come.
This project is an exploration of the modern theater of war. In a reality shaped by a digital battlefield, the roles played are not always clear. Feeding on pieces of often violent and graphic information issued to us from second realities such as Twitter & Facebook, we recreate the world around us and mould it into shapes that bounce off our predetermined mental imagery.
A pair of tired eyes peers over the photo page of my beetroot coloured passport. “Occupation?” he asks me. “Student” I reply.
Next to the custom official hangs a poster showing the Syrian dove caught in mid air, wings spread and proudly carrying an olive branch in its beak, all around it cannons are aiming. Each can- non is branded with one promi- nent news channel logo after the other, CNN, Al Jazeera, BBC. They are all there trying to shoot down the peace dove of the re- gime. Another glance through the passport then my details are thoroughly noted into the sys- tem. First in fluent Arabic, then
in slow shaky capital letters, “TOURIST”, two quick stamps reiterate his verdict. “Welcome to Syria”, he hands back my documents and ges- tures me towards the door.
Syria is a country being swept by a storm that refuses to quieten down and Damascus is the eye of the hurricane. With all tourists long gone the streets are left un- naturally quiet. From walls and rooftops all over town president Bashar Al-Assad and his father Hafez, the leader of the 1970 coup are scouring the city look- ing on from posters and pedes- tals. Here in a city besieged by
secret police and undercover agents the people would never discuss politics openly, instead they refer to old president Hafez as “The Lion King”, this turns Bashar into Simba and the Jack- als are the ones you always fear might be listening in.
Inside the national museum ev- erything is quiet, I’m walking the long empty halls of history cast in clay, iron, silver and gold. A lone guard sits on his footstool surrounded by 10.000 years of history, here are lives lived and lost, battles fought and civiliza- tions crumbled.
Outside in the overgrown garden the last of the evening light throws long shadows of the an- cient stone statues of the ones that were, among them sits one that still is. We talk, he tells me of his life, a good life, well at least it used to be. Things have changed recently.
“It’s because of the weather”, he says, looking me into the eyes. “This damn weather”
There are reports of violent clashes and untimely deaths pouring in from all over the country. These are getting mixed up with whispered rumours and half-truths that are all being fed into a virtual world built of binary
ones and zeroes. In this second reality all information is chopped up, mixed together and handed back to the people in bite sized 140 character packages, easy to consume but hard to digest. The people of Damascus live in a world shaped by another world that in reality doesn’t really ex- ist. The only thing real is the fear, the fear of what will come.
I’m walking through the streets of the old city observing the hopelessness, feeling the ten- sion thick in the air. People look at me like I look at them, here we are all strangers. The act of rais- ing my camera feels like a threat
to shatter this carefully con- structed glass citadel so I tend not to. A street sweeper stops me, he demands to look through my pictures, there is nothing in- criminating there so he nods and lets me go, I hurry down a side street aware of his eyes fol- lowing me.
Looking back I notice anoth- er shadow on my heels, I take a right then a left but he’s still there, our eyes meet and he stops, turns around and gets his phone out, I disappear. My heart is pounding, who was he? I slowly realize that I have become a part of it, this theatre of war.
I’ve been back to see Jeff.
As you can see earlier in this blog, Reverent Jeff Yelland is an Associate Minister of St Paul’s Church in Dorking, Surrey.
I still haven’t found out which direction this story is going. I just know that there’s strong pictures and a even stronger story hidden in there somewhere. Wont get in to writing too much about it right now, better save that for my “Aha-moment”
Ideas are welcome!
How do you define a relationship? What is a relationship? First thought was mother and child, employer – employee, man and woman, man and man… Suddenly the list is endless. People interact with each other every moment of every single day. Even when we’re not together, we interact! But how to capture this in pictures! This single most important human feature, the meeting of two individuals.
I wanted something that had more soul than an office, but at the same time I was attracted to the idea of a workplace. I chose a church. I see priests as people working with and in faith, with and within the soul. Perfect for the assignment and perfect for me personally. Having been brought up without religion, the church and the people within (which of course are the church) always interested me. What was it that made the church? What was it that people claiming god in their heart found there? Is there still a room for the church in our time? Luckily, I’m surrounded by good and generous people and within a day I had a contact. I met with Reverend Jeff Yelland from St. Paul’s church in Dorking and started working right away.
This is an ongoing project, and I’m going back this weekend to shoot some more. I hope to be able to convert this one from a single assignment in to a major project. This is the intro:
The Christian faith that used to be so strong within its many followers seems to be declining in recent years. Today most of the British population know the outside of the church better than the inside. This is not the case with St. Paul’s Church in Dorking. With a congregation of 350 people, which includes 100 children, this church is full almost every Sunday. Come in and meet Reverent Jeff Yellard and see the work of a modern day Vicar.
This week is all about street photography.
After collecting inspiration from masters as Bruce Gilden and Henri Cartier-Bresson and especially their extremely different approaches to the subject, there was not much else to do than to go out guns blazing!
I always hate the first hour out shooting. I’m tense and often too worked up to see what is going on around me. After that hour (and a lot of failed shots) I start to relax, steady my pace and finally open up my eyes. I stop feeling as afraid of people and their reaction to me photographing.
At the best of times I can almost see myself being detached from the street and watch it from the outside, as a scene in a play.
Well, this time I did two shoots each one an hour long, so not much theatre here. The first one was a night shoot in the midst of the chaos on Oxford Street. Second one (the last two pictures in the set) was a day shot around Borough Market.
So the first month, first week and first assignment.
We where told to go find a “Person at work” and find their inner passion or lack of same. I think I found something altogether different.
Bearing in mind that I did two professions, about 4-500 shots of each, edited 80, liked 20 and ended up with four (!) pictures for the blog, you can say that I went through a process.
After showing the 80 edited pictures to my group it was clear that the classic shots didn’t really tickle me pink. It came down to the dark and spooky, underexposed, unsharp pictures…. As usual.
Even though Ruth from “Taking the Leash” was the nicest person and had an amazing contact with the dogs and their owners, I must share these pictures with the world.
Here we go, The Dog Gulag…
Back in London. Four months has gone by since I last made my way through the morning Tube rush. Back then we where going on a journey, this time as well.
This next year I’ll be studying a Masters in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at London College of Communication. I hope this Masters can help me to find my focus through my photography.
In the daily news rush there’s not much time for absorption. I think it’s crucial for our profession as
photojournalists and documentary photographers, that we take the time to understand the background for the stories we are reporting as well as taking the time to get the pictures needed to tell the story properly. If we don’t do this, we can’t demand that our audience should show any interest and appreciation.
I see my camera as a tool to reach out and touch people. Show them what other people are like and what kind of life they wake up to in the morning. I also see my camera as a tool to show people who I am.
I think it’s hard to find the balance between my professional and my personal photography. Luckily it seems that these two are slowly becoming one.
It seems to me that I’m moving away from the classic photojournalistic news picture and into a world of feelings more than explanations. This to me is very interesting.
I will use this forum as a plaza of experiments.
Looking forward to see where it goes.