Winning

It’s been a while since I wrote anything and yet so much has been happening. Fringe festivals:-

trips to Bonn and



Nairobi..

But to top it all off, I have won Clapham studios Portrait competition for my off-camera flash study of Sharon Lawrence, actress 



I am delighted of course, and I’m now considering how best to use my prize, 8 hours free studio time.  I like the idea of attempting to get a magazine involved and a camera supplier to lend me some fancy new lens to review ..wishful thinking perhaps, but keep reading you never know you could be involved ..

Vanity Fair?

It’s been a very rewarding week for my photography, not in the financial sense although that may come later, but I’ve had a lot of positive reaction to my images from the latest film shoot.

In addition, in an attempt to build impetus on a Facebook page I manage, I have been promoting my own and others work, with the result that my social media friends are getting very familiar with my images and I supect are starting to think I’m a little vain!

When the producer of the film your working on chooses your work and creates such a wonderful poster image from them, it’s hard for it not to go to your head.

On Sunday we were at the BFI for a screening of Up&Up Productions “Chance” starring our good friend Clifford Hume.  http://www.bfi.org.uk/flare

Did I mention leading photojournalism agency VIIPhoto are looking for new members ? I think I’ll apply….

Rock Genius

The joy of killing time in London before going to an event, besides finding a bar that is, is being able to pop into somewhere like the Natural History Museum. You know, the sort of place that we might have been lucky to be taken to on a school trip , but found utterly boring compared to the adolescent excitement of being both out of school and away from parents.

Avoiding the crowds taking selfies with a replica dinosaur  we wandered into the Mineral collection room.

There we were, stepped back in time to see the Museum as it was in 1881 with its original oak cabinets faithfully retaining Alfred Waterhouse’s original architectural vision. Here lay vast arrays of every type of rock and mineral.  Yes there are enormous emeralds and glittering gold, but most of all there were low cabinets of what appeared to me to be rocks and more rocks.   Not a place for art here!  No diamond encrusted Damien Hirst or Tracey Emin bed .. This is geology 🙂  Doubt we will be here long! Cracking building though !

Oh hang on … What’s this amongst the giants of rock ? 

The legend that is Mr John Berger. His is the only book of art criticsm I’ve ever read and understood 🙂 So much so, that after being recommended it back in the early 1980’s, I always quote John whenever I’m trying to impress in an art gallery!  Well, there are “Ways of Seeing, Ways of Seeing my friend”.

An inspiration on International Women’s Day

Master Photographer Eve Arnold OBE Hon. FRPS.  As is my way, I was rummaging through the library shelves for my next read, when I stumbled upon Eve’s classic 2002 Film Journal. The journal presents a collection of her most iconic images of Hollywood stars spanning 50 years from Joan Crawford and Marilyn Monroe to Isabella Rossellini and Anjelica Huston.

From the early fifties, Eve was a full-time member of Magnum Photos. This meant invites from such high liners as Life Magazine to do picture stories of the stars which involved spending sometimes weeks shadowing the ageing or the no longer glamourous.

It’s compelling reading.  In my small way, I recognise the situational problems she needed to deal with.  Trying to avoid taking a shot when the camera is rolling, not getting in the line of sight of actors or the anxious review of work to see if the shot worked.

Most of all though, what I get from this book is her sense of integrity. She gave Joan Crawford original negatives of shots that would not have flattered her when she could have sold them for a packet. They were brilliant photos but she knew it was more beneficial to give Joan full editorial control without her knowledge , rather than take advantage. It’s an inspirational  model for me. I’ve carried the book with me all week, it’s my new bible.

It’s motivated  me to re:approach producers. This is sooo the style of photography I want to pursue.  To be immersed in the film, the production and photo the stars honestly.

I’m delighted to say that  Enrico Tessarin Producer of The Habit of Beauty , directed by Mirko Pincelli has invited me to join his crew on the 16th.  How cool is that !

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Habit-of-Beauty/1549356952011413

 


Alcatraz Yarn

Had a break from the blog recently, as I was on a family trip to San Francisco.  I was surprised to find the weather glorious for February in a city renowned for its cool Summers and rolling fog.  Clearly a trip to Alcatraz Island was on the must-do list!

Alcatraz Island
Alcatraz Island

You buy a ticket for the boat over to the Island including an Audio tour and your allowed to freely take photographs.  Famous for unlikely heroes such as Al Capone and The Birdman (apparently not liked by anyone, guards or inmates) it wasn’t too busy and  I could happily stick my lens through the bars and snap away.

The cells are only 9ft by 5ft wide and although it was hard to imagine the place occupied by menacing folk, I could well imagine the prospect of years confined up in a darkend cell, with the thought of the city of San Francisco so close and unobtainable, that some prisoners would take the opportunity to take up a hobby such as painting.

One such prisoner was George Heck, you can see his cell below in which they now exhibit copies of his work.

George Heck Cell
George Heck Cell

George was banged up in Alcatraz for kidnapping, from March 1944 until 1952 and remarkably he was allowed to exhibit his work in San Francisco whilst still an inmate in 1949. Four of his works were in fact sold.

I imagine one attraction for Heck was to add colour to his cold, metallic surroundings and to get down on paper his hopes and dreams of what lay so agonising near across the bay in San Fran.

These days San Francisco is obviously a place teeming with colour and culture including all the arts and we weren’t disappointed  when we headed through Golden Gate Park for our evening at the California Academy of Science. Heading past the De Young Fine Arts museum, and its distinctly cold tower, this splash of colour caught my eye.

Streetcolour - Bike Rack
Streetcolour – Bike Rack

Its clearly a bike rack, but look, it’s not photobombing the exhibition of the late Keith Haring.  (Keith of “Crack is Wack” and colloborator of Grace Jones, Andy Warhol and William S. Burroughs, was a young graffitti influenced New York artist, who died tragically young in 1990 at aged only 31. )

It’s actually known as Yarnbombing!  The street art of decorating objects with knitted yarns in bright colours. It has been Yarnbombed by De YOUNG’S recent artist in residence, the street artist “Streetcolour” https://streetcolor.wordpress.com/https://streetcolor.wordpress.com/

I’d like to think there was another inmate at Alcatraz who like Heck wanted to add colour to his existence there, but took up knitting and yarnbombed his cell instead !   I’ll let you know if I discover them 🙂

Sunday DIY

Paint Brushes
Paint Brushes

Ah Sunday, often in the past spent redecorating, adding value to the homestead.  I’m quite happy painting.  Adding colour to a wall, covering the space with a clean new colour.  Nothing particularly tricky, just keep brushing on the paint and taking care near the edges. Radio on, maybe a live footy game , Kasabian’s new album, sadly no longer interested in Top 40 show.  These brushes shall now forever remain unused in the garage, they have done their work, they are retired.

The form of painting below however, interests me immensely! Look at the size of it! It’s almost industrial in size. In fact, I took this sneaky pic at the Royal Opera House ‘s Production Park site at Purfleet in Essex today. It was taken on my iPhone through the glass window. It’s actually scenery for an upcoming Brecht / Weills production. Set designs by Es Devlin. It really is too cool.

image (1)

Now I would be quite happy helping to paint scenery, like we used to in the old days at Petersfield Youth Drama group. We would paint the grey panels for the backdrops and were proud ! Granted I wouldn’t suggest I could attempt to paint this production piece but I would definitely like to photograph the people who do and hear their stories!

The production park at Purfleet houses the UK’s first ever National Skills Academy for technical and stage crafts for the performing arts and is home to the Royal Opera House’s costume store and workshop with it’s outlandish outfit and wigs. Previously, the production workshops were based in Stratford, London  but were forced to relocate due to the need for space for the 2012 Olympics. This is exactly the subject area that I am interested in. Performers, artistes, carpenters, engineers, all the people whose skills go in to making the performances the highlight of our year or even lives. To capture them in their glory and their despair.

image (2)

 

Thinking Photographs

photo 2
British Museum, London

Our friend Sharon Lawrence was in town on Wednesday seeing her agent, so I was thinking : what a photo opportunity! So with my new “let’s make it happen” creative head on, I arranged to jump out of work for a couple of hours and take some spontaneous shots when she had finished her meeting at lunchtime. It seemed straightforward enough. Just have an early lunch break and finish later.

Spontaneous? Really? I was up and out at 7am, having laid awake an hour or more running through scenarios in my head, my mind jumping between how am I going to achieve this sandwiched between a busy work day , including a presentation going by the tongue in cheek title “finance is fun”, How’s the weather looking? Have I enough ideas for locations, spot metering, focus on the eyes, continous shooting, Raw/JPEG , sunny day no need for flash, and bugger I have to be back to run a project meeting at 3pm.

So this was going to be essentially unrehearsed , out of a studio, amongst the public, no time to check and re-check settings, it could all go horribly wrong but maybe it might work! And my word it gets the creative mind working ! Location? Background? Where is the light? “Excuse me sir would mind you mind smoking your cigarette somewhere else, your spoiling my shot ?” Frankly, if he had been better looking I may have asked him to pose with Sharon ! It was very cold yesterday and so I was concerned to try and get indoor somewhere if possible but that’s no easy task just to walk into places such as RADA and start firing away , and although we could shoot in the British Museum I wasn’t allowed to use my Yongnuoa Digital Speedlite YN565EXII there ( I feel I should mention my kit from time to time), although we were only moved on when we were blocking some steps.

photo 1
Sharon Lawrence

It really was cold and the last thing Sharon needed was to be asked to sit down and pose on a piece of lumpy metal, but obliging that’s exactly what she did. This “lump of iron” is actually quite a famous piece of Art , it’s called “Piscator” by the Scottish sculptor and Pop Art founder and artist Sir Eduardo Paolozzi KBE RA.  You may know his massive piece, “The Statue of Newton” just round the corner in the piazza at The British Library.  Piscator was installed on the forecourt of Euston station in 1980  was made in homage to the expressionist theatre director Edwin Piscator. See how these things come together…? When I got back to work my boss asked me ” how was your lunch?”…”err, it was ok , have the guys from Exchequer Finance arrived yet?” It was pretty cool actually! IMG_6290 IMG_6288 http://www.pwalkerphotography.co.uk

Never too old ?

Queen Charlotte Statue, Queen Garden, Bloomsbury, London
Queen Charlotte Statue,
Queen Garden, Bloomsbury, London

 This is my first attempt at a blog and whilst I’m not a youngster I am no spring chicken either and approach the idea of sharing ideas on photography with trepidation. Even before I was born, the world had seen its fair share of wonderful photographers such as Beaton, Bresson, and Bailey. Now, with the availability of modern digital photography equipment, applications and editing techniques, not a day goes by without seeing great shots, sometimes taken with just a mobile that I sometimes wonder if there is any point trying to turn my passion into a career. So many young creative minds, inventing new ideas and formats for taking and presenting images that one wonders: can I keep up, let alone come up, with something new that people will take notice of?

Well, they say that life is short and if you really want something then you must go for it, and it’s never too late  – so here goes …

The photo on the left I took on Wednesday,  in my lunch hour as I’d taken the decision to start taking my camera to work each day. After all I’m supposed to be a photographer and I should be out and about as much I can, shouldn’t I?  I work in Bloomsbury as an Accountant and within a few minutes I can walk to St.Pancras Station, or the British Library and there are an abundance of gardens and squares with their historic statues and busts of famous people to enjoy, though I rarely do. The square outside my office is Tavistock Square where, along with Fredda Brilliant’s famous figure of Gandhi, we also have busts of Virginia Woolf and the surgeon Dame Loisa Aldrich-Blake.   When you see the sculpture of Gandhi, there is no doubt that it is him, he is iconic and one of the most famous and easily identifiable figures in history.  You may know Virginia Woolf but would you recognise her bust? As for Dame Aldrich-Blake, I had to look her up as I didn’t know that she was a distinguished surgeon, let alone DID I know what she looked like!

So when I was considering where to walk,  I read a story about Queen Square that intrigued me.  The story goes that the square was originally named Queen Anne’s Square, because the statue there  (the one in my photo above) was identified as being that of Queen Anne, however it turned out that it was in fact that of Queen Charlotte, who was consort to King George III. I liked this idea of a mistaken identity, so, I took myself off to take the shot.

Over the last couple of years I have taken many, many shots of people , but have I been successful at conveying the character of that person? Would you recognise them? Do you know any more about them?  I have taken pictures of actors in studios and actresses on film sets but I want to develop this area and produce a series of pieces combining the photographic images with written and audio pieces with the person. Images that capture them not just in action on camera but also during the before, such as in rehearsals and after – the exhaustion and elation of a succesful performance.

So , it is with thanks if you have read this far, that I’ll let you know when I have written my first photo piece.  I  have a shoot with a talented actress this weekend, so perhaps this will be the start of a new career for someone not quite over the hill.