26 November 2010

I have a Mentor

I have a mentor organised it this morning - we are meeting up Friday next week for an hour. This will help me with my professional practice. I had misunderstood the role of a mentor and after talking it through with Chris I realise I was looking at it from the wrong angle.

I realise that I already have 2 or 3 people that give me advice, guidance and support and are therefore mentors. However to ensure I get the most out of this I decided that I needed to meet up with someone new. This will bring a new aspect to the way I think about my business. I am looking forward to it.

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25 November 2010

Studio Output

Rob Coke - Creative Director

Interesting talk by Rob from Studio Output this afternoon. This is the world I am from and so it all made perfect sense to me. It also helped me realise I am glad I am away from it now. A lot of work and little to show for it was always my impression of working in a design agency and this came through from the way Rob described some of the pitches and campaigns he has overseen.

The Lectern awaits its speaker

The team get Rob wired for action

Here are the brief notes I made:

Whoops didn't realise how bright the screen would be - but look closely in the shadows

I am enjoying the guest lectures. They are providing a much wider and varied group of people this year. Last year seemed mostly to be photographers - which was no bad thing. It is interesting to hear from people that work in other areas of the creative world - helps give you a more grounded view of the world that will be awaiting us when we have finished this course.

Year 2 students are so excited that Sarah attempts to eat her pen ...

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Final image - or not

My response to this brief is to connect with the talk about War Photography and how that made me feel. I needed to create an image that said something that showed the humility and pride people feel for the people that are fighting for us and keeping us safe.

This new recruit is overwhelmed and dwarfed by the oppressive wall of the 16,000 names of soldiers that have died in conflicts. This was an emotional event to witness as the impact of their career choice comes home to them.

Whilst I was visiting the National Memorial Arboretum a group of soldiers stood at attention under the obelisk and I photographed them hemmed in and almost squashed by the surrounding walls.

I am now torn on which to choose to present to Joe Cornish on 8th December.

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23 November 2010

Location Location Location

Hardy Tree, London
Initially I considered going and photographing the Hardy Tree in St Pancras North Cemetery - but after investigating the trains for tomorrow I will not have enough time in the afternoon to get to London before I lose the sunlight.

Madingley, Cambridge
My next idea was to photograph a war cemetery where there will be seried ranks of headstones lined up and creating geometric patterns. I know there is one just outside Cambridge. However I do not want to have to make such an epic journey (approx 2 hours) and once again the light would be fading by the time I arrived.

Arboretum, Alrewas
After a search locally for war cemeteries I discovered the Cannock Chase German War Cemetery, Beecroft Road, Cannock and the National Memorial Arboretum, Croxall Road, Alrewas. I have decided to go the the Arboretum as, although I have never been, I know there are some good photographs to be had there. As it is close to Remembrance Sunday there should still be lots of Poppy Wreaths adorning the memorial. My plan is to go in the afternoon and I hope to stay until the sun begins to fade and see if I cannot capture some stunning shadows.

My plan is to photograph in black and white and get the resulting images produced on the Hahnemuhle Photorag matt A3, a heavy art paper with a fibrous finish (Giclee) or the Kodak Metallic A3 paper this would give it a 3-dimensional feel (C-type) - my choice of paper will be made once I have final image.

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22 November 2010

Practice Shots

In preparation for the shoot tomorrow I have been thinking about what I want to achieve. I want a long exposure so there is movement - but I also want to freeze the action. I will therefore use a long exposure and use the flash. I will begin with the camera in Aperture Priority mode. I had a practise on my cat - but he did not move much!

My plan is to have the horse rolling in the indoor school, kicking up dust as he rolls and then capture him in his most vulenerable position as he gets up onto his feet. My intention is that this will be a dark image - a dark horse in a reasonably dark environment.

Tim Flach

I also want to capture some extreme close-up shots of him - inspired by the Equus images by Tim Flach. This will mean I need to make sure he is clean and tidy and relaxed after rolling in the dust. I have set aside the whole morning to see what I can achieve.

Tim Flach

Tim Flach

Tim Flach

I will be using Canon 5D, Speedlite 580EXII Flash, 24-105mm lens, 50mm macro lens and reflector. I will not be using a tripod or lighting kit, at this stage, as I feel flash and hand-held will achieve what I want. I also need to ensure horse and equipment will be safe. If I feel I need to use lighting I will borrow a kit and have provisionally booked a second visit for Friday afternoon - if it is required - if not we are going out for a ride.

I have a couple of ideas for the tag line at this stage but until I see the images I am not sure which to use.

Costings are coming along fine and tomorrow I will negotiate how much the session will cost.

I have a set of still life images in my head that I would like to take. These will be to support the main image (or replace it if it does not go as expected).

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Images of War

As promised the images from the War Photography talk.

'Belfast Dots' www.choppedliver.org.uk

'After Life' www.choppedliver.org.uk

'The Day Nobody Died' www.thedrawbridge.org.uk

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Struggling with Connections

I need to think more about the image I need to produce in response to the brief 'Connections". 

I had an idea which requires permissions to be obtained and palms to be crossed with silver - this has not happened to date and as I am running out of time I will put that onto a back burner. It is a personal project that I will get to in my own time I think. I had a Plan B - but the more I thought about it the more contrived it seemed and I did not feel the passion for it. 

After the talk on War Photography on Thursday I watched the 'Genius of British Art' programme on BBC Four. This week it was John Snow looking at the work of War Artists. This programme brought tears to my eyes and did everything the images I saw on Thursday did not.

Queen and Country 
Steve McQueen has produced an art installation - a set of stamps showing the face of every life that has been lost in the current conflict in Iraq. There has been a petition to allow these stamps to be issued but they have been held back. Is this because we do not want to confront the fatalities at our breakfast table? To see those that have died for us on envelopes sitting on our breakfast table? 

The piece is stunningly simple and breathtakingly emotional. It shows us the dutiful soldier, the individual, the loved person - not the broad brush sweeping words or images that we are used to about war. It is personal, it is in your face. It shows the people as individuals not as numbers. Perhaps it was held back because it is too personal, too intimate, too tangible. Do we think that war is better in stone? Are we happier dealing with it when it is a monument, when it does not have a face?

Hardy's Tree
Thomas Hardy, apprentice architect in Convent Garden was sent to tidy up St Pancras North Cemetery as the northern railway line was going straight through it. He arrived, stacked all the headstones against a tree, tapped a number onto each headstone and then went off to write poetry. 100 years later the tree has wrapped itself around the headstones - protecting and caressing them. It may not show the horrors of war - but it is full of emotion.  


I now feel fired up to photograph something that shows war from this side of the equation. The love, the caring, the compassion, the need to grieve, the grief, the tenderness, the pride.

The Connection will be between the talk and my response to it.

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Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin

The Day Nobody Died 
Whitechapel Gallery, London 

I was going to adorn this piece with images - but I shall leave it as my notes and thoughts. I shall put images in another blog. 

Adam and Oliver are war photographers and have worked together on 6 books. They talked through three bodies of work. Belfast, After Life and The Day Nobody Died.

Photography and war are linked - in both you are shooting people.
The camera is part of the event - if it is there it is impacting on what is happening.

Belfast Dots - they printed the parts of the negatives that had been hidden by the sticky dots on the contact sheets. These photographs had originally been taken by the people of Belfast during the troubles in the 70s and 80s.
After Life - using the original contact sheet they showed what had happened to each of the men during the 36 exposures the photographer had taken at the time the 11 men were shot dead. The photograph was taken in August 1979 showing the Kurdish prisoners being executed by firing squad.
The Day Nobody Died - they took 50m of photographic paper to the front line and exposed the paper (in the style of a photogram) to be "a register of the time rather than of the meaning".  

I left this talk feeling angry, disappointed, insulted and disgusted in equal measure.
Disappointed that they did not show us any of their photography within these three bodies of work. In Belfast and Afterlife the photographs were manipulations they had done to other peoples photographs. And in The Day Nobody Died the exposed paper showed abstract splodges of colour and only made sense when accompanied by a talk or viewing the video - but that made little sense until you were given the context. I felt that they were curating not creating work. I felt cheated. They said they were being subversive by showing nothing in their images.  
Disgusted by having to watch the 4 you tube videos which showed people being killed or dying. I very nearly got up and left. After seeing those videos however I did expect their work to better that in some way, with sympathy, with facts, with information, with something. I was also disgusted to see British Soldiers being used to carry around their box of light sensitive paper. 
I am in awe of what people will do to protect and help others. I believe that we should congratulate and celebrate what people are sacrificing by being a Solider. Suffering deserves a witness. On a day somebody did die to come back with just a splodge is just insulting.
I understand that to be heard, to be noticed, you have to be controversial - but to have gone to all that trouble to get to the front line and to come back with splodges does not do justice to what the men and women over there are doing for us. They asked "Do we think we are at war?" "Are we too removed?" There was discussion about how the media (and the MoD) sensor images taken. We might feel we are not at war as the images we see on TV and in newspapers show smiling soldiers - we do not see the horror. But it would take a foolish person not to realise what is going on. In my opinion it is the job of the war photographer to risk their life to show us what is happening, to show us the reality, to show us the truth. I do not feel this body of work does that. 
Lesson learned:
That even if something is not to my taste or of interest it can fire you up enough to try something new for yourself. Either in reaction against it or to show how you could do it better. I shall never pass up the opportunity to go to things I do not like the sound of in future.

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I prepared the 'mini' portfolio and packed the portfolio book I had created over the summer and took them to London. Although meeting a Photography Agent it was not appropriate to show him my work at that time. He will view my work when he visits us again in early December - so I shall save it all till then. I have shown the 'mini' portfolio to others and they are impressed - but then they are not agents or people that will give me work. But it is always nice to get feedback on items you have prepared. 

I am looking forward to showing Frede Spencer my work but do not think he will be impressed - having seen the photographers he represents and the work he admires I know that my work will not be up his street at all. But I will be interested to receive his feedback. 

I am finding it very difficult to find really small memory sticks (USB flash drives) I want some that are about 256MB rather than 4GB. This is so I can put 20 odd images onto it and show to people and not be upset about leaving it behind. I have investigated getting my logo printed onto them so that they act as a marketing tool for me. It was suggested to me that I might find unbranded ones on ebay. I will investigate that. 

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Trip to London to have a look around The Print Space on Kingsland Road E2.

The Print Space team

What an overwhelming variety of papers, finishes, mounts, ideas and inspiration David introduced us to. My head nearly exploded. I was very impressed with the matt papers with black and white images on them, particularly portraits. The blacks are so deep that you feel you could fall into them. Black and white images on the metallic paper were lifted into another world. All I need now is some stunning black and white images. The variety of mounts was incredibly interesting and will be useful when it comes to preparing work for exhibiting. 

I had taken my memory stick with 9 images on and got them all printed on C-type Fuji Matt 12"x16" paper. These will go into my portfolio. 

Also it was lovely to find time to meet up with a very dear old friend. But just an hour is never long enough.

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Right up my Street

Whilst at Print Space Frede Spencer Photography Agent who runs Twenty Twenty called in to give talk through a brief. 

Frede Spencer
He requires an image for an advertising campaign for one of the Olympic Sponsors. This needs to be ready to show him when he comes up to Nottingham on 7th December. 

With this brief he wants us to appreciate the work an agent does for a photographer and to that end we need to cost up the shoot for the campaign. This is the sort of work I used to do so I am right on this.

I instantly got an idea having seen the list of sponsors, this coupled with inspiration from the 'From Back Home' exhibition yesterday. Whilst waiting for images to be printed I sent a text to someone who could help me. They agreed and I have arranged a photo shoot for Tuesday morning.  

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17 November 2010

Blue Canvas

Received the three blue square canvases from 1clickprint in Sheffield today. They are miles better than the Jessops canvases. This is a shame as I like dealing with Jessops. Unfortunately they have let me down twice now with the printing of these canvases. I am now returning one of the reprinted canvases. The order was placed on 22nd October and it is for a customer. Thankfully it is a customer who is patient and who appreciates that the hold up is caused because I am not happy with the product and they are failing on a quality control issue. Jessops canvases were arriving with white speckles on them. In some places where a large area of ink has not printed onto the canvas they have coloured it in. It is VERY noticeable on these abstract blue square images.

1clickprint not only have no speckles, the colours are good, the frames are chunky, they smell lovely, they were wrapped in lots and lots of bubble wrap to protect them and they were cheaper. The order was placed on 5th November and so took 7 working days to fulfill. I know where my business is going in the future.

Images created as 30x30cm square canvases
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Our Day Out

A coach trip to Bradford should not include scenes like these:

Lisa and Chris do a risky thing

A door to nowhere

Aliens spotted 5 miles north of Sheffield

Rich tries his hand at haute couture

Highway Patrol check we are all OK

This is Georgina trying to keep warm

"I've got the keys mate"
We are going to London tomorrow - I have my fingers crossed that it is an easy and warm journey.
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Ian Beesley

What a great talk from an entertaining and engaging man.

Ian signed Chris's book
Top tips from Ian:
  • experiment
  • always think professionally
  • develop contacts and networks 
  • build portfolio
  • work on your USP
  • learn to present yourself - it will make or break your career
  • you are not just a photographer - you have to sell yourself

"It's more than being a good photographer, you have to be good at photography."

I will add my notes from Ian's presentation once I have written them up - they are currently on scraps of paper.

As promised - my notes. Please excuse the wonky writing in places as I was on the train!

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Land Revisited

Fay Godwin
National Media Museum, Bradford

Beautiful images - this is more like it. I love the fact that she was not afraid to position her subject dead centre in some of her images. Black and white film gives you the freedom to photograph on days that are not beautiful and clear with blue skies. A grey, cloudy sky works very well. My two favourite images from this exhibition are:

Copper Beech, Stourhead Lake, Wiltshire 1983

Royal Military Canal 1971

Are they my favourites because of the lines? Is this my love of Rothko showing?

Fay was meticulous with her prints - sometimes throwing away boxes of prints until she had a perfect one.

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From Back Home

Anders Petersen and JH Engstrom
National Media Museum, Bradford

Varmland is sparsely populated - but they all seem to be out of focus. The people involved in the images in this exhibition were involved in either birth, death or sex. I did not enjoy this exhibition. People in the images seemed to mostly be showing off and not engaging with the photographer in any meaningful way. The images looked much better printed and mounted on the wall than they did in the book. Not my taste at all. They were capturing the mundane and for me that is just not interesting enough. 

JH Engstrom said: "Maybe you can't really go back home. But this is where I'm from. These images pay homage to the people and landscape that are my origins. I've returned to something my body and emotions recognise." There were no outstanding images in his set. 

Anders Petersen's work had one image that really stood out for me - the horse getting up after rolling - and it was the image they had used at the entrance to the exhibition.

Also at the entrance were copies of books both men have produced. 'Cafe Letmitz' by Anders Petersen contained a wonderful set of images. Taken between 1968-1970 and published in 1978 they show cafe life. Once again they are photographs of people engaged in birth, death and sex - but they are much stronger and evocative.

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16 November 2010

Come Clean

Given a brief to photograph a Burton based business capturing the architectural and design qualities of the business along with photographing the owner, a worker or a customer.

Read through the list of ideas on the brief and was instantly attracted to the idea of photographing a funeral parlour. Found that most local funeral parlours are owned by Co-op Funeral Services so decided to look for a smaller locally owned business. Was attracted to the idea of a launderette.

Come Clean
Come Clean is  the other side of the River Trent - picked up a lighting kit; packed up my Canon 5D and set off. This involved a long walk to the River as I could not fit a lighting kit and an assistant into my car.

Arriving at Come Clean Launderette had a look to see how busy the shop was. There were 3 people in so we stepped in and began chatting. After chatting to the owner and the two ladies working for him we were given permission to set up as long as we did not photograph him. He said he was wanted by the police - which made everyone laugh. 

I instantly fell in love with the dark green chairs against the orange painted panelling.


We set up the lighting kit and the camera. After the direction from Julian last month I am much happier and confident handling the lighting kit.

The launderette was a very small space and was actually quite well lit - but the lighting was really lifting the images (as far as I could tell on the small screen on the back of the camera). Used the snoot and experimented with the umbrella as some of the images were looking a little over-exposed and  bright. Also experimented with adjusting the levels on the light and also tried  with facing it away from the object and bouncing it off walls/ceiling. 




I am very happy with the images I captured. I tried to capture images that were not my 'usual' style. I did manage this because Julian could not decide which were the ones I had taken and which were Steph's.

I was anxious approaching the people in the shop and actually backed away from doing it. I know this is because of what has been happening recently - my confidence is low at the moment. Glad I did this in pairs as we were able to work off each other's strengths.

I will use the images I captured to create a magazine layout. I will take the orange in the images and use that for the colour of the heading and prepare some text to support the images. Rosalind was very chatty and I will record some of our conversation. I will update my blog with the magazine spread - might be the weekend before I do that.

Here is my magazine layout. I did a dps for a magazine called Dwell - they like to keep it real so I thought an article about laundrettes would fit in with their editorial style. I enjoyed doing this.

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13 November 2010

Business Cards

I have ordered some more business cards from Moo.com. I attended the second Network for Local Business Breakfast meeting on Friday morning. Two things came out of that for me to work on: 
  • I need to tighten up my 60 second presentation; and 
  • Think about my business cards.
The original business cards were created before I had fixed on the logo I use. The elements are there but they are just not all together. I created 30 different images for the backs of the card and this on the front:

I had received an email from Moo saying that they were offering 30% off this weekend. Whilst I was in an ordering mood I decided to create some stickers as well. I will use these when wrapping products clients have ordered from me - I will use them to hold the tissue paper together.

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11 November 2010

Fashion Shoot

Had a lot of fun photographing a variety of outdoor, sporting and leisure wear at Branston Water Park and Barton Marina yesterday.

We worked in a team and as a team - each contributing to every aspect of what we needed to do: choosing location, positioning model, dressing model, best way to show off clothes, use of lighting, use of camera.

Here's the team work:

I am very quickly discovering that the professional practice days, whilst they are very entertaining and excellent days to learn new techniques, are not teaching me anything about running a photography business that I did not already know. I believe that if I was in my early 20s then this would be invaluable and I would appreciate being able to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes in a safe environment where people will help you out. However I think I already have these skills.

In the future I will slightly refocus how I make use of these sessions so that I get the most out of them for me. I do thoroughly enjoy them.

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These are some of my favourite shots of the clothes from the day: