Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Excuse me, can I take a photograph please?

Confused about when and where you can take a photo? Even perhaps confused about who you can photograph? I am and I'm meant to know.

What I do know is this; the BBC are talking rubbish with this
It's utter nonsense that you need to get a model release for a photo taken of someone if it's for personal use or 'editorial' use (i.e not advertising or endorsing a product).

The government as you are probably aware equate photograph taking with terrorists making a recce for an attack. Remember the poster asking you to report suspicious activity aka people taking photographs? No one has produced any evidence that terrorists actually photograph their targets. None. At all.

I love the idea that someone might think I appear "odd". Heavens, they won't be the first, but has any real terrorist been apprehended in the act of taking a photograph? Do terrorists use tripods and assistants and reflectors? (I asked this very question when I was quizzed by a police officer as I was photographing a gardener outside the Garden Museum earlier this year. His reply was "You can't be too careful". ) Oh gawd.
The home secretary's latest wheeze is Operation Argus. I won't go into detail here, other than to point you towards this site

The energy put behind disseminating the idea that photography is somehow suspicious or dubious is extraordinary. So much so, that the Home Secretary can make photographing a police officer a criminal offence. Why does our government 'export' the idea of democracy (to those who may or may not want it) when it's busy dismantling and curtailing it at home?
And why is the opposition so  quiet about what is happening? Do we really need more paranoia? And isn't the spread of paranoia one of the terrorist's aims?

Just a quickie William

At last I've seen your silver winner, reproduced below (© Bill Jackson). Thoroughly deserving, though you should have got a gold.
The other winners of the RPS 152nd international print award can be viewed  here

Tuesday, 28 April 2009


In 1998 I visited, quite by accident, a home for retired Catholic nuns, stuck far out in the bush in eastern Zimbabwe. I met there a number of incredibly brave and resourceful women who had been retired from their jobs as nuns and nurses and drivers in the missions.
They told harrowing tales from the war for independence, having to treat wounded freedom fighters (which was against the law) and being threatened with death if they didn't. On the other side, the security forces demanded to know when they came into contact with the insurgents, so they were piggy in the middle of a nasty conflict. They told me about their establishment back in the 1930's when it was decided that it was time for African sisters to take their vows and take over the duties of the missions from their European sisters. The last surviving nun from the original six is Sister Vincentia Munengwa, (the fourth, below). She had had to retire aged 80 after breaking her leg in a game of football. The other three nuns are: Sister Ludovic Davanhana, Sister Joseph Chipengo, and Sister Anonciata Chikono.

Polaroid film, Elephants & Zimbabwe

Gosh, all the 665 film has gone, and to a great home too. It's going to be used to photograph elephants, though not as Avedon did.
More about the photographer and this project later.
I once photographed elephant in the Lake Kariba are in Zimbabwe, on a 5x4 plate camera, using type 55 film. Not the easiest task, and given that I only had a standard lens not ideally equipped either. In fact the results were rather poor, one disadvantage of nearly always working with a standard lens. Also, elephants aren't always in a cosy frame of mind, and photographing them is not straight forward, especially when on foot. Don't try this at home. I had more joy with landscapes and some are shown below. 
During the search for the 665 poly, I came across 4 boxes of Type 55, dated from November 2008, so relatively new.
Get in touch if you are interested, my e mail is over on the right side of the page. What better medium could you ask for to shoot your own landscapes?

Monday, 27 April 2009

Polaroid 665

Looks as if I'm going to have to let you go.
So if anyone needs some Polaroid 665 (neg/pos),  I'll be selling my remaining stocks, just over 100 packs. My e mail is on the right of the page.

In the Summertime

My route to work often takes me through Parliament Square, and it's been a hectic place recently with marches and protests, and the view spoilt by the high vis jacket brigade. How lovely to turn the corner, less than half a mile away from Westminster, and see the scene below, in Vincent Square, home of the RHS.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Chelsea Flower Show.

That time of year again, hip hip hooray. Chelsea Flower Show is looming. It's part of The Season in Britain, a great many people visit the show to look at show gardens and things for gardens like parasols, chairs and tables, summer houses, even plants. Huge numbers of people visit the show to look at people visiting the show (The Queen visits too), and there is always a sprinkling of the great good and famous, though only a few are all three.
It's a fine place to spot hats and outfits too, and you may even trip over some of the hundreds of photographers photographing everything that moves and everything that just sways in the breeze. A familiar sight is the beret of garden photographer Andrew Lawson, and you may even glimpse the sunglasses of Paula Deitz. Mind you don't trip over any of the tripods or ladders that the photographers use.
Look carefully too, for there are some very real and wonderful gardeners lurking amongst the crowds. A glass of champagne to whoever can reveal the identity of the owner of the right hand below. Clue: she's a Real Gardener.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Dear William,

Do you remember a couple of weeks ago? I set off to shoot a suit in the City. What a palava, and don't people take themselves seriously these days? 
I asked the poor chap to smile, and was told by the hovering PR: 
"Our directors don't smile in photographs". 
'Why ever not?' I asked. 
"In case the press put a smiling photo next to bad news" he replied.
'What photo will they put next to good news then?' I asked. 
Silence reigned.

Lighten up chaps. Bailey once said he didn't take himself too seriously but took the work seriously. Bravo! I agree.
I dare say Bill that you've had your fair share of ludicrous demands made upon you. Must be the photographers lot. One short plump film director ordered my camera higher, he didn't like a camera to be lower than his chest. At the same time, he put a recording device in his cinema to record our conversation in there. Really! 
I love the Nigel Parry story when he asked actor Tommy Lee Jones to smile Lee Jones replied; 
"There ain't nothing funny to laugh about round here son" or words to that effect. What a cracker of a line.

Mike Leigh refused to look anywhere but at the camera, but still managed to engage endearingly. He said it looked pretentious to look away from the lens. Funny how Directors are uncomfortable with being directed themselves. 

Must dash, am off to shoot another 'suit'. Her press office have requested that I and my assistant dress and address the subject accordingly, because they are a VIP. I'm sure I don't have to dress the subject, and I'm even more sure with four prime ministers, a few members of the Royal family, and one God under my belt, I know how to address someone.
And no, you won't have heard of the subject.
I'm off to practice my curtsy. Do you cross the right leg over the left of the other way round?


One from the archives. I uncovered these Polyfoto contact sheets the other day, made on sprocketless 35mm film, in a batch of 48 images per contact sheet. An acetate cover numbers the frames making it simple to place orders. Often found in the larger department stores (remember 'Gamages'?) they went out of fashion as photo booths came into operation. This sheet is from 1958. Possibly one of the better set of photos of me and my sister to be found.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Photographer Daggett.

Thirteen year old Henry Daggett has been out with his camera again, coming up with with this gloriously surreal set of images of a toy London taxi cab. You can't escape noticing a hint of Angus McBean about his approach.
His inspiration came from the the one and only Dis, whose family car is a taxi. (You can see Dis' blog by hitting his icon, it's over there on the right of this page, under 'followers', and learn all about owning one of these vehicles.
Don't miss the video clip below, it's a cracker.
Happy Easter to one and all.

All images of the taxi above are © Henry Daggett 2009. Please respect his copyright.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Dear William,

Good to see you and D the other night, though isn’t that place noisy? Poor acoustics plague modern restaurants these days where you have to shout to be heard above the next door table who are shouting too, and so on.

Terrific news about the silver medal you won. Shame they don’t get Brenda to present the awards. Still, quite an achievement, and I’d love to pop a copy of it up on the blog for all to marvel at. Isn’t photography supreme when it hits the spot?

Last night the AoP awards took place, apparently a very prestigious event in their calendar. Are you a member? Or do you see these things as GM did and refuse to join any place that would have you as a member anyway? I can’t help thinking that I’m not really a club person either. When Jerry's in Blacks he tells me he keep thinking what a lovely place it could be if half the membership were given the old heave ho. Still, it's marginally better than a lot of places I suppose.

Spent a fruitless day yesterday trying to get the desired results on JB’s printer with a couple of fancy art papers.  Wasn’t it so much more straightforward with film and all that stuff? Still,without digital there would be no blog would there?

Off to shoot a city type today in the unattractive Bishopsgate complex. What an awful looking jumble of buildings that is. Still, I love the challenge of making a suit look interesting, and I’ll be using film, always a pleasure these days.TP XX



Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Write on into 2009

What price a good or even great author photo? Is there a literary equivalent of buying a bottle of wine because you like the picture of the wine grower? Below are Sadie Jones, Melissa Jones, Colleen McCullough, and  Amanda Craig.