Monday, 27 September 2010

Looks Familiar.

If you look like one of your parents, you must tire of the "you look just like your mother" greeting made by each new acquaintance. Predictably, it's exactly what issued forth from me when I went to photograph novelist Anna Stothard (above). Her second novel, The Pink Hotel, is being published by Alma Books next March, and is loosely based on her experience of living in LA for two years.
A few years back I photographed Anna's mother (also a writer), Sally Emerson, so apologies for the foot in mouth comment (perhaps understandable), and good luck with The Pink Hotel.

A Visit to an Artist

I can't be alone in relishing a visit to an artist's studio, especially one as interesting as Jean-Claude Courat's studio in Paris.
Jean-Claude's pastel pictures of all things horticultural are exquisite and his skill is self evident. I love his chosen subject matter, vegetables, allotments, trees, even tin sheds.
And who could resist an artist with such a twinkle in his eye?

His pictures remind me of many of the gardens I visit, and the attention to detail is fantastic.

It's not just the work that appeals though. Like many artists, Jean-Claude is an avid collector, and some of his collections litter both his apartment and studio.

Jean-Claude is also a fine photographer, but it is interesting to note that his paintings are composites of places and things he has seen and stitched together in his mind. They are not painted from photographs, and not even a hint of Photoshop, as he still shoots on film on his 35mm and 6x6 cameras.

Huge thanks to Jinny Blom who organised the trip and wrote about it in this month's Gardens Illustrated Magazine (October 2010) where you can find Jean-Claude's contact details.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Prayer Time.

Churches, by and large, don't appeal to me in an architectural sense. It may have something to do with being made to attend on Sundays, or it just might be down to all those pointy victorian gothic bits that festoon so many.
But I love wriggly tin as many others do, so when the two combine, all is well. I admit, it's not strictly speaking a church (rather, a chapel) but it has an appeal and charm that hits the spot.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Brazil and Suffolk.

The two sculptors I met earlier today from very different parts of the world. I was introduced to Brazilian Carina Ciscato (above) some time ago, and have seen her work in a number of collections. Her web site is here. Two examples follow.

We then gatecrashed the studio of Annie Turner, from Suffolk, photographed here with some fishing net. She was brought up on the River Deben in Suffolk, and the many aspects of the river inform her work. The piece shown here is about a foot high.

Lastly, a picture of the studio dog of Carina the lovely Chamo (I wish I could do that with MY ears):

Monday, 6 September 2010

They think it's all over (2)

And for some, it is.

HCB said that once he'd pressed the shutter, that was the end of it as far as he was concerned (though the plethora of books of his photographs might indicate otherwise). What about you? Is the shutter going clunk only the beginning? Of course many photographers process their own digital images. But do you yearn to see the image used, preferably somewhere public? Best even on a giant billboard somewhere? Or on the cover of a magazine? Or is that it for you?

Pull up a sandbag.... I used to love printing my own negs, though only in b&w. It was in the darkroom that I felt a 'real' photographer, or at least a complete one. I don't get the same experience from sitting in front of Photoshop, but this isn't "I wish we were back in the old days" daydream, because I adore digital photography too.

It seems that photographers (I hate the slang togs) fall into two broad Camps: those that belong to the one where the taking of the picture is the final act, and the other where it is only the beginning. Actually, I think there's a third Camp that just want to talk about the kit, and sod the actual act of photography, but let's disregard them here.

If I shoot for a client, the end for me is really when the shutter trips, though I have an academic interest in seeing the published choice. I'd love to ask them why they didn't use my favourite frame if that's the case, but I know my place. Today I found out that a novelist I had photographed earlier in the year lobbied the editor of the magazine I was shooting for, begging for such and such a shot not to be used. He got his way.

All sorts of influences are at work in a final frame choice, that we as photographers are rarely privy to. I clearly remember discovering for the first time that the picture editor (picture commissioner in effect) who received my carefully crafted images did NOT make the final decision. That was left to a features editor. I couldn't believe it. I soon got over it, that's the publishing world. And why shouldn't the editor have the final say?

I used to fantasise of a an environment where the art director and photographer worked hand in hand to decide what should be shot, and which images used. It happened, infrequently, but the death knell seemed to be the reduction of easy access to the office, made more and more difficult with increased security measures (I'm thinking of newspapers in the early 1990s). And also the work load. Then, at least one had to turn up with the film, process it, and hand the edits to the picture editor in person. Now, it's sent by ftp. (Is there anyone from across the water who thinks ftp stands for something other than file transfer protocol?)
Is this a bad thing? Does it matter that art director and photographer seldom meet over the lightbox? I think it's a shame it doesn't happen, but most magazine staff will tell you that if they had the time for it they would spend more time collaborating. And do busy photographers have time for face to face photo editing either?
If you photograph gardens how much interaction is there with the person writing about the garden? Are you both there on the same day? Did you know that they were going to write about the irises more than the grasses? (You did photograph the irises didn't you?) Bear in mind that this is the editorial world.

Just to round this up, I've thought of a Camp Four, those that love looking at photographs (their own and others) more than taking them, but who also take them for a living. And does one take a photograph or make one?

(Photo shows playwright John Patrick Shanley. Photographers choice of frame.)