Tuesday, 4 December 2007

The stupider it is, the better it looks.

'I don't try to overintellectualize my concepts of people. In fact, the ideas I have, if you talk about them, they seem extremely corny and it's only in their execution that people can enjoy them... It's something I've learned to trust: The stupider it is, the better it looks.' -- Annie Leibovitz

Wednesday, 28 November 2007


This week I saw 'Control', Anton Corbijn's first full film. Anton has directed many music video's over the last 20 years but this was his first feature length film. Anton is of course better known as a photographer, one of the few real legends, and he's photographed everyone over the last 30 years. But for me it was more personal, Anton was one of the photographers that really influenced me when I was starting. He was also the first person I contacted to meet when I first moved to London. I met him at his home and spent the afternoon showing him some of my work, getting any advice I could, and talking about photography, music, and Andy Warhol (he'd just bought a print).
I've had contact with Anton a few times since then, and can say he's not only a great photographer, and director, but also a really nice guy.
Secondly I've always loved Joy Division's music, so I was looking forward to Control, and it didn't disappoint. I think maybe the greatest thing you can want from a music biography is the feeling that it brings you somehow closer to those who made the music, and Control manages this. Its a great film, a real achievement. Go see.

Actually as I'm talking film, while I was in the US last week I went to see American Gangster, another great film, really worth seeing.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Albert Watson.

I took a break from working and decided to catch up on email and a few sites I like. I'm in for a late night working tonight, its just gone midnight now. But then I made the mistake of taking a look at the site of one of my favourite phtographers Albert Watson (here). I ended up spending over an hour there, his work is incredible (and the site is good too). He can do anything, and should be an inspiration for any photographer.
One of the legends.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

All about me (this post anyway)

I think I'll usually be writing about other photographers and other things
I've seen that interest me, but this ones all about me - I'll keep it brief.
I've spent the last couple of days sorting out some of the photographs I shot in the U.S. last week, starting with the portraits I shot in Boston of the American conductor, keyboard player, and musicologist Joshua Rifkin. I shot these on digital, I don't use digital much so post production on these is taking forever it seems. I shoot mostly on my favoured Mamiya RZ67 and film, but I'm starting to bring digital in as an option in my work, need to be ready for the times its requested. I do find the format strange to compose, its longer/wider than the 6x7.
I'll post a few of the portraits when I can after its published, but I don't think its out until early next year.

I can post this portrait though. This has just been published in the German BMW Magazine. I shot this portrait of Martin Stiksel, founder of Last.fm, recently on the roof of his office. A few different portraits were shot, some more graphic, some simple, and the magazine liked and used this one for the interview.

I like BMW magazine, they use good layouts and use space, they give the photography room to breathe. I think I may spend too much time looking at magazines, I certainly spend too much money on them, but there are too many that I like, and I think I get just about every music magazine on a regular basis.
Well, enough about me, time to get back to work...

Monday, 19 November 2007

Do's & Don'ts by Charles H. Traub

This by Charles H. Traub from his writings 'Maxims from the Chair.'
I'm just going to post this and leave it at that - only to say I don't agree with them all but they're interesting guides. I actually saw it somewhere recently, on another blog I think but can't remember where, my memory is truly awful, but it can be found here; charlestraub.com

The Do's
Do something old in a new way.
Do something new in an old way.
Do something new in a new way, Whatever works... works.

Do it sharp, if you can't, call it art.
Do it in the computer — if it can be done there.
Do fifty of them — you will definitely get a show.
Do it big, if you can't do it big, do it red.
If all else fails turn it upside down, if it looks good it might work.
Do bend your knees.
If you don't know what to do, look up or down — but continue looking.
Do celebrities — if you do a lot of them, you'll get a book.
Connect with others — network.

Edit it yourself.
Design it yourself.
Publish it yourself.
Edit, when in doubt shoot more.
Edit again.

Read Darwin, Marx, Joyce, Freud, Einstein, Benjamin, McLuhan, and Barth.
See Citizen Kane ten times.
Look at everything — stare.

Construct your images from the edge inward.

If it's the "real world," do it in color.

If it can be done digitally — do it.

Be self centered, self involved, and generally entitled and always pushing — and damned to hell for doing it.

Break all rules, except the chairman's

The Don'ts
Don't do it about yourself — or your friend — or your family.
Don't dare photograph yourself nude.
Don't look at old family albums.

Don't hand color it.
Don't write on it.
Don't use alternative process — if it ain't straight do it in the computer.
Don't gild the lily — AKA less is more.
Don't go to video when you don't know what else to do.
Don't photograph indigent people, particularly in foreign lands.

Don't whine, just produce.

The Truisms
Good work sooner or later gets recognized.
There are a lot of good photographers who need it before they are dead.

If you walk the walk, sooner or later you'll learn to talk the talk.
If you talk the talk too much, sooner or later you are probably not walking the walk (don't bullshit).

Photographers are the only creative people that don't pay attention to their predecessors work — if you imitate something good, you are more likely to succeed.

Whoever originated the idea will surely be forgotten until he or she's dead — corollary: steal someone else's idea before they die.
If you have to imitate, at least imitate something good.
Know the difference.

Critics never know what they really like.
Critics are the first to recognize the importance of that which is already known in the community at large.
The best critics are the ones who like your work.

Theoreticians don't like to look — they're generally too busy writing about themselves.
Given enough time, theoreticians will contradict and reverse themselves.
Practice does not follow theory.
Theory follows practice.

All artists think they're self taught.
All artists lie, particularly about their dates and who taught them.
No artist has ever seen the work of another artist (the exception being the post-modernists who've adapted appropriation as another means of reinventing the history).

The curator or the director is the one in black.
The artist is the messy one in black.
The owner is the one with the Prada bag.
The gallery director is the one who recently uncovered the work of a forgotten person from his or her widower.

Every galleriest has to discover someone.
Every curator has to re-discover someone.
The best of them is the one who shows your work.

Every generation re-discovers the art of photography.
Photography history gets reinvented every ten years.
New galleries discover old photographers.

Galleries need to fill their walls — corollary: thus new talents will always be found.
Galleriests say hanging pictures is an art.

There are no collectors, only people with money.
Anyone who buys your work is a collector — your parents don't count.

All photographers are voyeurs.
Admit it and get on with looking.
Everyone, is narcissistic, anyone can be photographed.

Photography is about looking.
Learning how to look takes practice.

All photography, in the right context at the right time is valuable.
It is always a historical document.
Sooner or later someone will say it is art.

Any photographer can call himself an artist, but not every artist can call himself a photographer.

Compulsivness helps.
Neatness helps too.
Hard work helps the most.

The style is felt — fashion is fad.

Remember, its usually about who, what, where, when, why, and how.
It is who you know.

Many a good idea is found in a garbage can.
But darkrooms are dark... and dank, forgidaboudit.

The best exposure is the one that works.
Expose for the shadows, and develop for the highlights.
Or better yet, shoot digitally.

Cameras don't think, they don't have memories.
But digital cameras have something called memory.
Learn to see as the camera sees, don't try to make it see as the human eye.
Remember digital point and shoots are faster than Leicas.

Though the computer can correct anything, a bad image is a bad image.
If all else fails, you can remember, again, to either do it large or red.
Or, tear it up and tape it together.
It always looks better on the wall framed.

If they don't sell, raise your price.
Self-importance rises with the prices of your images on the wall.

The work of a dead artist is always more valuable than the work of a live one.
You can always pretend to kill yourself and start all over.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Leave out the parts that people skip.

Where to begin…
While I was away on assignment in the U.S. this week I reminded myself that I really should update the news section on my site when I return to London. I simply delete the old news and put a new recent bit up, but then I thought why don’t I simply start a blog (yet another photographer blog) to put my news on so I don’t keep deleting it etc…. plus I can then write more updates and comments etc….

So the decision was made last week and it starts today…..

I don’t really know yet what form this blog will take, I’m sure there will be a little of what I’m up to sometimes, plus a little of what I’m liking that day / week / moment, and other random stuff.

I’ll see how it evolves, and try to take the advice of Mr Leonard; ‘I try to leave out the parts that people skip.’ - Elmore Leonard

So boring intro over. Hopefully some interesting things to follow….