Friday, 30 December 2011

Following on...

...from the last blog post, I've just spent the last thirty minutes going through the RSS feeds i subscribe to, deleting those feeds that are sadly no longer updating. The final tally came to ten dead RSS feeds, some of which hadn't updated since earlier in the year. Others were close to deletion, only to be saved at the last minute when i realised that the feed address had changed, often with no warning to subscribers.

On a more positive note, a blog I've started following just recently is Alec Soth's 'Little Brown Mushroom that features excellent posts dealing with all sorts of photography questions and topics. The post that instantly caught my attention asked the question 'at what age do photographers do their most influential work?'. The answers via the comments are a great read - even Martin Parr has left an answer.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

The Fallen


© Images by Mikael Kennedy/Passport to Trepass

Reading through Blake Andrews' In Memoriam: Photoblogs 2011' makes sobering reading. The amount of great photoblogs who have shut up shop this year is rather disconcerting.

The one that i miss most from Blake's 2011 closure list is Down and Out, now archived at 'Passport to Trepass'. I came late to the blog but loved Mikael Kennedy's work right from the off. The mix of Polaroid images with a personal and distinctly intimate portraits of the people and places Mikael visited. Projects come to an end and sadly this was just the case with 'Down and Out'.

As for my own blog(s), well they are still active, though i must admit that i haven't posted as much as I'd like during 2011. I'll try to be more active in 2012. I do regard the closure of my blogging efforts as pretty much unthinkable. As one of my clients said  'You have a lot to say Richard' - indeed i do but it goes beyond that. A blog is the perfect platform for communication with few limitations, unlike certain other platforms.

Twitter and Facebook may be great for short snippets and linking - convenient too - but they are often of the moment and accessibility for non Twitter/Facebook users can be tough or even non-existent. The clinical  design and detached feel of Facebook has never engaged me as a user, so why do i still use it? Simply because the posts added there reach a different audience to that of my blog, although i have found it difficult to increase my 'likes' or fans. Maybe i should update more - something to work on in 2012 maybe.

Many photographers appear to move to Facebook because they feel that that is where the big audiences reside. That may be true, at least in some cases, but often it's a closed audience who use Facebook as their main social network. If you aren't a Facebook user, would you visit a Facebook page? I doubt it. You're outside of the Facebook network family with no ability to comment or even show approval.

As a final word we come back to Blake's website, simply called 'B'. Definitely a photography blog to follow in 2012, if you don't already.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Merry Christmas 2011


That's it for another year. How quickly Christmas comes and goes. It hasn't been an extravagant one this year -  no Leica M9 under the tree this year - but it hasn't been too bad.

I did get two rather good photography books - that i bought myself i might add - books that include the superb Chris Killip book Seacoal. Superb human interest photography by a great photographer.

Anyway I hope that you've all had a great Christmas day.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Fifteen Minutes

Exodus from panos pictures on Vimeo.

I've linked to this on Twitter a couple of times this week, but here it is again because it is such a great use of the multimedia format.

A brilliant piece of multimedia by Chris de Bode and Panos Pictures.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Journey on Mars


I love this kinda stuff. A time-lapse video showing the whole 4.8 mile journey made by NASA's Mars Rover Spirit that took an astounding 5 years, 3 months and 27 days to complete. That immense journey  has been condensed into 2 minutes and 30 seconds of footage.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

LIFE at 75


LIFE celebrates its 75 anniversary, well at least it kinda does. The history of LIFE is as varied as the content of the magazine itself. LIFE magazine in its purist form lasted from November 1936 to December 1972 - after that, the title lost its way. Only recently has LIFE really returned to a close approximation of its original role as part of  an online venture between Getty Images and TIME/LIFE. Something is still missing though.

A series of poor 'specials' and various misguided comebacks over the years, have done the brand no favours whatsoever. The Life.com website does have its finer moments, but it can veer towards a tabloid fuelled, celebrity dominated content at times - mostly at the expense of its own back catalogue of classic work. A return to a broad mix of stories, like those carried by the original magazine, would be nice.

A number of galleries celebrate the 75 years of LIFE, with one of the best showcasing the best photography that made the magazine's name. The likes of Larry burrows and Margaret Bourke-White (both LIFE photographers) have more than one image featured. The 75 best LIFE photographs can be found HERE

More galleries cover aspects from magazine covers to LIFE photographers looking back at a favourite or iconic photo story they produced. Every edition of LIFE ever produced, a great look back in time, and still a good read, can be viewed via Google Books HERE

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Joker in the pack

Is a photography degree worth taking? With the growing costs of studying, it comes as no surprise that people are asking this more and more. I was lucky. I managed to go to university before the grant system disappeared.  I don't think I'd apply for a degree now unless i could prove it was a worthy investment.

A great post on the duckrabbit blog (yes them again!) nicely sums the pros and cons of the photography education system. If you are thinking about photography education, then I'd definitely recommend you read this article. It may help answer your question.

Are photography degrees the joker in the pack?

Monday, 7 November 2011

More Murmurations


More murmurations for you. Amazing. Astounding. Beautiful.

This wonderful little film was found via the duckrabbit blog - a recommended read.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Nine Goats


It's amazing how far a goat will go to get a meal. At first glance i thought it was a manipulated image, which maybe says a lot about how cynical I'm getting when viewing new images. A few years ago i would have looked at this photograph with no doubt in my mind that it was genuine.

This photo was just a number of animal photographs featured in a superb gallery put together by the Telegraph website. The first image in the collection of 38 photographs captures a wonderful moment. That gallery can be found HERE

The second link from this week's photography are also from the animal world, but in a more abstract sense. The magical shape-shifting patterns (called murmurations) made by thousands of starlings in the skies above Gretna in Scotland, have been photographed by Owen Humphreys.

No one knows why the aerial display by thousands of birds takes place. The remarkable images can be found HERE

A daily round-up of the best photography news and links can be found HERE

Sunday, 30 October 2011

All about Eve

Marilyn Monroe, 1955 |  Photograph by Eve Arnold

This isn't going to be backed up with any scientific proof, but i did make a rather interesting observation when i was at an exhibition on Friday . The exhibition in question was 'The Photographers' at Nunnington Hall, a rather grand little country Manor not far from where i live.

The observation wasn't anything to do with the excellent exhibition itself but rather the collection of exhibition catalogues on sale on a table nearby. Nunnington Hall has exhibited photography for a number of years and the work displayed has often been by one or a number of photography's top name talents.

On the table next to the exhibition spaces were around 10 or 12 different high quality exhibition catalogues from previous shows dating back a number of years.  All were available to buy, however, some appeared to be far more popular than others. The top seller was obvious - Steve McCurry - just one, slightly over handled catalogue left. The other photographers seemed to have faired pretty well too with well over half of the catalogues gone for Bruce Davidson, Lord Snowdon, Bailey and a multitude of others.

Who wasn't popular? Well this surprised me - by a landslide it was Eve Arnold. The wonderfully talented Eve Arnold! Poor Eve had a full compliment of catalogues piled high. Now this observation in popularity is based purely on what i saw on the table at that time yesterday afternoon. Maybe Eve's catalogue had sold out the day before and the staff had added a new stack of Arnold catalogues from the stock room.

On the other hand, did that that table reflect that the exhibition viewing public are more receptive to Steve McCurry's colourful and exotic photography? Maybe it is no coincidence that the top selling catalogue on that table featured colour images - the others all contained black and white imagery.

Maybe the general viewing public just prefer the bright colour of McCurry's India to the monochrome tones of an Eve Arnold portrait of Marilyn Monroe. I don't know. I do know that I'll be back in a week or two for another exhibition and I'm going to take another look at that table.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

iPad Edition


My photography book Sea, Sky, Sand and Street, featuring over 70 photographs shot in locations around the fabulous English county of Norfolk this summer, is now available for the iPad and iPhone for just £3.49

To grab a copy go to http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/2432334

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Data Based


"These pictures show several sides of global human activities," said 34-year-old Felix, from Montreal, Canada. "We see everything from paved and unpaved roads, light pollution, railways, electricity transmission lines. All the way to submarine cables, pipelines, shipping lanes and air traffic. 


The representations are not to scale, however, as electrical wires could not be seen from space. But it shows the extent of our civilisation, the patterns of our global sprawl, how human-influenced our planet now is."

The images are made up from real data collected by Felix Pharand-Deschenes from various US government agencies. Although not to scale, the resulting photo-illustrations are impressive visualisation of how human activity has influenced the Earth.

Take a look at a fascinating collection of Felix Pharand-Deschenes's images HERE

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Suspicious Photo?

Suspicious photo? Potential Terrorist? Of course not.

When does a family photo stop being a family photo? The answer is when it turns into the image that fuels a PR disaster. Yes, yet again there has been a case of photographer equals enemy of the state, this time at a Glasgow shopping centre. Yet again the terrorism laws have been cited and abused in the name of privacy.

The crime in question was for a dad to photograph, using his mobile phone, his daughter enjoying her ice cream. Staff instantly reported this activity as suspicious. They called security, who called the police which finally led to one idiotic police officer threatening to delete the Dad's family photo under the misguided believe he could do so under terrorism legislation - you actually need a court order to do that in the UK. The photograph had already been posted on Facebook so it was too late anyway.

A Facebook campaign combined with extensive coverage on Twitter and the news websites turned a ice cream photo into a major pr disaster for the Braehead Shopping centre. There's been so much criticism aimed at Braehead that Capital Shopping Centres, who own the Braehead centre, have even decided to change their policy on photography within the 11 shopping complexes they own around the UK. If they had acted in a more thoughtful  and subtle way in the first place, all of the furore that ensued could have been avoided. Yet again it seems to be poor training and communication compounded by ill-informed security and police who abuse laws set up to protect the public. It needs sorting out!

The questions that have to be asked are why do public places impose such stupid rules in the first place? Why is it OK now to take photographs in the Braehead shopping centre when it wasn't before? A public place where families and friends meet up and they expect no one to take photographs during their visit? It seems a ridiculous thing to ask in an age where most people carry a mobile phone capable of taking images or video.

Privacy is an important issue for us all, but more and more it seems the rules are bent, abused or applied in situations that just make a mockery of the law. Is a shopping mall a private place? I would say not. What is even more ironic is the fact that the Braehead Shopping centre is probably bristling with CCTV cameras (like most of the UK) watching the shoppers for 'security' purposes. Where is the privacy in that?

Sunday, 2 October 2011

SoFoBoMo Project Closes

Yep... it's true. The Solo Photo Book Month project will disappear at the end of this year. That was the sad news tweeted today by the SoFoBoMo team. After four great years the project staff have decided to wind down the project. They released the following statement

'Solo Photo Book Month has been running for four years. And what a fantastic four years they have been. All good things, however, come to an end. And this is the end for SoFoBoMo. The small group of us who organise the annual event have looked long and hard at the future and have, reluctantly, decided that without proper (i.e. expensive) web development and without proper (i.e. expensive) promotion we cannot go on. We believe that participants over the years have, well, grown a little.

The experience of proving that you *can* (can try, can finish, can see your book, can hold your book) has been energising. People have written to us to tell us that. We've felt it ourselves. We would like to give our grateful thanks to everybody who has volunteered, everybody who has donated, and everybody who has participated. The website will stay online until the end of 2011 and we encourage everybody to explore the range of books available. Goodbye. The SoFoBoMo team.'

Of the four years that the Solo Photo Book Month project took place, I only missed taking part the first year, 2008, due to discovering the project too late to take part. I liked what i saw. SoFoBoMo was well organised, the website informative and there was a relaxed, friendly attitude towards participants in the project. Then there was also the challenge of making a photography book. I learned a lot.

I will miss the Solo Photo Book Month Project.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

WWII in Photographs

The commander of a Cossack unit in the Kharkov region, Ukraine, on June 21, 1942 

If, like me, you are interested in photography from World War II, then I'm sure you'll absolutely love the WWII retrospective that the Atlantic photography blog InFocus is currently running.

Released every Sunday until the end of October, this 20 part retrospective look at the world during World War II features some fantastic work covering all aspects of the war from the home front through to the war in Russia and the Pacific.

This fantastic galleries, many containing over 40 images and including action photos and portraits like the superb Cossack commander photograph seen above, really do capture the human experiences of the conflict on all fronts and bring the history of World War II to life.

To visit the excellent InFocus WWII galleries go to http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/ww2.html

Sunday, 25 September 2011

7300 Days


Twenty years ago, i walked into an art college and commenced my photographic education. For six years, via three art colleges,  i went through the best and worst of an education system designed to 'encourage' creative thought. I actually found that by the end of it all, when i came to leave education, it had had the reverse effect. My love of photography was eroded over 18 months. That was partly due to me, but my final photography course also played a part too.

I started out studying a mixture of TV, film and photography and, in the long run, it seems to have been the course that is the most relevant to working as a photographer in this growing multimedia era. The equipment i used back then would be considered antiques now - the only digital thing in the edit suite was the CD player - but the techniques for editing video, recording audio and taking photographs haven't changed - even if the technology has improved considerably.

The question i often ask myself is; What kind of photographer would I have been without those six years of study? Did it really make much of a difference? I think i did... but what's kinda eluding me are the details of how and why.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Book Making: Blurb


Four years ago, I came across a photography blog post that talked about the start of a new online photography project. That project was the Solo Photo Book Month where participants have to shoot, edit and design a photography book featuring 35+ images in just 31 days. Sadly I was too late to take part in the project's launch year but I decided then and there that i would take part the following year - I've done so ever since. I think what appealed to me the most was the flexibility and laid back approach to making a photobook. You make it as challenging as you want it to be. The project was also achievable - unlike other projects that make great demands on the participant.

 This year I wanted to produce an actual photography book. The internet has opened up a whole new range of possibilities for producing printed books at a price not that much higher than a book of a shop shelf. After a look around i decided to go with Blurb.com. I liked the range of books and the free book designing software called BookSmart makes the construction of a book far easier and quicker. This post is really a review but just my experiences of using the Blurb service. Before this I'd had a little experience making books the old fashioned way at college. This was all pre-digital glorified 'build your own book' type of photobook. The new self published books are more in line with what a professionally printed book should look like. The PDF version of the book Sand, Sky, Sea and Street, I submitted to SoFoBoMo wouldn't transfer easily to the blurb book templates so I decided to start from scratch and design a new book. It was frustrating but I'm glad it went that way now. The results were so much better and I could re-evaluate the book design and the photographs too.

The design itself came together quickly aided by the easy to use BookSmart software. By using Blurb's own software you also get the added benefit of being able to check on how your book looks with the preview option. Using BookSmart speeded the design process up no end and I'd certainly recommend using it. There are plenty of choices available for the book designer when using the software. I decided to go with a small 7x7 inches (18x18cm) book mainly because to suit the square format of the photography i was placing on the pages The finished book was completed in four days with the slightly altered title of Sea, Sky, Sand and Street. The 44Mb file uploaded to the Blurb website in around 20 minutes. We were ready for publishing.

It should be noted that you have to buy a published edition of your own book within 15 days or the design is taken off the website. No doubt that is to stop large scale book designing and to conserve Blurb's server space. Once you buy a copy of your book it will remain on your Blurb bookstore page for others to buy. I ordered a hard cover edition with premium matt paper. Delivery took around ten days. The one issue that did concern me was the accuracy of the publishing. It's great having a book design on screen that looks fabulous but it needs to go through the publishing process. Probably the biggest worry is the trimming and construction of the book. Photographs need space on the page so that they are not cropped or obscured when the pages are printed and the book is put together. The BookSmart software gives guidance but an element of care is still needed. Just before I sent the book off for printing I reduced the image size on the pages by 5%. It doesn't sound that much but it gave that extra bit of space for the assembly of the book. The printed version came out very nicely with only a very small difference (on the edges of the cover design) between the BookSmart designed version and the published hardback copy I ordered. I would say that overall the design remained 97% intact.

The print quality is superb on my edition. Images have fantastic deep black tones and crisp whites. Text was sharp and well defined. My only complaint would be that the images have a greenish/yellowish tone that isn't there in the original images. This doesn't distract from the book quality and it may just be a printing issue with the very dark black photograph tones. Some of the warmth of the original photographs has been lost though which is a shame. If you are particularly fussy about print tones this may be something to take into consideration. I will be ordering more copies of Sea, Sky, Sand and Street in future and it will be interesting to see if the green/yellow tone are there in the new copies. It's a small issue but one that can hopefully be sorted out over time so that the image tones are nearer the originals.

In conclusion, I can say that my first published book went really well. If I had to give a mark it would get an eight out of ten. The book is well made and the print quality is excellent. I have a number of photography books in my collection that aren't as well printed as this Blurb book. The service would have have got a nine or a ten if the image tones had been nearer the original photographs. I would like to say that what you design and see on the screen is what you get, but sadly it isn't quite as straightforward as that - at least not for me so far. Don't be put off by that though. If you want to produce a photography book, the Blurb service delivers great results.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Error 29

This last couple of weeks has been all about fixing things - especially this last week where everything seemed to go wrong. During the middle of the week the website server was hacked and although the site wasn't damaged, it did go offline for around 36 hours. Fortunately the web host technical support guys did a great job of rebooting everything and getting the site back onto the web.

My iPhone problem was a different matter. Around two weeks ago i sent it to get repaired at i-phone-repairs.co.uk. The connector was damaged so i couldn't update the phone software and i decided to have a new battery put in too. I sent the phone off on the Monday and got it back on the Saturday. Not bad i thought. How very wrong i was.

The first thing i wanted to do was get the new Apple iPhone operating system update done. It started off fine and then came up with an error message. After numerous attempts at this with the same error message, i decided to then do a full restore and update. Start from scratch. An error number 29 message came up. By this point i was worried.

After some researching online i discovered a number of people mentioned the battery as being the likely problem. 99.99% of the time it's the battery claimed one forum post. The problem could be caused by a non genuine, cheap or incompatible battery being placed in the phone. So i decided to e-mail i-phone-repairs.co.uk to see what they said. I got this email back.

Dear Mr Richard Flint,
Thank you for contacting us regarding your order, I have looked in to this for you and I can see that the reason you are having these faults are due to the newer versions of software, which are actually intended for the iPhone 4. I am afraid there is nothing we would be able to do to help you on this occasion.

Kind regards,
Vikki
Customer Service Advisor

Hmm not even a trace of 'we'd like to help' there. I sent a second e-mail detailing the issue better and got this email reply from i-phone-repairs.co.uk . This email has been pasted into the post complete with the spelling mistakes from the original email.

Dera Mr Flint,

Thank you for getting back to us with this, I have spoken to one of our supervisors and they have advised that due to the software that has een upgraded on your device there is nothing that we can do, we would like to send our apologies for this and if teher was something that we can do we would however we can not. If you have any furthur questions or queries please do not hesitate to ask.

Kind Regards

Sarah
Customer Service Advisor

Do you get the impression that the reply was rather rushed? It has we don't care! written all over it. From that point on i realised that I had to fix it. I ordered a genuine battery and some tools and did it myself. The result was the iPhone started first time. It WAS the battery causing the fault. On closer inspection it turned out that i-phone-repairs.co.uk had placed into my iPhone 3GS, a cheap non-genuine iPhone 3G battery with the number APN:616-0366 - whereas a 3GS needs a battery with the number APN:616-433 or 435 to avoid unknown Error 29 messages with IOS4.

This is an issue that a repair company should have known about. They probably did but didn't care once they got my money. If they don't know about battery compatibility then that is rather worrying. OK, they repaired the connector socket fine - so far. I'll give them that, but to blatantly not give a toss about after care (or my iPhone), especially when the customer has a problem, is pretty disgusting. People care about their phones and need to trust that they are getting a phone repaired correctly. It's a strange business model to have an iPhone sent for repair by the customer, only to be returned to them with another fault caused by that very business using the wrong components.

Add to that the fact that the cheap 3G battery they put in could have potentially damaged my phone (it got very warm, would not charge properly and caused system restarts every few minutes) i find it hard to recommend this company to anyone. Not even an enemy!

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Cosmic Camera


Photography in space has a certain appeal. None of that dirty Earth atmosphere to get in the way of the light and you certainly won't get any interruptions from passing strangers. These days we take the photographs taken in space for granted but back in the early sixties the technology had to be developed to achieve photography in space.

This great little film documents how the Lunar Orbiter Camera started and advanced that process. The technology is remarkable. The orbiter features a 70mm dual lenses film camera, processing lab, analogue scanner and transmitter all in one. The film used was Bi-Mat which was similar to Polaroid.

The camera was designed to map the moon's surface to gain useful information for the moon mission that would follow some three years later. The camera did manage to photograph the Earth too - the first photograph to show the whole of the Earth floating in space.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Sixteen Days


It's with a great deal of pleasure that i can announce the launch of my first photography book release called Sea, Sky, Sand and Street available from blurb.com.

Based on this year's Solo Photo Book month project, this brand new 7x7 inches (18x18 cm) photography book has been completely redesigned from scratch and features a new layout design, over 70 photographs including a number of new images and more.

For the next sixteen days (check out the book preview to spot why it's 16 days) the soft cover version of book will be available to buy for the introductory price of £16.95 plus £4.99 postage. The sixteen day period will end on midnight September 10th when the price will return to £18.95

The new Sea, Sky, Sand and Street book in soft cover and hardback can be purchased HERE

Saturday, 20 August 2011

TateShots: Don McCullin


A short but wonderfully insightful interview with Don McCullin. I've always liked Don's humble attitude towards his career and work. A shame more photographers don't think like him. I did have to defend his work though on a number of occasions when i was attending the various photography re-education camps that made up my photo education some years ago now.

Ironically most of the criticism did not come from the students but from the lecturers who didn't like, what they believed to be, the artification of McCullin's work due to shows like the one seen in the film. The fact that his work was in a gallery seemed to make it, in their eyes, less worthy as photojournalism or even, dare i say it, less worthy as photography. Photojournalism had no place in a gallery where it could be perceived as art.

Selling out was a common complaint from various lecturers at different establishments. Selling out seemed to be a coded metaphor for success. Success made you weaker creatively and morally. Don McCullin and Sebastião Salgado were usually singled out for criticism. My argument to that was simple. You'd turn down lucrative offers from galleries and sponsors?

Of course they wouldn't.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Where Children Sleep

Joey aged 11 owns two shotguns and a crossbow and made his first kill – a deer – at the age of seven.

This work i  really like. I'm talking about the photography of James Mollison and especially his project 'Where Children Sleep' which takes a look at kids bedrooms from around the world. The results are fascinating.

You wouldn't believe that a bedroom could say that much but Mollison's photographs cleverly prove that theory wrong. The above photograph stood out for me, although many others were equally striking - especially those images of children whose bed is an old mattress or sofa  exposed to the elements.

The sheer scale of inequality portrayed in the photography is just breathtaking. Some kids have everything (too much in some cases!) and others have nothing. Remarkably It's not just the photographs of poor children's room that make you think. Questions come to mind viewing almost all of the photographs.

James Mollison's Where Children Sleep photographs can be found on his website HERE

A few images not included in his website gallery can also be found HERE

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Photo'd Shop Looter

Faked... but funny. Number ten looters

Yes. The photograph above is a fake, but a rather funny and clever view of recent events in the UK. Bloggers, the public, the media and the politicians are now trying to get to grips with things and understand what the heck happened. Most seem out of their depth. There is a gut feeling that the answers aren't going to be simple ones. 

Comments are flying around in the media and on the web about how water cannons, baton rounds or live ammunition could have made all the difference. What seem like simple answers, only serve to prove that most people have no idea how to stop the tide of the criminal activity other than react with an equally violent response. Although the tough items of riot kit seem popular, in reality the most effective weapon available to the police looks to be have been the camera - mobile, CCTV video and stills.

This week the police started to publish images of the looters and rioters on Flickr and via the media. So far it seems that the 'mug shot' websites have been successful in bringing some looters to justice. The only worry for journalists is that in future, the photographer will be seen as nothing more than a 'police eyewitness' by rioters rather than a reporting of the event. The balance that has to be struck is very delicate, although some of the demand's by politicians for images to be handed over aren't helping matters. Like policing, journalism is done by consent. 

The photo of number ten being looted came from the brilliant photoshoplooter website. Look out for Darth Vader being photographed by police on page 3.... brilliantly done and very funny.

The Photoshoplooter website can be found at http://photoshoplooter.tumblr.com/

Friday, 5 August 2011

At War with Hipstamatic


Over the last year or so, there have been a few publicised and even published cases of the iPhone becoming a tool for photojournalism. Just last week the website for the magazine Foreign Policy published a number of stories featuring iPhone photography of Afghanistan by four photojournalists: Teru Kuwayama, Rita Leistner, Omar Mullick and Balazs Gardi. All of the photographs were taken using Hipstamatic: an iPhone photography app.

A couple of questions comes to mind: does it matter what the photographs were taken on? Does the obvious lo-fi photography aesthetic of the Hipstamatic images detract from the story and subjects? There has been quite a bit of criticism from those who believe that the aesthetic style of the photography is too strong and intrusive for photo-journalistic use. Purity of the image. Pure equals truth? Photography as truth has been around as long as photography has existed but it is a misplaced believe. For some reason, some photojournalists seem to believe that their photographs are not influenced aesthetically by their lens choice, angle, focus choice, framing. lighting etc, etc. It's as though photo-journalism has a lead lined get-out clause from photography's more interpretative aspects. The only thing that the iPhone images have is a more obvious stylized aesthetic than their DSLR shot counterparts do.

Obviously the photographers saw some potential in the iPhone photographs they were producing. The idea that they are less worthy because they were taken on a phone is rather missing the point: as is the term 'why not use a real camera' that has been bandied about by a few critics. The creative potential of the mobile phone is impressive. There are benefits to using one. Just yesterday the excellent Duckrabbit blog posted a link to brilliant film shot using a Nokia N8. Does the use of a mobile to make the film any less worthy? No, of course not. On the flip side of the argument are those who believe the mobile phone will completely replace the 'real' camera. There are just so many obvious reasons why that won't happen. The camera is such a flexible and sophisticated tool for a phone to compete with. In the end it comes down to what we (a) can afford and (b) what works for us - be it a Leica M9, a $20 Holga or a shoebox pinhole camera.

The iPhone photos linked in this post are great photographs in their own right. I can think of a number of  photographers who have used the iPhone to create good images and stories in the last year or so. I've even used one myself. There are lots of bad images out there, taken using phones, DSLRs etc, and i have no doubt that the iPhone 'photo style' will be overused and abused to death. Can't that be said for most other photographic formats too though? Does that make all iPhone photography, bad photography? I don't think so.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Solo Photo Book Month 2011



The Solo Photo Book Month 2011 has come to an end... at least for me anyway. My project started on the 1st July and officially finished on the 19th July.  I think it's the best book I've done so far over the three years I've been taking part in the SoFoBoMo project.

I'll write a more detailed account about this year's project and early ideas in development for my 2012 project on the Darker Skies blog in the next few days.

 If you'd like to have a look at my book 2011 then click HERE

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Norfolk Monochrome III

Here's the third and final post featuring a few Norfolk images shot using my iPhone. It's been a lot of fun but I'll be heading my way back home very soon.

These photos and the others will become my Solo Photo Book Month project for 2011. Expect an extended gallery and a book of around forty images around the beginning of August.

Hope you've all enjoyed these mobile blog posts :)

UPDATE: Image quality improved after a few teensy weensy mobile blogging problems.







Monday, 27 June 2011

Colour Vision

Cromer pier

Norfolk beckons me again and by the time you read this post i'll have been there a few days. I can't wait. Time for some well deserved R&R. Last year i was busy as stills photographer on a film and decided not to go. A break was needed but i really did miss having a relaxing project that had no brief.

Shooting for yourself is different from shooting for someone else. It sounds obvious but its true. It's  a different creative process and you have only yourself to please. This year i'll be shooting Norfolk almost entirely in colour - 35mm, 645, 6x6 and digital. 

One or two rolls of FP4 may sneak in but i'll mostly have my colour vision switched on.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Signal Strength

 The first Russian language issue of Signal - September 1942

The story of identifying Franz Krieger's wartime album, documented on the New York Times website, has been an intriguing one and it reminds me of a rather good book i purchased a few years ago detailing in part the work of German Wehrmacht's 'Propaganda Kompanions' (PK).

Sadly the NY Times articles do not go into that much detail about Krieger's working history or who he was shooting images for, but it is most likely that his photojournalism talents were put to work for Signal, a German military magazine that was published  between 1940-45 and reached a circulation of 2.5 million by 1943. It was the biggest selling magazine in Europe until 1945 and was translated into over 20 languages.

Signal was developed out of the Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung as magazine that promoted Germany as Europe's benefactor and protector. Photography was the main vehicle of its propaganda intentions. It used the human interest story and the photo essay to great effect making it a very popular read across Europe as it reported the string of victories during the early war years. Even the British press were forced to use Signal photographs as no British made images were available. Amazingly Signal had no connections or loyalty to Goebbels propaganda ministry, it was totally under the control of the German Army. There were no civilian war correspondents and notions of journalistic independence did not apply under the command of the Wehrmacht. Photojournalism was seen to be important however, and the Germans used it to great affect.

By comparison, the British were ill-prepared and complacent about propaganda. Even during the war years, experienced photographers like Bert Hardy of the Picture Post were made to take British Army photographer courses. The instructors were often far less experienced than the students and the equipment was virtually antique, Hardy decided to use his own Leicas and did so until they broke. The army refused to have them repaired. Eventually the British set up their own magazine called Parade in 1940 but with a readership of just 100,000 it was never in a position to be a serious competitor with Signal.

The German approach was far different. The Propaganda Kompanions numbered 12,000 strong at one point. A PK was a soldier first and a photographer second. One photograph even shows a PK's Leicas next to a his Luger. Signal's editors actually staked the journalistic authenticity of Signal on the fact that " The photographers are not press photographers in the accepted sense of the word. They are like their comrades, soldiers of fighting units and at the same time soldier war correspondents" As soldiers these correspondents had to follow orders and fight. The portraits of the Russian soldiers (some of them Jewish) captured on the Eastern front may have been partly down to one order of the day to PKs during operation Barbarossa to produce pictures that show clear racial contrasts between the German and Soviet soldiers.

As the war turned against Germany, so did Signal's fortunes. The long retreat in Russia and the lack of new victories in the west forced the magazine in a world of fantasy and make believe. Divisions broke out between the increasingly controlling Propaganda ministry and the Wehrmacht high command. Eventually the magazine resorted to show business articles and old victory stories recycled into new news as the good news ran out.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Glorious Up North

Durham miners, pictured with their ponies (1965) - Photograph by John Bulmer

A rather pleasant discovery for me last week was the work of John Bulmer whose photographs of life in the industrial areas of the west midlands and northern England of forty years ago I just adore.

In many towns across the West Midlands and the North of England during the sixties and seventies, the effects of de-industrialisation marked the end of many industries and the communities that had existed around them for generations. Slowly, over a number of years, the coal face would be replaced with the call centre. The sense of community just fell apart after the glue that held it together was removed.

More of John Bulmer's photography can be found on his website HERE

If you liked that then check out a great gallery of Chris Killip photographs of sea coal harvesters shot the north east of England in 1982 HERE

Thursday, 9 June 2011

LIFE's Best Blogs


LIFE.com have put together an award list featuring the best photography blogs for 2011. It's certainly a good place to start if you are new to photo blogs or you are looking for a new blog or two to follow.

LIFE's 2011 Best Photo Blog list can be found HERE

I've also put my own growing list of favourite photography websites together on the weblinks section at www.richardflintphoto.com/weblinks

Friday, 3 June 2011

What Remains

Not many photographers manage to divide my opinion like Sally Mann does. I kinda like some of her work but other bits leave me cold. It seems to depend on what she focuses her camera on.

This HBO/BBC film about her work is rather insightful though and does provide a fascinating 'behind the scenes' look at the artist/photographer at work. I just love her camera!




Sunday, 29 May 2011

The Decisive Moment


The Decisive Moment is a brilliant 20 minute video featuring the legendary Henri Cartier-Bresson talking about photography and several of his images. I love the notion of the photograph as the immediate sketch that cannot be corrected. Life is once... forever.

'The decisive moment, it is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as the precise organization of forms which gives that event its proper expression.'

– Henri Cartier-Bresson

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Funny Money

Worth $3,890,500? Nah.

Three million, eight hundred and ninety thousand and five hundred dollars( yep $3,890,500). That is how much a Cindy Sherman print went for at auction at Christies a couple of weeks ago according to information released this week. That is the highest price ever realised for a photographic print.

It's a mind boggling amount that just begs the question.... why???? I haven't a clue! I will admit that I am not the biggest Cindy Sherman fan. Neither am i a huge fan of photographer's doing self portraits continuously - so much out there to explore and photograph, and they photograph themselves over and over again. Hmm... but the Sherman print sale is not about taste. Nope, it's about hard cash.

It does beg the question what is a photograph worth? Personally i would never pay $3,890,500 (or anywhere near that) for a photograph, even if i had Bill Gates/ Steve Jobs' level of wealth.  I would, however, like to sell one of mine for that price or just a fraction of that amount. Wouldn't we all?

A number of photography blogs offer some great insights into the crazy world of art photography. I've linked to them in this post. I especially like the 'second secret sale' moral dilemma  featured on The Online Photographer.  So...would you do it? I would!

Monday, 16 May 2011

Remember Me?

What happened to Sinaida?

Sometimes a photograph can hit you squarely between the eyes. With the portraits of children, displaced, orphaned or separated from their families, over on the 'remember me' section of the U.S Holocaust Memorial Museum website, each sad photograph hits home hard.

The museum has launched a project to find out what happened to 1100 children photographed at various locations including the Kloster Indersdorf, a children’s centre established in the immediate post war period by the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) in Bavaria, Germany.

For me, one photograph stood out among the portraits. Little Sinaida Grussman holding the blackboard placard with her name chalked on, smiling at the camera as though it was for a school award photo. I find it just a heartbreaking photograph to look at. A photograph that bitterly encapsulates the fact that she had no-one. I do hope Sinaida found her family and went onto to have a great life. Hopefully we will find out.

The collection of child portraits can be found HERE. In just seven weeks, information for around 70 of the children photographed has been received. Hopefully many, many more will follow.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Capturing the City

Hell's Kitchen, New York in December 1953: Image by Frank Oscar Larson

If you enjoyed the street photography by Vivian Maier featured on the blog a few weeks ago then i think you'll love the work of Frank Oscar Larson. Larson was yet another photographer who photographed the streets of 1950's New York but wasn't a professional photographer. 

Every Sunday morning Larson would set out from his home to photograph around various New York locales with his Rolleiflex camera. The negatives were discovered in a cardboard box two years ago by his son's widow. The negatives had laid untouched for 45 years following the death of the photographer in 1964.

The photographs are currently featured in an exhibition, “Reflections of New York,” at the Perfect Exposure Gallery in Los Angeles.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Photographing Disappointment


Two photographers photographing an Afghanistan ravaged by war 130 years apart is the compelling story that runs throughout this brilliant 17 minute film from the Tate.

Photographer Simon Norfolk leaves behind modern photojournalistic method and takes a cue from the slower, more considered approach of nineteenth century photographer John Burke who photographed Afghanistan during the second Afghan war in 1878-80.

Norfolk adds a few political comments to his commentary that I can't say I totally agree with. The photographer seems to view the complicated situation over there with a very simplistic eye, however that shouldn't put you off from viewing this well produced film.

A gallery of Simon Norfolk's Afghanistan work can be found HERE

Friday, 29 April 2011

Visiting Marwencol

The "protectors" of Marwencol return from patrol. (Photo: Mark E. Hogancamp/Courtesy Cinema Guild)

A couple of weeks ago i came across the photography of Mark E. Hogancamp and was instantly struck by the unique way he used photography as a form of therapy. Eleven years ago, Hogancamp was severely attacked in a bar by five men. The attack was so brutal that his mother did not recognise him.  When he awoke from a nine day coma, it was found that he had no language, he couldn't walk and Hogancamp had also a lost large part of his memory due to the head injuries he'd received.

After twelve months of therapy the bills became too much, and Mark had to find another way to deal with the consequences of what had happened to him. Lacking conventional help he decided to create his own - a World War II era town all in 1/6th scale called Marwencol. In this town Hogancamp creates stories using action figures, each with their own identity and personality, that help him cope with his new life him after the terrible attack.

Photography became an outlet for Hogancamp to tell the comic book type stories of the characters he has devised. Some of the photographs work better than others but it is fascinating to see photography used in this way as a therapeutic tool. Several of the images do capture a World War II type atmosphere nicely. I've always believed that photographs are created for a variety of reasons that are not always just visual. The relationship we have with our photographs is often not as simple as we'd like to think.

It is a brilliant story about an eccentric guy just trying to come to terms with what happened to him. The photography is well worth a look because it's just so unique. Sadly i missed a documentary on TV about Marwencol last week but a short YouTube trailer can be viewed on the page along with the photos HERE

To visit Marwencol go to http://www.marwencol.com/

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Creeping Barrage


The day is nearly here and I'm already fed up. Saturation is the best word to describe the utter BLITZKRIEG of news about the Royal Wedding. News reporting now works on the creeping artillery barrage principle - you see it coming, it gets closer and then you are totally enveloped by it. It is relentless, unforgiving and you cannot avoid it no matter what you do. It is everywhere from TV to iTunes.

William and Catherine are not to be envied. They are in the centre of this whirlwind and will be for some time to come. Most people would run away and hide. Maybe they'd like to too. Whether the viewing figures are as high as the two billion mentioned remains to be seen. It's a tough way to start your marriage. I wish them well because they seem like decent people. Ignore the royalty bit, they are just like you or me. A person.

There seems, however, to be an attitude within the media that most Brits are interested. "It's what the public want!" they would no doubt say. I'd say the reverse is true, mainly due to the over saturation of stories where every minute fibre of Will and Kate's lives is analysed, processed, photographed, filmed and spat out for consumption in the name of entertainment;  force fed to the general public. Modern day 24 hour rolling news is the worst culprit of all and they do it with everything these days - marriages, wars, celebrities and politics.

So the TV is unplugged. The net will be accessed only for work and I'll be settling down with a couple of good photography books including Susan Sontag's 'On Photography' - a book I haven't read since my student days. 

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Maier’s Streetscapes


The Vivian Maier website went live this week and it certainly didn't disappoint. For those of you unfamiliar with the Vivian Maier story, it all started with a box full of negatives purchased at an auction by John Maloof hoping they would form part of a separate project he was working on. The boxed negatives turned out to be just part of a massive body of work by Vivian Maier.

What makes the photographs even more fascinating is the fact that Maier wasn't a pro photographer but a nanny who would simply go out taking photographs on her days off, capturing the character of the people and places around her. The images she took are just quite simply superb and date from the early 1950's through to the 1990's.

The website does a fabulous job of bringing together the images and the remarkable story of a woman who left behind a collection of over 100,000 negatives, more than 3,000 prints, hundreds of rolls of film, home movies, audio tape interviews, and various other items that Maier kept from view during her life. The site has a varied collection of images that I'd certainly recommend having a look through.

Alongside the new website, a film and a book are also in the works and due to come out soon. The Vivian Maier Website can be found at www.vivianmaier.com

Friday, 22 April 2011

Foto Friday - No Footpath


I was going to write a post about the sad news from Libya regarding the deaths of Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros. I've decided that there are enough tributes online already - some good and others rather tasteless.

The events of this week, however, do bring into sharp focus the extreme risks of working in a war zone.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Making a Splash

Firestarter by photographer Markus Reugels 

This photograph caught my eye this week. Often high speed photography has the amazing capability to capture what the eye cannot see, but it is usually done from more of a scientific and technical perspective than an artistic based one. Markus Reugels' photographs manage to successfully blend both viewpoints.

The colours, shapes and textures are just beautiful and yet they exist for only a fraction of a second. The colours are simply added using food dyes and different coloured gels on Reugels' flash/strobe equipment.

This photograph, along with a few other terrific images, ( keep an eye out in the gallery for the image 'Big World in a Little Drop') have made quite an impact this week popping up on a couple of UK newspaper websites.

A good collection of Markus Reugels' images can be found on The Telegraph website HERE

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Terrific Timelapse


Here's a beautiful video of time-lapse photography video by Terje Sorgjerd that really hits home how beautiful the world that we all live in really is.

If we all have to alter the way we live and consume resources to keep our mother nature looking like this, then that is a small price to pay... no?

Found via the excellent duckrabbit blog

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Recommended Reading

The BJP is a UK photography magazine but they have a great website and blog too

Time for another list of recommended photography reading and I thought I'd mention the photography sites that cover all aspects of photography. These are the must follow photography news and information sites that i use to keep up to date with what's going on in the constantly changing world of photography.

First up we have the British Journal of Photography blog called 1854, so called because it was the year that the journal was established. The BJP mixes news, reviews and features on photographers with a good blend of UK and international coverage. If a major exhibition or a new piece of camera gear is coming out , this is usually where you can find out about it. The British Journal of Photography website can be found at www.bjp-online.com. Their photography blog 1854 can be found at www.bjp-online.com/blog

The next website is The online Photographer -  a truly brilliant information resource for photographer. Edited by Mike Johnston over in the US of A, the website has multiple contributors and covers literally every aspect of photography. This was the first photography blog i ever followed. Some of the more technical posts go way beyond what the average photographer would need to know, but as a website for keeping up to date with everything photographic, the Online Photographer is hard to beat. The Online Photographer can be found at www.theonlinephotographer.com 

The final website is The Photography Post and it's a new find for me. I came across the website just a few weeks ago via a Twitter link and was impressed by the Photography Post's content. It isn't the easiest site to navigate due to it's layout design and you have to sign up to comment and get the full benefit of the website feeds. That said, the content and  the diversity of photographic work displayed is excellent with some brilliant photographer's work headlined. The Photography Post can be found at www.photographypost.com 

A few other fantastic photography news websites to consider looking at are The Professional Photographer, Photo District News and Peta Pixel. Over the summer I'll be adding a few more suggestions on where to look online for your photography information fix.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Rope and Anchor

Fisherman's hut at Brancaster Staithe

The title of this post sounds like a Cornish pub. Ah well, lots done recently. A few design changes for one blog and don't worry, I'm still working away on the profile of Lee Miller. That should be ready by the weekend. I even have an idea who i'll be profiling after Lee. A brilliant photographer called... hmm i'll keep that a secret. I'll also be adding a photo each week to the blog - a bit of random picture posting.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Nashville Portraits

Portrait of Gillian by Mark Tucker

Ah i love film, i love Polaroid and i LOVE 5x4 cameras even though sadly I don't currently own one . It was with this thought in mind, while perusing through the mass menagerie of photography tweets, that i came across this little gem called 'My Day With'.

Taken on Polaroid film using a Graflex 5x4 camera with a lens older than my parents, several of these superb portraits show why film still has a place in any photographer's arsenal. Film photography just has such a unique look plus you have to work that little bit harder to get great results. No wonder Polaroid film has recently made quite a comeback via The Impossible Project.

Photographer Mark Tucker is the guy taking these wonderful portraits and he explains:-

 'I’m doing this side personal project, where I’m documenting offbeat characters in my town of Nashville, Tennessee. I’ve acquired an old 1942 custom made Graflex camera that shoots 4×5 Polaroid, and I’m shooting that, plus some Nikon, plus some video. I scan the Polaroids and then work with them. The lens is from 1941, and it’s amazing, how you never know how it’s going to render a scene.'

If you want a super photography blog to look at then I'd certainly recommend http://mydaywith.com/. A blog packed full to the rafters with truly great photography. Enjoy.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Heart of Glass


I don't often post about my client work but i'll make an exception for once. The photo above is a test shot for a local artist called Wendy who works with glass in such a fabulous and original way.

Lighting the glass in a way to see the full potential of the artwork has been the main issue to deal with. Standard lighting does nothing for the piece at all so I've had to think 'outside the box' with this commission.

This shot has a slightly more contrasty and experimental feel to it than the other glass artwork photograph i posted on my Facebook page. A series of images with the artwork in rural locations is also planned.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Uber Prints

Blakeney Harbour, Norfolk, UK

With the spring sunshine comes the realisation that i have to get some ideas put together for two projects this summer. Although I have quite a bit of time before Solo Photo Book Month starts again this year, I really do need to have a good think about how much of a challenge I want to give myself this year.

Last year I used my iPhone to take the photographs for the book submission but this year it'll be shot on film - probably medium format 6x6 black and white. This will add a substantial amount of time and effort to creating the book but I need to challenge myself more this year. As for book subject matter, i have no idea as of yet. One thing has been decided upon and that is that this year's book will be made available in print form.

My Norfolk project returns this year to help me retain some of my sanity. I did miss it greatly last year but the break from shooting was necessary. Again i need to find an angle to attack the project in a new and fresh way. As many of you know , the Norfolk project is a long term/until death photo project of mine roughly based on photographer John Tordai's fabulous 1992 Northumberland photography book that documented the northern English county.

In January, along with a new main website design, i launched yet another photography blog to feature my landscape photography. The Photography Print Shop is part photo print shop and part landscape photography blog. Work is added weekly that can be purchased as a standard photographic print or as a uber high quality limited edition Giclée digital archive print using the excellent Fotomoto e-commerce engine.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Three Headlines

Vehicles belonging to forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi explode after an air strike by coalition forces. Image copyright of Goran Tomasevic/Reuters

The recent success of a photograph by Goran Tomasevic goes to show how just one image can fire up the media's creative talents for summing up a news story - in this case the current conflict in Libya. Considering that the 'explosive' photograph, impressive though it is, doesn't really tell us that much, it has been used widely by the international press online and on the front pages of a huge number of newspapers.

What fascinates me the most is how the image has been used to visualise and add impact to three very different headlines. The New York Post used the not very subtle, if slightly amusing, headline 'Khadaffy Dead Duck'. Obviously the headline writer at the Post must be a big Tex Avery fan.

The UK's Daily Mail went with the more conservative 'Yes we would Kill Gaddafi' aimed to shock Brits over the breakfast table, and referring to the contradictory messages coming from the British government and the Ministry of Defence. The former saying that they would kill him if necessary and the latter saying they couldn't legally do it even if they wanted to. The final headline comes from i, a British newspaper that has the simple headline 'Allies divided over Libya'. 

Three hugely different styles of front page headline that have used the very same photograph. A good result for the Reuters photographer no less but it also shows how the context of a photograph can be changed by a few words of a headline. From gung ho attack through to an allied force divided.

Reuters have a great blog article about the photograph's use around the world that can be viewed HERE
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