Monday 18 June 2007

Photographer's Britain

Some photographers can have a small influence on your work and others can quite obviously feed into your image making so with the upcoming Norfolk trip looming, it seems fitting to write about the book that gave me the idea to document the county of Norfolk; the book is called Photographers Britain, Northumberland by John C Tordai and was published in 1993 by Alan Sutton Publishing.
I actually bought this book for two reasons; the first being that I like John Tordai's work in Palestine featured in the book 'Into the Promised Land'. The second reason was Northumberland which has always been a magical northern county full of castles, windswept beaches and rugged landscapes. It is a photographer's paradise!

The idea behind the book was to document the county that you were connected with, a sort of look at the county you know intimately. There was to be a whole series of these books by different photographers but i can only recall seeing this and another; I can't remember the photographer for the other book though. I do recall that it was for one of the home counties.

Tordai looked at the various areas of Northumberland from the streets of Newcastle to the rugged areas near to the scottish borders. Many images dealt with the changing social and environmental issues facing the north east of England during the late 20th century. Everything was shot in black and white with details about cameras, lenses and film used. Even the aperture and shutter speeds were noted in the book's notes section.

I decided to start a similar project back in 2004 and choose Norfolk due to its variety and location. The fact i don't live there didn't really matter; Tordai lives and works in London but he did grow up in Newcastle upon Tyne.

This year i continue the project and the images will be displayed on the blog and the website gallery. Colour has never played a large part in the project but this year it will, capturing the colourful county in all its glory. I usually go around the same time of year so the images are captured during a similar period each year in Norfolk's summer.

The first of my new images will be posted online in mid July and the gallery will follow in August.

John Tordai's book on Northumberland is currently out of print but if you can find a copy via the net or a second hand book shop, I would recommend you buy this book.

Top Image: Photographers Britain - Northumberland : J C Tordai (ISBN 0-7509-0100-4)
Centre image: Holy Island, Northumberland : J C Tordai

Bottom image: Burnham Overy Staithe, Norfolk : R Flint


Douglas said...

Hi Richard, I am a student and fellow fan of J C Tordai. I am doing an essay on his book 'A people Called Palestine" I cant believe theres hardly any information on Tordai anywhere. I only just found out that he grew up in Newcastle upon Tyne thanks to you. I was wondering how you found this information out and also If there was any more information you know about this artist? anything would help. Thanks.

Richard Flint Photography said...

Hi Douglas, well you certainly picked a great photographer. Sadly the amount of info about John Tordai seems to be very limited. The information i found was on the back of the book featured in this post. I have two books by Tordai.

1. 'Into the promised land' (ISBN 0-948797-61-4)published in 1991, the book features photographs taken of the Palestinian intifada for The Independent newspaper in 1988/9.

2. The book featured in this post 'Northumberland'(ISBN 0-7509-0100-4) he shot using a Nikon F3T and a Leica M4P in Jan - May of 1992. Ilford FP4 and HP5 film stock. Lenses used were Leica 35mm and Nikon 24mm.

All i can suggest, Douglas, is trying a few second hand bookshops and an Amazon search ('Into the promised land' was listed at £9.95) . I imagine that both of these books are now well out of print but you may be able to find them secondhand. Sorry i can't help you more. I had very little info when i did my presentation on him as a student too :o)


james holland said...

Delighted to see the comments on J Tordai's book on Northumberland. I discovered it by chance a fortnight ago and it has given me a lot of pleasure Almost all the images are excellent and he has provided extended captions.There are a few misprints but the book is a real delight and is far richer and more subtle than the lurid stuff we see nowadays. There are plenty of very cheap copies out there-so go get a copy!