Wednesday, 30 December 2009

John Pfahl, Smoke

Whoever thought pollution could be so beautiful?

Mitch Epstein

I love this image!

Jimi Billingsley, Brooklyn Evidence

Peter Bialobrzeski, Lost in Transition

Jeff Brouws

The New Topographers

Lewis Baltz

Joe Deal

Emmet Gowin

Frank Gohlke

Nick Brandt

I'm not really a fan of animal photography as such but I really admire Nick Brandt's work. He uses film to capture the images but outputs them digitally. Following on from our Christmas day conversation about analogue v digital, I think he shows us that the two can work together very successfully.

His images are very atmospheric and I think they are really quite beautiful.

Alec Soth - Sleeping by the Mississippi

Alec Soth, 'Sleeping by the Mississippi'

Sze Tsung Leong

I really like this guy's work. He's Chinese-American and British, born in Mexico City 1970, currently lives and works in New York and I have no idea how to pronounce his name!!

Again though, I'm attracted to not just the topic of his images, but the colours of them. He uses an 8" x 10" camera.

I'm also interested in the things he writes about photography. He is obviously into the history and the process of the art of photography but it's what he says about his series 'History Images' that I find particularly interesting:
The photographs in History Images are of histories, in the form of cities in China, either being destroyed or created at this juncture in time. They are of past histories, in the form of traditional buildings and neighborhoods, urban fabrics, and natural landscapes, in the process of being erased. They are of the absence of histories, in the form of construction sites, built upon an erasure of the past so complete that one would never know a past had ever existed. And they are of the anticipation of future histories, yet to unfold, in the form of newly built cities.

Cities are the largest, most enduring, and most encompassing documents of history, uniquely recording the variations and residues of time. Substantial urban change is generally expected to span over prolonged periods: decades, generations, centuries. The evidence of these changes is usually gradual and cumulative; residues of history are slowly left in built form, giving physical shape to the accretions of time. There are moments in history, however, that accelerate the rate of urban change: warfare, changes of regime, transformations of social structure, economic prosperity. These moments force societies to evaluate their relationship to their own history and their attitude to their future, in turn affecting their relationship to their environments.

I feel this thing about histories being destroyed is very important to me; I don't think I'm able to explain why it's so important to me yet, but I'm working on it!! There's just so much that we're losing - skills, knowledge, crafts, books, buildings etc. Even in photography itself we're being pushed towards new technology away from the traditional film and darkroom practices. It's so sad and so frustrating; so much of it is out of our control. I need come back to this when it's not so late and I'm much more able to express myself!!

Stephen Hughes, Brighton

Jem Southam, Brighton

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

David Maisel

Bella introduced me to this photographer's work. Some of them are very like Burtynsky's (the mining projects) but others are gloriously coloured abstracts and I love them! Again he photographs man's destruction of the earth but makes the most beautiful images.

The Endless Debate!

So this Christmas mum had a friend to stay - Bella Green. Bella is a full-time artist now although for many years she also taught. It was really good to talk to her. Her question to Paul and I was: "How do you convince the public that a photograph taken using film, developed and hand printed in the darkroom on quality paper etc, is worth more than an identical one shot and printed digitally? How can we help Joe Public appreciate photography as art?" And boy, did that get us talking!

In the end I'm not sure there's an answer.   Joe Public doesn't really care if the print comes from Ikea and there are millions of them in households over the world, at the end of the day it's just about whether they like it or not.

Perhaps it's only the collectors, those that understand the craft, skill and artistic input, that will appreciate that photography can, and is, a valuable form of art.

The argument is probably one that will never be settled - digital or film? It is pretty disheartening when you see the prices of everything - how long will the amateur analogue photographer be able to afford the materials etc. It's almost as if we are being pushed out of the skill and into something which anyone can do (or at least that's how it seems). After all, why spend time composing, measuring the light etc to get a shot on film, when if you just keep shooting with your digital camera you're bound to get at least one good shot!!

Despite having taught computerised graphics, I'm pleased to say that Bella was on our side! She has a passion (and a deep understanding) for colour and gets really fed up with artists who think that you'll eventually get the right colour if you just keep piling on the paint!!

Edward Burtynsky

Seems to be that every time I look at environmental photographers, I always go back and have a look at Burtynsky's work. Perhaps because it was the first of that type of work I saw that I was so struck by it. But it's not only the content of the images, it's the way in which he has photographed them. The colours are muted and subdued which makes them beautiful, even though they are images of destruction and devastation.

I was totally blown away the first time I saw his 'Shipbuilding' series.

I was given his book 'Manufactured Landscapes' as a gift last Christmas and the 'nickel tailings' photographs are extraordinary. Wonderful but scary at the same time.


I'm starting this blog in an effort to find some way of recording all the photography sites and photographers I look at, without having to print out all the photos etc. I find it difficult to 'co-ordinate' all the various bits to a sketchbook so I'm hoping that this blog will cover the on-line research.

This means the blog is private - so far! I can't imagine starting to write all my daily thoughts in it and having other people read them, but hey, you never know! Blogging could be my thing! I could become as addicted to this as I am to Facebook but I am hoping it'll make at least some parts of my research easier to record.