We don’t always have our camera with us when the poetry of life presents itself to us. As a photographer, these moments are, as I’m sure all of you will either know or can easily imagine, very frustrating. I do try though to see these rare moments as an opportunity, I try to wring something out of them! Recently I was stuck at London City Airport, which suddenly struck me as a very strange place. The airport is built in the docklands close to central London and was conceived as an ambitious way of giving the neglected area a new purpose. It has only a single runway and is located close to London’s financial district which means many a wealthy business person passes through its halls. I was watching the people come and go, and I wondered out to see people parking and dropping of. The London City Airport Parking is a strange situation. The cars come, and the cars go, no one ever stays for too long. Sometimes people come and they park and they fly away, just leaving their car there!
Poor lonely car…
I assume they return and get the car at some later date, which is why the market for parking London City Airport is so competitive! I watch them come, I watch them go, I see their blank faces as they partake in the miracle of human life that they have inevitably become jaded by. I see them shout down phones, I see very few smiles. I see the teeming mass of the modern economy that is, despite al its efforts, still made of flesh and blood, still made of humans who have to pile through the veins of the global body all in their individual races, raging together as one force that none can truly conceive of. It is a magic and a pain I wish I could have captured with a camera. But, and this is my point, I still captured it with my eyes and my thoughts. A true photographer and a true artist is always engaged and vigilant, no matter whether they have been robbed of the tools of their expression or not
Although it’s the newspaper headlines and TV coverage that shape the opinions of British politics – it can often be the most casually taken photographs than can turn the tide in the midst of a political maelstrom. Thanks to the 21st century’s sharing culture and the speed of which news services can pick up on trending moments – we’ve never been more in touch with the minutiae of political life.
Its not always been this way though. These photos, ordered chronologically, each tell a story. From different political leaders, both global and national, these politicians are framed in a moment that informs and suggests a certain context to the viewer.
Victory Day in Britain (1945)
Surrounded by the Royals and the Military leaders that aided him in ‘winning’ the Second World War. There are many iconic photographs of the Big Man, however no other image encapsulates the feverous popularity which he was awarded for leading Britain through one of the bloodiest wars in history.
Special Relationship (2004)
With the Chilcot enquiry being recently published, the furore over Blair and Bush’s incitement of the Iraq War is still a topic of much discussion. However, it’s easy to forget that at the heart of this awful conflict was a Special Relationship between two countries and two men, that sealed the fates of thousands.
Hug A Hoodie (2006)
Part of David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ campaign, his ‘Hug A Hoodie’ concept was dismissed by most as an attempt to pander towards both the lower and middle classes simultaneously. This photo captures the vitriol he caused, a typical young ‘hoodie’ showing his opinions of Mr. Cameron very clear indeed.
Farage At The Pub (2008)
When most people think of Nigel Farage, they think of Right-Wing Politics, Racism and Pints of Ale. Probably the least desirable poster boy for the sale of English Ale, the on again-off again UKIP leader is often photographed drinking in pubs. This early photograph struck a chord with the ‘everyman’ allowing him a brief surge of popularity during the upcoming election.
Bacon Sandwich (2014)
A photo of a man eating a bacon sandwich should not have spelled doom for any Party in a General Election. However, this particularly unfortunate snap had timing and public opinion on it’s side. Already viewed as a rather incapable leader, this photo furthermore led to the building opinion of Miliband as generally inept.
“We are creatures of light, especially certain types of light… Clearly we weren’t made for the midday sun. We were made for twilight. For reduced light. When light is reduced the pupil opens and we can really feel it.”
– James Turrell
A photograph is a story. Every photograph tells the tale of a moment and a thousands tales beyond that moment. The best photographs are a rendering if a moment and a reflection of all moments, of all life. So how does a photograph do this? How does it tell a story? What are its tools? Well, a key tool of any photographer and any photo is light. Light, dear friends, is what it is all about. Light creates everything: it creates the mood, it creates the shade, it creates the atmosphere, it creates the sensation of time and place, it creates emotion, it can incur hope, it can incur fear, it can incur love. Light, light is the thing.
See in this image of the underground section of the Canal St Martin in Paris, see how these beams of light create the photograph, create the spectacle. There would be no photography without light. This picture shows this so explicitily by making light the focus of the image, actual life itself, fascinating.
All pictures are composed, and light is always key to that composition. Different natural lights are incredible. What we have above us is post-storm light which can be truly stunning, what is so amazing about pictures in this light is that the sky, often the brightest part of the picture, is now the darkest, so consumed is it by cloud. This gives the light that is breaking through a unique position that is hard to find in any other situation.
When it comes to unnatural light, neon is one of our greatest friends. Vintage neon signs are making a come back to bars, homes and photographs, and neon light in enclosed spaces is providing some of the most atmospheric photographs you can imagine. Neon is bold and beautiful and when used by an artist of the caliber of James Turell, quite magical.
How do you capture the beauty of a building? How do you give a building personality in a photograph? How do you show the massive interplays at play with a complicated and massive structure? If a building has a certain implied essence that is only captured by the eye at certain moment and for a fleeting second, how do you go about figuring that essence out and putting it into a photograph? That is, in my eyes, the challenge of architectural photography. It is a challenge I feel we can all rise to with a little more understanding about how buildings are created and how they give meaning and artistic message across to the people who view them and interact with them.
You should talk to architects. I live in Liverpool and the first thing I did was just check out the work of a Liverpool architects on their websites and tried to gain some insight into the process that turns a vision in an architects mind into a building. I felt that once I understood that I could actually start to view those buildings in a new light: as a piece of art rather than simply a piece of the landscape. Every building is an incredible feat of creativity and invention. Even the most seemingly brutal and plain, most conventional and in-adventurous, the most boring, the most asinine building has been created, has had vision behind it, has had life behind it.
And that is what the best pictures of buildings capture, they capture the scale and the fact that these things are man made. They are all just little ideas from the mind of an architect, and architect who strived to create, who strived to build, who once a long time ago looked up at the world around them and decided they wanted to create that world. A bold idea and a bold desire, and one you shoudl have in mind when you embark on your artistic mission of photographic buildings.
It is an interesting area, fashion photography. Pictures here are heavily composed, heavily created, but then fashion photographers are so often trying to capture a moment of spontaneity and personalty from the model. This is the difficulty and the battle: between the heavily produced and planned nature of the composition of the photograph, and the demand for the model to appear natural and spontaneous. This is the work of the fashion photographer…
Marilyn, of course…
The models have to be part of the visual and narrative composition of the piece.
It is a difficult art, it takes the compositional skills of one who captures city scenes, with the personal camera-to-subject interaction of a fine portrait photographer.
Sexualization in fashion photography has long been present and contentious. Either through the age of the subject, as above with a young Natalie Portman, or in the trend to somewhat disembody the model by portraying only part of their form. A mere object for display, a simple part of the picture.
These photos, of course, are not true fashion photography in a way, they are not commercial photos to promote a product:
Then it’s a different game, where person and narrative take a back set. They are still their though, or at least can be:
So beautiful, such composition, a wonderful photograph. t
It’s like a movie still that, I love it. You totally get who these two people are. What motivates them and all the rest. Great.
Our intentions are fairly simple, we wish to bring you beautiful photography that will make you happy. That happiness might be reflective, it might be a deep happiness, it might be a fleeting happiness, it might creep up and attack you hours later, it might be a happiness built on old foundations, growing out of old roots, it might be a happiness you never saw coming, or one you don’t understand. It could bamboozle, it could confuse, it could change everything. Such may be the power of the visions we plan to share with you here. Such is our power.
What do we mean by ‘happiness’? Perhaps it is more akin with joy. We mean that these visions will connect you with your humanity, with the humanity of the world. They will breath life into you, like in all its shades and colours. This means that sometimes it will be sad, sometimes deeply melancholic, sometimes regretful and frustrating, sometimes aggressive and angry, sometimes smothering and scary, sometimes intimidating, sometimes welcoming. Sometimes they will memories of fun and joy out of you, memories of family and safety and excitement and optimism. Sometimes they will draw out your deepest darkest memories, the deep dark suppressed part of your psyche, some things you thought where best kept hidden, best kept away from you and away from the world. Things you are convinced should be kept secret, things you are convinced should be kept safe.
But they should not be kept safe and secret, bring them out, let us help you brig them out. Bring them out and lay them on a table to be exposed and analysed, lay them bare, lay them open, lay them out. A vision can do this, do all this and more, it can expose you and it can change you. And that is scary, but it is what you will do and what will make us move forward, forward to the impossible.