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Buy All Quiet on the Home Front here.

Buy All Quiet on the Home Front from ICVL STUDIO. It is also available now at the wonderful  Tipi Bookshop in Belgium, at Photobookst...

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Modelling for Photography Packet Photos: "This is for Dresden"



One of the most attractive things about smoking was the branding and the packets. But even though the branding on the packets (and see here for some cigarette packet collection by country) has gone, I still have a strange fascination of the images of disease and death you get on packets now. It's a fascination that dates back to my childhood when I would skim through my mother's illustrated medical guide for pictures of the most gruesome diseases.

The current packets with their graphic visual warnings still fascinate me and I'm guessing there are morbid people who collect them. If you are remotely interested in this, here are the approved EU health warnings.

Nice. I have always wondered who the people on the cigarette packets were. The guy on the bottom left is called Tom Fraine and he talks about the whole process on modelling for graphic warnings here from the model's perspective. I love the photographer who zipped the model into a body bag and said,"This is for Dresden." Who says Germans don't have a sense of humour.


I saw an advert looking for models for tobacco warnings. It was paid, so I applied and made the shortlist. I asked what I needed to bring to wear and they sent me a one-line email saying: “This is what we need you to do,” and attached a picture of a naked guy curled up in a ball. They told me I would get €100.

The other people on the shoot were from the photographer’s agency. They were after all sorts of setups: “Woman looking sad in wheelchair”, “Man blowing smoke in a baby’s face”, “Dead man in a morgue”. I went into a weird studio and they told me to take all my clothes off. I lay down on a makeshift bed while two guys on ladders stood over me, photographing. They were directing me from up there, asking me to look more anguished, or more angry, or asking me to rearrange myself because my testicles were in shot. But they got the shot. It wasn’t until the cigarette packets came out that I discovered it would be a warning about impotence.

The next shoot was even weirder. This time, I was offered €200 and asked to come to a disused hospital on the outskirts of Berlin. They painted my face grey, put me in a body bag and took me to the morgue. Being in a body bag really freaked me out, especially when the photographer zipped the bag up fully and whispered: “This is for Dresden,” before unzipping me. He had a dark sense of humour. That’s the warning advert where I’m playing the dead guy.

And for more tobacco labelling joy, go to the Tobacco Labelling Resource Centre. There are some grim ones in there. But none quite so grim as this one from Belarus which comes via Ivars Gravlejs... 




Linking this to the previous post on photobooks, what we sometimes have to remember is there are multiple photography worlds beyond photobooks that are much bigger than the photobook world. And the world of Tobacco Health Warnings  is one of those worlds!

Monday, 29 January 2018

There is Money in Photobooks But!


Image from Whitewash by Harit Srikhao


Akina is one of my favourite publishers. They make beautifully produced books ant Valentina Abenavoli and Alex Bochetto have an aesthetic which ploughs its own course.

But it seems that's not enough to make a decent living as a publisher. In a much-commented on post on Facebook, Valentina considered the dilemmas of making a living as a publisher, wondering why it was so much more difficult than in years gone by (when Daisuke Yokota was a very main event), and pondering the concrete difficulties of cashflow, including the dilemma of booksellers that don't pay invoices. And from the other side, there was the dilemma of booksellers that do pay up front for books and then can't sell them.

The reasons given were numerous. Now you have so many new publishers, new designers and people selling through multiple markets including their own websites, online shops, and photobook specialised shops. And they are publishing more books than ever before. It's a very crowded market.

I don't think the number of books being bought is going down, but because the spread of books is so much wider, the opportunity to make a living as a publisher (or bookseller) is diminishing. You really have to be reinventing yourself and redefining yourself on a constant basis. And that's exhausting and it becomes a Darwinian survival of the fittest. How can you juggle book-making with promotion, with writing, with film, with workshops, with buzz-making, with other work, with keeping up with what's new, with home life, with everything. I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

There's also the idea that the market should be growing. As people, such as Akina, move up from the raw dynamics of the photocopied book to something with much higher production levels, the idea is that the economics should develop with that. But perhaps the photobook industry as it stands is a zero-growth industry. Why should it grow? What are we doing to make it grow?

Or if you do want to make it economically viable then you can go down the path of some photobook publishers and make books where the bottom line is everything. Sometimes that's a virtue because even though the books are cheap the bottom line is incorporated into the branding, design and production - as with Cafe Royal. They make cheap books that aren't cheap. Then you get people who cut corners on design, on printing, on paper, on everything. And it's just a bit shit. But they make money and sell their books. Like market traders. Pile them high and sell for a quick profit. It works and if you can do it good luck to you. You don't have a soul but so it goes.

Now there are different ways of making money to fund new books. So you get Mack reprinting Pictures From Home or Ravens or Mississippi. And these sell by the thousand and make a lot of money for online sellers like Photobookstore. But people will only buy so many books. And so the money goes here rather than elsewhere. Which is fair enough really because they are brilliant books.

On the flip side to that, there are the bijou small handmade editions as exemplified by Reminders Photography Stronghold, Independent Russian Photobooks, Ceiba Editions (on a larger scale) and many more. The importance of paper, of supporting materials, of the tactile qualities of paper and the book as object are also entering larger scale publishers. The result is, I feel, more people are willing to buy limited edition books that are almost artists' books. Again, you spend more on some books at the expense of others.


image from After the Firebird by Ekaterina Vasilyeva 

That connects in to another, very practical point. If the photobook thing has been going on for ten years, that means a lot of shelves are filling up very quickly. Where do you keep all these books? You are much, much more likely to buy a pretty good book if you have lots of spare shelf space than if you don't. For many people, photobooks are very literally, and very harshly, a waste of space.

The febrile excitement has died down. The illusion of making money from photobooks, of the big buzzing book has evaporated. That's probably a good thing because it was an illusion and really rather stupid, but it was also kind of fun as this old post from a few years ago demonstrates.There's also the energy of the photobook world. Basically it relies on an energy and an engagement that punches above its weight. That's still there but the more manic aspects of it have dissipated. That's probably a good thing. The question now is, if you are used to that energy and the attention it generated (articles in newspapers announcing the Golden Age of Photobooks and the like), it's a bit disappointing to have to shrink back into the shadows and get on with the serious business of making a living.



There's also idea that people learn from experience or the examples of others. I'm not sure they do. Cafe Royal have been doing their cheap editions for years and they continue to sell. And there's also the exceptional example of the brilliant Mc Hotel (which Alex Bochetto gave to me years ago at Paris Photo and which was the absolute favourite among participants at the recent workshop I ran in Catania, Sicily), the classic 2 euro book.

Or the example of Mack who are reprinting old editions, which helps fund the less lucrative new editions I'm guessing. It's a good thing and a rejigging of the market to take in all those old books that are no longer cheaply available. It's been going on for years, but that little trio really marked something different. The problem is what a trio that was! You can't just reprint anything. It has to be top drawer and the fact it was published by Mack adds another level of value.

And then ultimately, there's the idea that the stories that photobooks tell aren't that interesting. Not that all photobooks need to have a story. They don't. depending on the subject, the structure, the voice etc. But so many now fetishise the obscure and make a virtue out of sequencing without story, as though sequencing makes a story. Sequencing isn't narrative.  The over-emphasis on the importance of sequencing, above all, can lead to photobook confusion and disappointment for the potential buyer and a closing down of a potential market. There are too many people who are catering to the 10,000 (if you look at it from an optimistic global view, or 500 if you look at it from a more pessimistic national view) people that buy books and the imaginary and rather simulacral visual language that has developed within photobooks over the last five years.

The final thing is we really are limited in our corner of photobook world about what photobooks are. We are incredibly snotty about them.

Last year I made All Quiet on the Home Front. That was made in an edition of 500. The other book I have just finished co-writing and editing is Magnum China. The whole process is on a much grander scale, the editing process is completely different, and it involves Magnum so there are those complexities (and the number of medical hours taken up fixing the noses put out of joint must be in four figures). The biggest difference though is the print run, or the print runs because it will be published in multiple languages. They are huge. We're talking Frankfurt Bookfair, whole forests will be decimated for Magnum China. But the photobook world I have been talking about wouldn't even consider it a photobook. Because it's not so that's fair enough.

But it says something. There is money in photography, and there is in books containing photography. Perhaps we just have to rejig how we think about photobooks. Or if we don't do that, just accept that it's a small bijou world and be happy to be part of it.

Friday, 26 January 2018

This Land is Not Your Land: Black Men Walking, Peaky Blinders and Holocaust Day



I was reading this article by Afua Hirsch earlier this week, an article in which she writes about how she is repeatedly told that there is no racism in the UK.

“Life’s moved on from race,” one of my fellow panellists told me on The Pledge. “If it’s well intentioned, it’s not racism,” said another. All of this was, very ironically, good evidence of my point: that white fragility operates powerfully against progress; that there are those in our society, including high-profile and influential people, who prefer defensiveness to a cold, hard analysis of the patterns of prejudice.

..................

The world is wrong,” wrote the American poet Claudia Rankine. “You can’t put the past behind you. It’s buried in you; it’s turned your flesh into its own cupboard.” To be black, in a society that invented race for the specific purpose of dehumanising people who are black, and then invented an equally formidable system of denial, is to carry the burden of history that others would rather forget.

....................

“I don’t see colour,” they say. And so I find James Baldwin echoing round my head: “I don’t really believe in race. I don’t really believe in colour. But I do know what I see.”

In the same edition of the newspaper I was reading I also read about Black Men Walking, a play based on a Black Men Walking group based in the Pennines in Yorkshire.

There was a section when they were walking along an old Roman road and one of the men wondered that he was following the path of  the black Roman emperor Septimius Severus who had passed along the road on his way to try to conquer Caledonia.

He was writing a British history that didn't correspond to the generally accepted British history, one which extends to the visibility of black walkers and celebrates the idea that there were Black people in Britain 2,000 years before the Windrush landed. The walking group was founded simply because here were people who enjoyed walking, but a side effect of that is it makes apparent the lack of a historical visibility of black walkers in remote beauty spots such as the Pennines.

But history is not static and world view are not static. I remember going to the English seaside town of Weymouth with a class of migrant students. We landed up on the beach and it was a sea of black and brown skin, of hijabs and shalwar kameez amidst on a mostly white beach. And one of the girls, born in Pakistani, looked around and said "This place isn't like the rest of England. There are no black people here."

And she was right. It wasn't like Bristol, particularly Easton, where she came from. It was a place that was symptomatic of the urban-rural racial divide of Britain, the ways in which BME communities are concentrated in the cities. The irony of course, is that the most racist (and pro-Brexit) places in the UK are mostly those with the least diversity.

Perhaps one additional cause of this is the idea that the English countryside is not seen as black (the seaside is actually different in many regions) and it is not represented as black. You can look at advertisments by companies like Great Western Railway and you won't see a black face (you will actually - there's a guy in a hot air balloon you see for a second. He doesn't even get to tread on the land which makes it even worse) in there as their animated trains tootle through Dorset, Devon and Cornwall. This is not accidental. These are adverts that cater to an imagined, idealised white Britain and are based on the children's books of Enid Blyton. For one perspective of Enid Blyton, read this article by Hardeep Singh Kohli.

While I never regarded Blyton as high art, neither was I aware of her more questionable work, work that attracted criticisms of racism, xenophobia, elitism and sexism. In 1937 she published The Little Black Doll, a story about Sambo. Unsurprisngly, Sambo wasn’t like the other toys in the toy box; no. Sambo was black and so hated by all the other toys and his owner for having an “ugly black face”. He runs away, gets caught in the rain and finds that the downpour has washed his blackness away. He’s now pink of face and welcomed back to the body of the kirk. Seven years later Blyton released The Three Golliwogs featuring Golly, Woggie and Nigger.

The point of this article is that we mustn't rewrite our past, but we must remember it - with all its failures and disasters. And work to make the present better than the past.

I don't think we are quite there in the UK yet. As Afua Hirsch and the Black Men Walking Group show, we need to both address the denial of the present reality but also redefine the history of the country.

I am currently editing my German Family Album; it's an album of images of my German family from the 1920s to 1942. At the same time I am revisiting some histories of the Holocaust and the rise of Nazism. It is astonishing to see how fascism and nationalism inundate every aspect of life, and can be projected directly onto images.

There are images of people walking in my album, of trees and the forest. These are not neutral images. The forest was a fetishised symbol of the fetishised Volk of nationalist Germans, a place that was supposedly truly German in place and in spirit, a place at odds with the industrial expansion Germany was undergoing in the late 19th century and beyond. It was a place Jews did not go, or at least were not seen to go because anti-semitic lore regarded them as the antithesis to the four Fs - "Frisch, Fromm, Fröhlich, Frei" ("Hardy, Pious, Cheerful, Free"). These four fs were the symbol of the German Gymnastics League and formed an early form of the German version of the swastika.

One passage in Laurence Rees' book The Holocaust talks of how German Jews had to form their own hiking groups to get into the German countryside. One member, Eugene Levine, remembers:

'"I remember in my hiking days being in a railway compartment going home to Berlin, with my rucksack and my brown shirt." Sharing the compartment with Eugene and his friends  was a farmer, who started swearing about the Jews, and so we said. "Well look, we are all Jews." And he roared with laughter, and he said, "You must think we country people are daft. You are obviously nice clean-living German boys. You're not going to tell me you're Jews." And he meant it. Because we weren't dirty, we didnt' wear side locks, we didn't have a caftan, we didn't have a beard. We looked like any other German boys to his eye."'

Levine writes that this farmer was part of a rural community that had probably never seen a Jew, the irony being that these communities were amongst the most anti-semitic in Germany, conflating anti-semitism with the threat that industrialisation and mechanisation posed to ways of farming  that were fast becoming economically impossible in a newly industrialised Germany.

Though they were formed with a much more fundamental life-affirming intent, the Black Men Walking Group are also operating against a pre-conceived idea of what English land is, and also what English is.

It's a struggle that you can link to the Allotment Act, Hunting Laws the Enclosures, the Right to Roam and much much more besides. It's also linked to how the land is portrayed, how history is portrayed, how race is portrayed, how land is portrayed. In the article on walking, Dawn Walton, says:

“Every time a black artist is in a costume drama,” says Walton, “people kick off. I don’t know why. Like many of us, I’m very aware of the history – the erasure, actually – of black British people. Researching the last 500 years, it’s a pretty rich scene. And guess what – no one’s told those stories. So that’s my playing field.”


Telling these stories is what changes history, but there are so few people telling these stories. But there are a few exceptions. Perhaps the best example is Peaky Blinders, the beautifully filmed and massively stylised  story of Birmingham gangsters, with beautiful Cillian Murphy in the main role. This is one of the few (the only off the top of my head) historical dramas that place power in the hands of a working class (and gypsy) community, that centres events in the city, that focusses on regional rivalries complete with cockney wankers, bible-thumping Ulstermen, and a roguish North London Jew, that has upper-class characters who are just as venal, self-serving and corrupt as the gangsters, and that also has made an effort to put black characters in major roles.

It sets out to redefine the  period drama and with that comes a little redefining of British social history and what it  urban and a rural Britain look like.

History is not static in other words.


Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Books that haven't been published: Juliana Beasley's Polaroids


These are Juliana Beasley's Polaroids, a side project to her Lapdancer pictures which were published in book-form and are one of the few cases of dancers/strippers where the person actually making the work is the person who is immersed in the work rather than being there for the purpose of the project, Nikki S.Lee, Sophie Calle notwithstanding..

These polaroids are an example where the crossover between the photography and the people photographed takes place in territory that sits very uneasily between one world and another (and it should be noted that Juliana used to assist Annie Liebovitz before turning to Lapdancing to make a living. Or that after working as a lapdancer she made a great project on Rockaways which should also be a book. But so it goes).







The upshot of this approach is that they are happening within that world of dancing, in the before-times, the end hours and the off-moments, so there is a happenstance quality to them that allows the people photographed to come through with a degree of subtlety that the handwritten texts both adds to and takes away from in places. There is a touch of authenticity there which the photographic project and generic intentions haven't stripped away. There's sadness in there, hardness, dysfunction, sexiness, openness, concealment and theatricality. It's a portrayal of the masks with which people disguise themselves, or don't.

We've just had the end-of-year lists come out for the best books, but sometimes it's worth wondering at books or exhibitions that don't come about, that haven't happened yet for whatever reasons, most often to do with the simple economics of publishing and exhibiting. It is much, much easier to publish if you have a trust fund for example. This is one of those books or exhibitions that hasn't happened yet. But it should because these are quite fantastic. One day. 














Monday, 22 January 2018

The Bland Fundamentalists of Instagram


Instagram is a strange and alien tool that panders to our need to click and seek digital approval for our images. It is absurdly addictive and turns many of the people who use it (myself included - let's not pretend here) into like-seeking refresh junkies. You're on Instagram, that's what you do.

It's a conformist application with a form of censorship tht is infuriating and seemingly random, while at its heart is part of a corporate cultural imperialism with a spectral Anglo-American perspective on the world with weird and diverse religious undertones that pander to double standards and hypocrisy on a global scale. It's a weird kind of bland fundamentalism. Or something. I really don't know what it is.

The book Pics of it Didn't Happen  gives an overview of  one side of the argument, showing pictures that have been censored by Instagram, with an emphasis on  'how taboo very ordinary elements of female bodies, such as hair, fat and blood, have become.'

So there's that. And when little patches of blood are taboo, or bodies that are large, there is definitely something odd at work.

You get famous photographs that include nipples including these by Imogen Cunningham censored. But you can post works of art featuring nipples. So that's OK then.

If they are male nipples, then you are allowed to post them, hence the site Genderless Nipples.



So you can have pictures of men and boys showing nipples, but not of women or even children. This picture from All Quiet on the Home Front was censored by Instagram when I did Instagram takeovers on both the BJP and Photographic Museum of Humanity, possibly for that reason. However, it wasn't censored from my personal site, so the suggestion is that it's not an algorithm doing the job on this one. But I would venture that the image below is far more obscene than the image up top, not because of anything it shows but because of the view of childhood and family that it pressupposes. Not to mention the blatant sexism of covering up a girl's torso while allowing a boy's torso to be shown. This is a kind of Instagram hijab for 6-year-old girls, and with it comes a misogyny that is being spread globally at a speed and with a spread and depth that surpasses almost anything.



The image up top, which shows an image from my German Family Album (which I'm sharing on my Instagram account as I try to get to grips with it) was also censored after being online for a few days. I'm putting it back on with a big censored sign across it.



The image is from 1929, and is titled, in translation, The Judgement of Paris - which is a great title. It's funny but a bit odd. But because there is a penis showing, a 1929 penis, it is banned.

Ins its  'community standards', Instagram states that childhood nudity is questionable because 'even when this content is shared with good intentions, it could be used by others in unanticipated ways.' There are plenty of places in the world where this kind of childhood nudity is not questioned, yet here is Instagram questioning it on our behalf.

But it's the doublespeak of the language that Instagram uses that confounds me. I know we should all pretend social media is a community and that we're sharing, but every now and then let's call bullshit on the language of sharing. So first of all, posting a picture is not sharing and Instagram is not a community. Second of all the idea embedded in this text that predatory paedophiles are trawling through Instagram for pictures of semi-naked children is absurd.

Rather Instagram is imposing a particular view of women, of childhood, of sexuality on the world. It's a form of cultural imperialism that comes directly out of Anglo-American fear of the body, in particular the female body and the child's body. It's a worldview that is completely at odds with large parts of the world,  and is continuation of a war against the body, a shaming of the body (especially the female body), laced together with a commodification of the body and the family that has been going on in various forms for hundreds of years. Anne Higonnet's Pictures of Innocence and Philippe Aries' Centuries of Childhood are good starting points for this discussion, as are the religious right of all religions but I feel we are entering fresh territory now with the overlap of social media into these areas.

And it's massively important. How the body is represented affects how we see the world, how we behave, how our children behave. You can see in places how religious fanaticism (and it's not just one religion either) has entered the mainstream and transformed the way people dress, behave, and interact with each other.

You will get the same with Instagram and other social media. It communicates ideas of what is acceptable and what is not and people adhere to it very quickly. What appears on social media becomes part of a global way of thinking and seeing and doing. And it's not a community way of seeing, thinking and doing. It's a US corporate way of seeing, thinking and doing. It already affects what we post, for many it affects what they photograph, and that means it affects the way we behave, but on a huge, amplified scale.

And the best thing is I'm still on Instagram, because it's the ultimate tool of narcissism (or is that Facebook, or Blogger, or Snapchat...) and  that's how they get you.


Friday, 19 January 2018




Mère et Fils (Mother and Son) by Anne de Gelas is the follow up to her wonderful, but tragic L'Amoureuse. It tells the story of how Anne reconfigured her relationship with her son, and with herself, her lovers and her own body, after the death of her husband (the immediate aftermath of her grief is the subject of L'Amoureuse which you can read about here).

The advantage of video reviews is they will be reasonably quick and I will learn some basic editing by doing it again and again.

The disadvantage is you can't say as much as you can when you write. At some point in this review I  talk in brief about the authenticity of de Gelas's pictures, but also the flaws of her pictures. They are staged, they are a theatre, but somehow that makes them even the more real. The authenticity comes from the drive and intensity of the emotional narrative that she delivers through her pictures, her writing (half of which I don't understand - but it doesn't matter) and her drawings. The authenticity comes from the fact that she has a story to tell, a story she cares about, that is rooted in her mind, her soul, her body and her son. Too often, stories that are based upon staged images have no heart because they are coming from places where the story doesn't really matter, in narratives that don't really have a soul. They sometimes pretend to have a head, and move the focus to the cognitive but really they are empty vessels. . It's a complex story but she tells it beautifully. Mère et Fils isnt' like that. It's a story that matters!


Buy Mère et Fils here.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Jigsaws: the Google Street View of back-in-the-day



Every year we do a jigsaw in our house so we get to see lots of pieces of jigsaw on the table for a few weeks. This year the jigsaw is of Knavesborough, a picturesque town with rows of houses (easy), a bridge (easy), sky (horrible but not too big), river (very difficult) and trees (impossible).

Scattered in the jigsaw we also get to see people. And it got me to wondering who these people are. They are incredibly anonymous people. It also got me thinking that maybe jigsaws are the retro equivalent of Google Street View/Satellite imaging. On a far more limited scale and with jigsaw shaped pieces and frames instead of pixels and stitching software.



On Google Street View, you get a few odds and ends of people scattered in the cracks of its imagery and people make images of them, make books of them, or at least they used to when that was a bit more of a thing and was interesting for a time. You even get people who say hey look, there's me on Google Street View. There's a visibility to it.



But jigsaws, not really. I have never met anybody who has said they have been in a jigsaw, not that I've asked anybody. It would be a bit odd reallly going up to somebody and randomly asking them, "hey, have you ever been in a jigsaw?" Just as it would be a bit odd to go up to somebody and randomly say, "You know the Lyme Regis 1,000 piecer by Steefenback Jigsaws. Well, I'm in that. I'm the woman standing by the fishing nets."



In fact, it would take a huge amount of coincidence to even recognise yourself in a jigsaw. You'd have to be making it, and then recognise yourself. And how do you recognise yourself in a jigsaw when the figures are generic and lacking in distinguishing features due to scale and distance. If you wanted to brag about being in a jigsaw, then you'd really need to be at somebody's house when they were making the one you were in and then you could say, "hey look at this piece. That's me." Then I wonder if you would memorise all the pieces around you and be able to get a jump on the puzzling.



So now that the GSV theme has run its course (for the time being), perhaps there should be a return to jigsaws, which are the analogue equivalent of the GSV/Satellite crossover. Perhaps there's a project in that, perhaps somebody is already working on it. Pictures of people in jigsaws, the idealised world of jigsaws. The trouble is GSV provides relatively high rewards for the relatively minimal time invested. Jigsaws are a fucking nightmare. They take an age and the rewards are minimal - you get a couple walking under a bridge and that's about it. And they take up so much space.



Which is why you'll never get jigsaw cafes, or jigsaw photobook projects. The visual rewards are pitiful and the  time investment is simply too great. Because when I think about the length of time we have been working on our jigsaw of Knavesborough, I come to the shocking conclusion that this picture is the image that I have looked at most since the jigsaw we did last year. In fact the images I have studied most in my life are ones that appear on jigsaws. And I've looked at these pictures in fragmented but sophisticated ways that (as well as taking in things like edges and jigsaw shapes) includes content, tone, colour, pose, hue, shape, edges, feathering and much more besides.



Sometimes we talk about new kinds of seeing and the importance of getting people to look. Perhaps we should consider that there are all sorts of ways of seeing that are very mainstream and we use them all the time, or once a year for me in the case of jigsaws. I might not look at jigsaws in the same way as I look at a photobook for example, but I still look at it. And that goes for a hundred different ways of looking, seeing, spotting, observing and noticing, all of which have their own science and research base, a research base that in some ways is far more rigorous than what we have in our corner of photography. In other words this corner of photography is the way of seeing that is on the margins and we should learn from the real world.

But at the same time it's less rigorous in terms of poetry, or vision or heart and soul. And that ultimately is what matters. So even though I looked at that jigsaw puzzle for hours upon end, it was all a quite distant kind of looking and seeing. There was no soul in the picture the jigsaw was based upon, there was no soul in the jigsaw itself. There was no soul in the making of the jigsaw. And soul is the goal. It's what machines, data and algorithms don't have.




Monday, 8 January 2018

All Quiet on the Home Front Review



The latest book review to go up on my nascent youtube channel is Isabel reviewing All Quiet on the Home Front, or going through the pictures she likes - which is always interesting - as well as her interpretation of this fantastic father's day card.






Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Titus Simoens' For Brigitte



Happy 2018.

I'm kicking off the year with my first book review, For Brigitte by Titus Simoens, published by APE.

This super-smart book is a reinvention of the family album, with Simoens taking on the role of editor and reinventor in making a kind of dedication to Brigitte through her mass of family pictures, though actually the sequencing and cropping of the pictures is kind of random, determined by Indesign and file names - which makes it not random at all in other ways.

It's a lovely book that I've warmed to and keep returning to. But in the spirit of time management and learning something new, I'm putting them on my Youtube, er, Channel? And there is very obviously more learning to be done!

Buy the book here.

Read more about For Brigitte in this lovely piece by Stefan Vanthuyne.