We’ve taken on a house refurbishment project in Islington which – when it’s finished – will allow me to have a darkroom and workspace on the lower floor. It means I’ll be leaving 1a Iliffe Yard, which has been my base for the last 3 years, but it does mean I can finally have my own darkroom again. I’ll say that again: My Own Darkroom!
It’s an old house, built in 1802, and the powers that be have decided it’s of historical significance – which is nice, but means we are very constricted with our modifications and the authorities must approve every little thing, hence the long wait before we can move in.
As a bit of fun I’ve started using my iPhone to do some street photography. To be honest it’s a very different experience to using my regular axe – a Leica M and a 50 – but, as I say, it’s a bit of fun.
Bloomsbury, London. January 2012
I’m uploading the pictures using the Instagram service. If you have an iPhone you can follow my project as it develops.
Richard Dunkley invited me to a screening of the film he made about the printer Robin Bell, at Calumet Euston on Monday afternoon. Richard’s done a great job with this – I highly recommend you see it if you’re interested in black and white printing.
As you probably know, I’ve known Robin for several years and have great respect for him as a friend and as a printer.
The DVD of Richard’s film The Silver Footprint contains over 40 minutes of extras, apart from the documentary itself, with Robin demonstrating the craft of black and white printing. If you print yourself you’ve got to see this! Robin is the best in the business and he gives a masterclass.
You can order the DVD from the website and, if you’re interested in black and white photography, I suggest that you do.
My studio is located in an old Victorian artisan’s workshop in Iliffe Yard, South London. The yard was built by a Victorian builder and developer called Pullen as a kind of live/work unit, though sadly the doorway through to the adjoining flat has long since been sealed off.
Iliffe Yard is one of three yards, the others being Peacock and Clements, collectively known as the Pullens yards.
All the yards are now occupied by artists, artisans, media professionals and architects, and twice a year we throw open the doors and encourage people to come in and have a look at what we do. Members of the public can have a chat and also buy examples of our work direct from the studio.
We’re open from 6pm to 9pm on Friday 2nd December, and 11am to 6pm on Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th. I hope you’ll drop by unit 1a Iliffe Yard at some point and say hello.
One of the reasons I’ve never been interested in digital photography for serious work is that, aside from convenience, I couldn’t see the point. It was basically just a different way to do the same thing. That is about to change.
As from next year digital photography will finally break free from simply mimicking film and capturing light as it falls on a single plane, and as it does so it will create a totally new art form. It took seventy years for photographers to stop imitating painting and recognise that the camera’s unique strength was it’s ability to capture a moment in time in two dimensions: next spring digital photography will make a similar leap away from photography as we know it, for as from “early 2012″ you’ll be able to buy a Lytro.
I urge you to follow the link and check out this thing for yourself, since I can’t explain what happens inside the box, but simply put – the Lytro doesn’t capture an image on just one plane, but all the light that enters the camera. This means that, for instance, you can change the focus after you have taken the picture. Take a second to think about that.
There’s a sample picture on the website and there have been some opportunities for members of the public to play with these things, so it seems this isn’t an early April fool. It’ll take a while for me to even begin to figure the possibilities of this device, but I have a feeling photography is just about to change irrevocably.
I do find it dreary when people moan on and on about the kind of work that is selected by prize juries, I really do, and I know the worthies involved feel the need to surf the zeitgeist, keep the prize relevant, all that. But I’m sorry, I think this is going to be a rant.
Flicking through the shortlist for this year’s Taylor Wessing Prize makes my heart sink. When are we going to break away from this lazy, Düsseldorfian approach to portraiture? I’m not saying there aren’t some great portraits there, Jill Wooster’s piece is stunning for example, but the jury insist on packing the list with pictures that could have been taken by one photographer.
Have we really reduced photographic portraiture to the level of mundane formula? Where is the sensitive use of light? Why are the subjects stripped of all context? And – God forbid – movement? Why do they all make me feel just so bloody glum?
There are some photographers doing great portrait work out there. Laura Hynd, for instance, or Leonie Hampton – I’m sure many of the shortlisted photographers have work that is more interesting than what was chosen.
These days I don’t use contacts any more – who does? – everything gets scanned and filed away in Lightroom. An early step in this process is the rating of pictures, and those that get a low rating can often be hidden from view forever.
This is generally a good thing – who needs to see bad pictures? Sometimes though a diamond disappears into the depths of the low-rated only to be, with a bit of luck, rediscovered later. This is one of those:
Walworth Nude 164
It’s from a test Elle Black did with me in August. I’ve just found it by accident on a quick flick through Lightroom. I like it a lot.