Almost every single time I'm writing a blog post I'm wandering where time went. In this specific post I wanted to write about a photography presentation by Greg Funnell that I went to on the 12th of February, and that was already well over a week ago! Thanks goodness 'late is better than never', and his work has not gone out of fashion in this short time span. This talk was organised by the Phocus group. From his website www.gregfunnell.com: "Greg studied History and War Studies at Kings College London before moving into photography. He's since spent the last 8 years working for clients that include Vanity Fair, The Sunday Times Magazine, The Guardian, the Financial Times, the Washington Post. Shooting everything from commissioned celebrity portraits, to travel assignments, in-depth documentary features and development work in the field for NGOs. He also works in the commercial and advertising sector producing campaigns and content for clients on international campaigns, especially in the travel, lifestyle and adventure industries. His work for charities and NGO’s in the UK and abroad, involves being relied upon to deliver the goods in often unstable environments. Having worked across Africa, South East Asia and Latin America for clients such as Save the Children, ActionAid and WWF." As the talk began, I felt a little bit like an intruder as I was the only non (phd) student present. The talk was interesting: Greg told us about his life so far (he's only in his early 30's), how he got into photo journalism by starting at the college newspaper, taking silly risks like going abroad without a solid plan and getting caught up in crossfires and learning on the job. He presented us with tips to get into the trade, amusing anecdotes about people he photographed and a short list of recommended books to read. He's taken a ton of amazing images so far, my favourite ones being the surfing images (I'm prejudiced!) and his portrait work. I will also admit to finding slight amusement in Greg's apparent diversion from his original planned story at times - it's so recognisable. I've only presented my wet-plating work twice, but both times I happily went on several side-roads to the subject we were discussing. Meeting Greg afterwards, I was a little surprised to hear that he has an interest in learning about wet plate photography. We agreed that come spring, he and his assistant could make the journey up from London to experience the process first-hand and perhaps even start using it in their London studio. I do hope he decides to do just that! Featured image by Greg Funnell, you can see more of his work on his website.
Last weekend Sean was attending a grueling Karate weekend in Scotland, which gave me ample time to visit London, and a couple of exhibitions that I knew he could not be bothered about. I started the day off early to make my way over to Portobello Market before it would get too crowded to see the antique shops and stalls - and see for myself what the jig was all about. Sean and I had been at Portobello before, mysteriously every single time on a Sunday - whilst all the antique and secondhand dealers are out on a Saturday! Dang! I did manage to find a few nice things within budget, a LOT of thing were very overpriced if you would plan to sell them on and I was happy that a lot of the dealer were willing to haggle. I ended up coming away with 2 antique human glass eyes, a blue and a brown one, both which I chose because of the nice realistic coloration and veining - and a bone turned pull. I initially thought it to be a thread holder, but the seller thought it might have been a chord puller for an early electrical appliance or servant caller. Either way, it's a good shape and I adore the heavy stained lines of the material on the smooth sides. I continued to the Science Museum at Exhibition Road to see the RPS exhibition: 'Drawn by Light' which celebrates photography in many different forms. There are many famous old images on display, as well as Talbot's 'mousetrap' cameras and more recent work by well-known RPS members. Each room has been given a theme, room 1 is continuity and change, room 2 optimism and progress, room 3 personal vision. It was beautiful to see some of the images of the old maters that are so rarely on display and the marvel at the quality of a print that has been preserved for well over a 100 years. I have been inspired to seek out information on other printing processes where the Vivex, autochromes and colour carbon printing take the forefront. I know that the curators tried to tie some images / themes together, but I have to admit that it was altogether too easy to forget that and admire the work directly in front of one's face. Some of the images are rather small though and when it gets busy, you may struggle to move around at your own pace. Should you be interested to go and see it for yourself, Drawn by Light runs to March 1st, 2015 at the Science Museum (2nd Floor) Right next to it, there was an exhibition of Nick Hedges' photography for Shelter. His images, taken in the last 60's - early 70's of slums in the UK were quite impressive. There is just no way to imagine people actually living like that, with children, whilst government officials know of their situation. It is therefore quite sad that you know that there are plenty of people today is similar - or even worse!- situations, making the work of Shelter and other voluntary organisations like them, all the more valuable. Nick Hedges' images can be seen to March 2015. The Victoria and Albert museum, better known as the V&A, is located across the street from the Science Museum and my trek after lunch was a short one. I went in to queue up for a ticket for the wedding dress exhibition. Sean and I have been engaged for a few months now, and the pull of some gorgeous dresses to gawk at was just too strong! The oldest dresses on show were stunning - with a mesmerizing amount of detailed handwork, my favourite one being a dress from around the 1900's, with bows of pearls sewn all over the skirts. Upstairs my favourite dresses were actually Kate Moss' dress by John Galliano (I was as shocked as you are, I don't like her media persona!), Gareth Pugh for Katie Shillingford, Flower Bomb by Ian Stuart, 'Jean' by Temperley and a creation by Ian Cooper and Marcel Aucoin. They were quite strict in the 'no photography' regulation enforcement, so I kept my nose clean for once. Thank goodness these dresses have all been photographed extensively elsewhere! The Wedding Dress exhibition runs to the 15th of March, 2015. As a last port of call I went to Liberty, as I had never seen this iconic British department store. One of my friends has worked there a while ago and the stories were always most wonderful - but it was not until I would see a TV show about Liberty that I was reminded to go and see it for myself. And I have to say, the building is great, the location is great, most of their merchandise is great... if I could afford any of it hahaha! I spent a little time browsing the vintage department and even though the selection was quite good, again, the prices were not of a nature to tempt me in the slightest. That's what you get from going to too many carboot sales! 😀
As we slowly mosey on into deeper darker winter, I have started my spring cleaning early. With all of my Etsy shenanigans going on, and two new pop-up / markets events in the pipeline, I decided to clear out some of my photographic gear. Even though we moved into a bigger property, it still seems space is at a premium as I struggle to find a place for everything. I had already noticed the mildew forming on some of my newer equipment and I was saddened to see that even my older bits and bobs were not spared this faith. Some of the camera covers, some of the antistatic cloths and even a cloth hairband all were infected and in need of a good clean or throwing out. Thank goodness none of the lenses were affected but it did provide me with an excellent excuse to pull everything out and get rid of thing I no longer need / have never used / I don't know what they are for! So keep your eyes peeled on my Etsy shop as I will be listing these goodies in the next few weeks to come!
At the end of January, we had the Big January Debate at the Cambridge Darkroom Meetup themed 'Is cropping cheating? where I was supposed to be one of the members on the discussion panel, sitting straight across one of the organisers Dom Reed, better known as Mr. Flibble on Flickr who makes heavy use of image editing in his photographic work. I was supposed to take the side of the purist, as a user of antique photographic processes - but I found it really hard to do so. Unfortunately for this event, we were not able to make use of our normal room at the Cambridge Brewhouse and we were forced to shift to the restaurant opposite. They kindly made space for us and pushed several tables together, pulled out some extra chairs and we made do. It was hard to try and hold a discussion in a noise restaurant, in the middle of a long table, and trying to get everyone to hear you, but as the evening progressed more people started joining in and it was great to see some new faces and hear some (new) opinions. The main questions of the discussion were: Is cropping cheating, any any techniques allowed, when does an image shift from photography into digital art. Dom point of view consisted mainly in: everything is allowed, the technology is there and why not use it? Sometimes there is just no other way to take a certain shot as practical, financial or timing issues get in the way. Sometime you think you got it right, but it turns out you are just a little off, what wrong with correcting this afterwards, especially if it helps the image? I do agree, but for the sake of the discussion I did not - and my main arguments were: It's lazy not to get in right in camera, there is zoom and sneaker zoom (walk to or from your subject) and there is such a thing as using the right tools for the job, researching your subject / location and timing, knowing your camera settings and making sure those are right for what you are trying to achieve. Having a great technical advantage is one thing, but can you really call yourself a photographer if you shoot on 'luck' or just on post-editing and say 'it's part of your process'. Blurry images have time and time again been excused as 'artistic intent', but when is it actually acceptable? We finished the discussion on an overall consensus that no-one actually thought that post-editing an image was wrong - in the understanding that certain jobs might require more, less or no editing. Like wedding photography (it's normal for images to be Photoshopped) or reportage photography (it's frowned upon to edit these images) Cambridge Darkroom - Photography Social can be found in Meetup.com - and we gather every last Thursday of the month.