As I am sure many of you know I am going back through my old negatives to make sure they are in my digital archives, and I am finding some that I have overlooked in the past. I particularly like these four from 1995 which form a lovely grouping from the Henley-on-Thames historical regatta. Another life, another society, another time. I hope you like them too. (Taken on Ilford HP5+ using Canon camera).
I have just been looking again at the wonderful photography of French photographer who, for me at least, ranks up there with the great names of Henry Cartier-Bresson and Robert Doisneau. When it comes to the world of social documentary photography there are few who surpass him in his capturing of the lives of the working man.
I first saw his work in Oxford maybe 30+ years ago and knew then that I was in the presence of a master. I travelled to Oxford on the strength of a couple of images seen in a magazine publicising the exhibition, and recall I had trouble finding the gallery. My efforts were not disappointed. Even now every time I see his work I sit with a smile on my face at his penetration of everyday life.
He is often overlooked in these days of hurried street photography in overblown oversaturated colour but I would urge you to look for him and the subtlety of his soft monochrome images – he is and always will be one of the greats!
You can see his work, and smile with me I hope, on this YouTube video which I hope you will find are a few minutes well spent.
I am pleased to say that you can now follow my images on Tumblr at
They display well there, and I would be delighted if you felt able to follow me.
This image, taken last summer using a Leica M7 loaded with Fuji Neopan 400CN film at Salisbury Livestock market, has just been chosen as a favourite by National Geographic editor David Y. Lee – quite an honour, and the second time this image from the Leica M7 has been chosen by National Geographic!
Sometimes it is good to refresh your ideas, or to face a new challenge, as a photographer especially if, like me, you have been stumbling along blindly for a very long time. It was with this in mind that on Saturday I drove down to Bath and attended a Leica Akademie day at the home of the Royal Photographic Society.
The day was managed by Robin Sinha (a good photographer in his own right) and featured the documentary work of the talented Celine Marchbank. We started with a look at Celines book about the death of her mother, a very deep personal piece of work which I found difficult to view following the death of my own wife from that dreadful scourge which sadly affects so many. The book itself showed how photo books can be a wonderful medium for presenting work, and Celine had the added advantage of a history in graphic design – and it showed!
After a very pleasant buffet lunch, and a play with the new Leica M10 (I want one!) we were sent off with the brief to bring back a group of images which could be edited down to produce a 10 image storyboard. The rest of the group headed into town but, because of walking limitations, I stayed very local and worked roughly 100 metres from base, concentrating on one of the very few antique shops left in Bath now. Luckily the owner gave me free reign to do whatever I wished. Below are my final selection of images, all of which were taken using my Leica M9 fitted with a 35mm Summarit f2.5. Interiors were taken at 1000iso, and exteriors at 400iso. Processing was using Lightroom CC, sometimes utilising a Kodachrome 25 preset.
I always find the presenting of my work to others daunting, and I have never been a heavy shooter, but I think I faired reasonably well in the final analysis.
The French art critic Charles Pierre Baudelaire (1821 – 1867) said about artists of that time:
“The painters of now must no longer spend their time in their studios studying plaster casts, clothing their subjects in the costumes of ancient Greeks and Romans: no, the painters of now must immerse themselves in the chaos of the city, plunge into the crowd, become at once mirrors and kaleidoscopes, reflecting every fragment, every corner of modern life no matter how base, vulgar or ugly. The painter of today must go in search of modernity.”
Of course Baudelaire would have been commenting on the future of the art which would lead to Impressionism and the work of artists such a Renoir, Monet and Pissarro, but his words and sentiments can be applied equally well to the growth of the nascent medium of photography which was increasingly powerful in its’ artistic importance.
His words should be used today as guidance to the value of street photography as an art form which is as vital and as valuable as a record of social history as anything any artist put by brush on to canvas.