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.
Last weekend I was in Hamburg to join the Craig Semetko workshop on street photography organised by LFI. Now, I will confess that I was a little dubious as to whether I would gain much from this and it worked out fairly expensive taking into account the fact that I had to book 4 nights accommodation and flights from the U.K. and face the hard fact that the value of the UK pound had plummeted by over 25% in Europe since it was decided (not by my vote) that we should pull out of the E.U. I have been shooting ‘street photography’ for around 50 years, and have exhibited it pretty much world-wide so would I really gain anything? In the end I decided that, at the very least, I would get to meet Craig who has been a friend on Facebook for a long time and whose work I admire. As it was I found I learnt more than I could have imagined, met some great new guys and together with the picture editor of Die Zeit Sunday magazine (you don’t meet people at that level every day of the week!) Basically I had a ball despite the cold Hamburg weather.
I have posted a few of my favourites below, all were shot on a Leica M9 with a 35mm Summarit-M f2.5 lens at 800iso to allow me the depth of field and shutter speed combination I wanted. I hope you enjoy them.
Oh, and if you get chance and street photography is your thing (or even if it is not) go and meet Craig. He is a great entertainer and a consummate professional when it comes to street photography. As for LFI, they are great guys and special thanks must go to Simon Schwarzer.
Below are a few of the images taken on the trip:
I found this small corner shop in the rural Hampshire town of Bishops Waltham: old Hampshire that is, not the New Hampshire masquerading on the north eastern corner of the United States. It bought back so many memories for me of when I was a child, and of walking to the corner store where Dolly would serve me with a white paper bag with my choice of sweets from a jar, all for a penny (yes, I am old). It is good to know that some things do not change, although there were the prepackaged confectioneries also available of course.
I have just published ‘Wilton & Wool – The Sheep Framing Heritage of Wiltshire’ on this link https://spark.adobe.com/page/vNzf3Tpw9WonI/.
All images were taken on a Leica M9 using a 35mm Summarit-M f2.5 lens.