Portraits

Night Tube

 

Below are outtakes from a recent reportage & portrait series taking during the opening of the Night Tube along with fellow documentary photographer Joseph Fox. It is a big deal for Londoner's who have longed bemoaned New York's subways operating right through the night. Joseph photographed solely on the Central line, myself on the Victoria line, the only lines open until autumn. The quiet scenes as the morning rolled on were punctuated by marauding drinkers and couples passionately embracing. The carnival like atmosphere created an an environment that made people more up for being photographed. The complete story complete with interview was published by American Radio station PRI - www.pri.org/stories/2016-08-22/what-london-tube-looks-past-midnight

 

Mamiya 7 II Test Roll

 

Last week I bought a Mamiya 7 II and took it for a rest run. I don't get that excited by cameras, they are just tools after all, but it’s hard not deny the rush of excitement when you have a new one in your hands and the creative possibilities appear endless.

To test it out I took the camera to the South East London emporium Khan's Bargains. Housed in a fading but fine art deco building, Khan’s offers a mind boggling range of things for your money. It's run by Akbar Khan and his disparate band of Afghani cousins. Having shot the range of products (from sewing kits to a special type fennel powder only produced in Afghanistan) for the Peckham Peculiar newspaper I’ve been meaning to go back to take some portraits ever since.

Here’s my idiosyncratic unscientific take on Mamiya 7 - The downsides are that it’s built like a tank, comically big. It is slow to use. It shoots medium format 6x7 negatives and so is expensive to use. The upsides are that it is slow to use. Ironically because it’s unusual looking its appears to intimidate less than your typical pro camera. I like that that it only covers one side of your face when your taking a portrait because it's a rangefinder. I like the colours from the Kodka Portra and the aspect ratio and perspective from 6x7 is just plain nice.

 

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Jaywick Revisited

 

I went back last month for the 10th year anniversary of the Jaywick Martello Tower which holds exhibitions throughout the year, including At The Water's Edge back in spring 2012. Unfortunately I could only find one of the people I photographed for the series, many seemed to have moved on. On returning back in London I went through the project and realised there were a few shots I didn't use that I liked. Hopefully give an indication of the real mix of personalities that live in this part of England, tucked away in the south eastern corner of Essex.

 

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Marginal Streets

 

Over the last couple of months I've been working on an election project called Marginal Streets with fellow photographer Joseph Fox. I had absolutely no idea how much enjoyable and effective it is working as a duo with another photographer.

The project was based on the discovery that England’s most marginal constituency from the 2010 general election was across the river in Hampstead and Kilburn. It would provide the perfect boundary for documenting a confused electorate, in what felt like Britain’s most uncertain election in our lifetime. We split the constiunecy in two with Joe focusing on the grittier western side, and myself on the plusher Hampstead streets. Originally conceived as a traditional documentary photography project to be published after the votes were cast, we thought it would be interesting to present the portraits daily in a blog format and distribute the images using social media throughout the ‘short election campaign’ - mimicking the constant stream of media coverage in the mainstream press but shifting the focus solely onto the voters, exposing their concerns and beliefs.

The project culminated with a street exhibition in the middle of the constituency. The pictures were taken on street, so it felt right to display them back on the street, rather than a traditional art gallery. The prints (which would not have been possible without our sponsor Papercolour) are still up and will last as long as they last.

 

Elsbeth Juda RIP

 

Last week a remarkable lady and talented photographer Elspeth Juda died. I was lucky enough to meet her in the late noughties, when she was in her late nineties. She was full of life and far from being a typical sweet old lady, so much so it was hard tracking her down as she was always being taken out to the opera or a gallery opening. She was a prolific photographer working for The Ambassador magazine from 1945 to 1960, and shooting for advertising companies and fashion magazines including Harper's Bazaar. Her work can be found in the British Library, Royal Albert museum or online here. But above all she was an inspiration, strong willed and self-possed yet incredibly warm. Below is a picture if her and her late Husband Hans, whom she lived without with great dignity and verve for over fourty years.

 

French House Pints Day

 

Last week the French House pub in Soho hosted its annual 'pints day' on April 1st. This may not sound particularly unusual but this historical London boozer has only ever served its pints in half measures in keeping with its history as a French drinking house (Charles De Gaulle allegedly drew up his Free French call-to-arms during lunch upstairs). After the war it became known as a bohemian hangout for many of Soho's late and great painters, writers and debauched dandies. It now contains a rag tag bunch rich in character who were a joy photographing in the street outside the pub, all of whom I knew from a brief stint working behind the bar. I was outflanked by the the official French House picture taker, Peter Clark, who specialises in black and white documentary photography. It was a strange phenomenon to be photographing whilst taking a photograph, probably stranger still for the subject. Below you can see him in action, and further down you can see the picture I took from this scene.

 

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