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Showing posts from July, 2011

Fear and quantity

It was sunny yesterday and I thought if it was fine today I should head over to the part of the (massive) A46 road project where I first took some shots a couple of months ago, that I liked.  So I was a bit anxious after considering that.  Both about the motorbike ride over and in case of an unfriendly encounter with security.  But nah, today I filled the bike with petrol and set off anyway.  A few days ago I read a quote from Lewis Baltz;

"Since I have the sort of character and mentality that I can feel anxious and pressured about nothing, I might as well be going places and doing things to feel anxious and pressured about."

Six miles outside town I abruptly pulled over to shoot for an hour at another section of raw development (that I'd forgotten about) and then was sorely tempted to go home after that, still feeling edgy, or a bit unwell.  But after mentally to-ing and fro-ing for ten minutes back at the bike I gave in and stuck to the original plan and headed on, kn…


appropriating meaning/theft

There are all kinds of images of transformation around us, both current and and from history (and art history) which impinge on consciousness when making photographs.  Although I'm an atheist I feel a bit nervy about appropriating something from the back catalogue of my life/peoples' belief - the Crucifixion being the big one. I grew up in a Catholic family with this (and other religious inconography, such as Jesus showing his glowing heart and the Virgin Mary, both as big framed prints and tacky sculptures) being all over the house.  My parents were Irish and despite living in England for over fifty years the presence of these reminders of faith eventually reduced but never disappeared in their lifetimes.

The Crucifixion, seen in physical terms it is a terrifying destruction of a sacred life - but religious interpretation explains it as the necessary step towards liberation, life after death.  Generally destruction of one form is required for another form of existence.  On a …

Longevity of Cindy Sherman

I recently got Susan Bright's impressively illustrated 'Art Photography Now' and had a flick through - the page on Cindy Sherman alone made it worth buying. Her family liked to tell her 'it doesn't take any brains to do what you do', which worried her, and she writes;

'I don't theorize when I work. I would read theoretical stuff about my work and think "What? Where did they get that?" The work was so intuitive for me, I didn't know where it was coming from. So I thought I had better not say anything or I'd blow it.'

It's a good piece, and the part about 'summoning' characters in front of the camera resonates with me. The inevitable obsolescence of Cindy Sherman's (everyone's) work was something I was thinking over yesterday - in between watching telly, drinking tea, taking pictures and downing bars of Toffee Crisp (4 for a quid at the Co-op). Most photographer-artist's work becomes dated fairly quickly nowa…

Various kinds of work in progress

Lincolnshire Wolds

Something I keep meaning to do every summer but never get around to it is bike out to the Wolds with a book and a snack for an afternoon/evening.  SoooOOo, finally, this year I checked the forecast and set off.  Although I didn't find quite the right tree I walked for miles and even did an impromptu shoot with a couple of items of clothing I brought along just in case I found somewhere quiet and out of the way.  I read one page of 'Art Photgraphy Now' which justified carrying it in my rucksack all day.  It was sunny and nice and the gently swelling clouds above the softly folded fields made me realise why John Constable was compelled to paint England's landscapes.

Some photos of fields and skies here: Wolds

New York Maid (with hammer)

Body & Shed

Preparing for a dressing-up shoot can take up to two days now - as for the false eyelashes I got yesterday, assuming I can manage to put them on, that's another ten minutes to factor in.  But, beign impatient, I rushed a series of 'test shots' yesterday afternoon (and some more today) as the idea was to be anonymous so the whole make up palava was not needed.

As usual the English summer daylight temperature was warming up and cooling down all the time so most of my white balances were inaccurate even moments after I'd hit the timer and walked 2 metres away and counted to ten.  Even so, it was an enjoyable shoot and a welcome change from using the bedroom upstairs.  I had to keep the door open as the camera was positioned there to give me sufficient distance for framing.  The sounds of the neighbours coming and going, often only a few metres away, was a bit disconcerting (I tried not to make any sounds to attract attention but could occasionally sense eyes peering throu…


The end of my house has a shed built on, which I've used to store my trail bike, various junk and old furniture for years.  I sort of have a half-formed plan to live in it one day, after selling the rest of the house.  Today I finally started to clear it - largely motivated by another half-formed plan, which is to use it as a 'studio' space for a dressing up shoot.  The plaster walls are in pretty poor shape and that deteriorated quality appeals.  It has a concrete floor, quite marked from oil and grease.  So all in all it's kinda shabby and ugly.  That 'failure' to be 'in order' of that space may add something to my attempts at transforming myself into someone feminine.

It was a good source of motivation, two birds and all that.

Being 'it'

Diane Arbus used to refer to the transevestites she photographed as 'it' in her letters to friends.  Anyone who thinks she was being 'inclusive' in her work is mistaken, she was totally exploitative - but produced some of the greatest imagery ever, in any medium, full of pathos and anguish, human qualities as important to understand as any other.

There's a programme on BBC starting in an hour about a sixteen year old whose ambition is to be a drag queen.  I notice on the listings website I use that negative remarks are appearing already and voting on the show is dropping fast - before it's even been broadcast.  The lastest comment simply says; ' disgusting - why are we not giving these things electric shocks?'

Further info here: 

Just finished watching the show.  The point at the end where he acknowledged that his own prejudices about people (their being unaccepting) was no better than any other kind of narrow mi…

Route A46 Revisited


Despite the forecasts of persistant rain - which were quite accurate - I was feeling restless and needed to be taking pictures rather than stay in another day browsing eBay for girl things.  So today consisted of a six hours and a sixty miles round trip to the massive A46 dual carriageway site.  Sundays are the only practicable day of the week to have a crack at these places when they are (almost) desterted - but I was still edgy about the security prescence.  But I was determined to get over there - feel the fear and do it anyway - and managed to explore a couple of miles of it in the drizzle.

I'm impressed that the two digital cameras kept going despite constantly getting rain on them - which I was mopping off the bodies and lenses with tissues and t-shirt.  They looked a state by the finish and cleaning the lens surfaces was a nightmare when I got back and warmed up.  The little W380 lens is looking pretty unhappy now : (

While there I found shelter in a drainage pipe and under…

Lise Safarti

I saw her portraits somewhere a few years ago and thought they were OK - but looking at them now they resonate so much I feel an adrenaline rush.

Disturbing feminine

Tanyth Berkeley is too good at showing femininity gone wrong.  Those deficiencies she seeks out are all to familiar to me from my own attempts at being something I'm not.


Dress 14

Top 14 then Dress 14 - with those search terms it's easy to spend half a day on eBay and feel completely worn out - and either with nothing to show for it or some immediately regretted impulse buy (like the tacky maid outfit I won last Saturday).  This pink item looks cheap but swishy and I might have to keep an eye on it.  I'm still bugged by two amazing dresses that I missed a couple of weekends ago that went really cheap - but I was working on my bike and missed the end times.

Cindy Sherman cache

I'm just taking a break from clearing up the mess of clothes on the floor upstairs from the last dressing up shoot I did - from two or three weeks ago.  I needed encouragement and found it: the Skarsted gallery (and publisher of the Centerfolds series) has a fab set of Sherman images on their website, well worth a look.

Cindy Sherman, Untitled #129, 1983
Color photograph
43 1/4 x 31 3/4 inches (109.9 x 80.6 cm)

What if -

A couple of months ago I downloaded a free DTP programme and tried some page layouts mixing dressing-up shots with landscapes.  I sent this to a few online and print publishers and heard nothing - until this morning.  A broadsheet-size publication by a small photo-collective based in London - Uncertain States - may (or may not) be thinking of including me in an issue of their quarterly publication.  I'm not sure as the picture editor's email had no text just a couple of layouts with my photos in.  So, I'll believe it when I see it but the issue I picked up while at the Format festival in Derby earlier this year was impressive and I've still got a big print from it framed on my wall.

Quantity vs -

Managed to sort my brakes enough to get the DT125R back on the road today (very old, tatty trail bike).  Similar cloudy/sunny conditions to last time I went to Lincoln Castings demolition site.  I didn't take a chance with sunburn today and put on  suncream and brought a long sleeved white shirt to put on when I got there.  I ended up snifling a lot while there due to an allergic reaction, not to the various corrosive and toxic chemicals that taint the site - but to the suncream on my face.  Damn.

First thing that struck me was how the frontage buildings were now reduced to rubble, in fact there was very little left standing and I occasionally saw some debris that had previously been intact, which felt oddly sad in some existential way.  Sneaked in through a part of the fence round the back of the site, up a steep bank full of nettles.  On the ride over I was wondering what 'normal' people are doing on a sunny Sunday in July - shopping, socialising, going to eat somewhere,…

Textural text

Remembered to take shots of bits of text today - the idea being to lift fonts and styles and incorporate words into 'dressed-up as a girl' shots.  Tried some month or two ago but just been taking pictures since then and never got back to it.  Yet.

Small sensor cameras

After breakfast I walked down to the demolition/building site at the bottom of the road. I never expect to be given permission to take photographs (health and safety, fear of theft, general paranoia and negativity) but again got a yes today.  Although I had to stay out of the demoltion area which included the factory where asbestos is being stripped out from.  Damn.

Still for a couple of hours I got to shoot rubble and stuff.  The clay was sticking to my boots and trousers after the heavy rain we had yesterday.  I liked the rain on the new house foundations and the lettering on packs of bricks and vehicles.

I don't liked editing anymore.  It's the fear of realising that all this 'purpose' is in fact meaningless. So here is frame number one from today, I've not looked at any others and am just backing them up to external hard drives (I use two nowadays and have stopped burning to DVDs).  The small sensor W380, like any other small sensor camera, offers massive depth…

Bit of skirt

Cy Twombly

Yeah, like a lot of other people have said, he was one of the most important painters ever and his influence won't fade easily.

(Surface of a wall in a pumping station being demolished - June 2011)

Another kind of envy

The idea of penis-envy in girls is well known, is there any such concept for the other way around?

When I was probably 13 years old I remember having a look through my mum's mail -order catalogue one evening when no one was around - and I was suddenly not quite so preoccupied looking at the bicycles or typewriters - there was a section on clothing which included women's underwear, corsets and lingerie I needed to check out.

I don't think I was especially aroused by those images at that time, though I probably had some level of sexual curiosity that made me need to look (I think I was a late developer, I didn't look at porn or learn to wank till in my 20s).  It's only come back to me recently that I did have a deep sense of jealousy aware for the first time of the difference - that women obviously had a more streamlined look to me - as they were missing a penis.  That curve, that smooth, unobstructed shape, I so wished I was like that, too.

Prior to the earthquake s…

Supermodels' pay

This week off work has been shattering - with the bike brakes overhaul (gone wrong) and TWO fashion shoots.

After breakfast I went to the supermarket and picked up some 15 denier gloss tights with a slight warm tint (called sunkissed or sunblessed or somesuch - they are amazing : )  Someone at work wears these sort and they make her legs look great.  So, any help I can get I'm taking it.  On the way out I saw a transgender male to female, looking fab, only the slightly over-dainty walk giving a clue at the change in gender presenting.  I smiled and tried to catch her eye to say 'hi' (not sure what after that as it's not quite a successful compliment to say 'you look great' when it's evident you know they are not actually a genetic female - which is a reminder of failure to be entirely convincing).  But, as I would be in her place, she was aware of the danger of eye contact with passing strangers and hurried on by to do her shopping.

Home and SIX HOURS strai…