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Showing posts from October, 2011

Yes and No

Big news of the day belongs to someone else - yay!

I had planned to do a little 20 page blurb book today but after half an hour attempting to edit shots last night I gave up.  Still virus-y but the weather was mild so I grabbed cameras and motorbiked out of town.  There is a massive development about five miles away but the security guard, ignorance personified, said 'No', just that.  Saying 'no' is fine, but like most things in life, there's more than one way to do it.  I think it bugged him that I shot around the perimeter fence but there was nothing he could do about that.  The site has cleared a lot of trees since I was last there and in the far distance I can see heavy plant so there is a massive obliteration of greenfield land happening.  Once gone it ain't ever coming back.

I took a few dozen frames then biked off to the foundry site that was demolished and cleared in the summer, I've been curious if building had begun yet and what it looked like, th…

Spilled milk

I'm my third day into a cold virus.  Bad timing as I was keen to scoot around all the local big supermarkets in the area today to photograph their value brand range products.  The need to go take those photos proved stronger than the ill feeling, although there was no pleasure in any of the four hours of it.  I'd googled supermarket busy hours and yes, weekends are the worst. I try to avoid getting in anyone's way but today I must have looked pretty rough - and infectious - that people kept their distance anyway.

Something I did start to appreciate today with what appeals to me, is when items have been dislodged or else there is some incongruity - damaged packaging, expensive brand products dumped in amongst the cheapo foodstuffs when someone has gone for the saving.  Also the sculptural aspect to the way objects can sit on a shelf and their relationship to each other.

Outside Sainsburys it looked like someone else was having a pretty lousy day, too.

TESCO Value Range Products

While at work I was looking forward all afternoon to taking some photos later at Tesco.  It's hard to explain why.  There weren't many people shopping so I could frame and shoot with a little more time than if I felt I was getting in someone's way or was being too conspicuous and security would show up asking questions I might not be able to answer, or want to.  I'd just scroll through the shots and let them decide if there's a problem - and with some people there will be a problem.  In a way taking a photograph of an item for sale does seem in some odd way to be taking it.

MORRISONS Value Range Products

I fuelled up on the half dozen leftover toffees in the tin at work and went to Morrisons supermarket to take some more shots of their Value range of products. There were not too many people around but I was still self-conscious - and sticking to base ISO 80 there are camera shake issues, instead of chroma noise. But the camera is so small at least it is less conspicuous, whereas a bigger camera would attract attention, if not security. I'll try to get to the other big supermarkets in the next weekend. I've been listening to some podcasts on the Professional Photographer website which are amusing and largely about 'art' photography rather than kit and marketing, which is a surprise. In one discussion it was mentioned that often young photography students do a project in a few hours and that's the extent of their effort. And often never leave the house to do it. I remember feeling put out when studying photography that we were expected to go back (repeatedly) t…

Hair fray

Even with plenty of conditioner sometimes hair just won't co-operate:


I've been mending stuff this weekend - and like working on the bike in the summer it pulls me out of shape psychologically.  A longing to be feminine becomes intense, almost as a reaction to anything typically 'male' (although these days it's more likely to be a woman mending something around the house than a man). I am starting to interpret this as a deepening identification with my female side.  Although I can keep plugging away at dirty, greasy, sweaty jobs there is an inner recoil to the other sense of self, which I'd never even acknowledged ten years ago but which now seems to be where my sense of self resides.

I thought I'd do a photoshoot - when really all I really wanted was to have a bath, wash my hair, and dress up.  So it wasn't much fun and felt more like 'work' - but not unpleasant : )

I didn't have any ideas and I started quite late in the afternoon so the light was failing.  I tried again with the idea of hiding partly silhouetted…

Frame choosing

Being indecisive means postponing even trivial decisions like foreverrr.  Rrrr.  Well at least as long as possible.  Ble.

Today though I sort of made an impulse buy - and it only took a mere 25 minutes prevarication.  I'd gone to get some hardware supplies but the shop also stocked homewares like picture frames.  If the editors at Uncertain States manage to finalise an exhibition space in a coffee shop in Highgate, North London before Christmas (as is/was their plan) I might get the opportunity to put up a few prints.  So, I might need frames.  I don't know if my own frames would be needed or not but I have been thinking I might need to be prepared and source them in readiness.  And frames say a lot.  Cue indecision.  Ish.

BUT, amazing for me, I did make a decision - largely influenced by the store's returns policy which means I get 28 days to change my mind - that was decisive to help with my indecisiveness so well done their marketing department.  The frames are silver a…

Perfect date

This elegant, swishy dress is such a delight to wear and I associate it with a fantasy of being on a date (and from the 'traditional' female perspective rather than the male).  It's a surprise to find that in a dress like this I sort of feel attractive - at least in my own imagination and in a low res file.  It's the glamour of the dress. 

Ethical minefield

There is a tradition in 'issue' photography where sterotypes are challenged by presenting those sterotypes and, presumedly, deriding them in the process.  I've not really been tempted to go there as it seems to me it's just re-iterating those prejudiced views rather than effectively deconstructing them.  So, a worthy effort at best.  I've tried to avoid presenting any transvestite cliches - and usually feel worried if I slide into implying anything more than just a positive experience of being able to express myself, finding a liberation albeit in an empty room via the acknowledgment of a lens and sensor.  It's a digital conduit to the outside world while being able at some level to manage the experience.

There are some camp tranny fave looks that are hard to resist not at least trying out, though. For me, so far, they are the bride in a white wedding dress, the slut, the maid and today, some kind of schoolgirl/young womanin her first job kind thing.  (One day …

Sophie Calle / Cindy Sherman

Wearing a watch

On October 17th I always book the day off work. Years and years go by but it was some kind of resolution I made back at the beginning, a kind of apology in some respects but also an acknowledgement. It's a grave, there is no-one there - but even when it seems possibly a pointless gesture ALWAYS something happens there. This year I walked in to the cemetery through a different gate and came across a place where there were trees decorated with windchimes and streamers and there were balloons and toys by the graves - for babies and infants.

Then after putting flowers on my mum's grave I sat and watched in the very far distance two small birds playing together in the grey, billowing sky. It wasn't terriorial or competition over a beakful of food, there was a sense of delight, following, returning, lovingness. It was extraordinary, life-affirming. Some of the most important things cost nothing.

At the graveside I wasn't expecting any meaningful connection, what can th…

Books of photos

I buy photobooks and flick through them for twenty seconds when I get them and then put them on a shelf never to open them again.  Despite this I keep buying more.  Today's purchases are Ed Ruscha 'Photographs' and Cindy Sherman 'Centerfolds'.  Like buying music that I liked when I was a teenager or in my twenties - 'Old Music' - this is 'Old Photography' and I'm always a bit annoyed with myself that I don't 'move on'. 

The prospect of a 440 page Sophie Calle book is perhaps a move in the right direction. Her compulsive nature - which she describes as 'rigorous' - and her sensuality are qualities that intrigue me and that I feel re-assured by. Her diptych here with the bed is almost fetishistic, both of the objects and in the act of photographing. She was dumped by a lover by email and did a later piece about the pain of rejection. I wonder if this image was at the start of that affair, the miraculous emanating from the b…

Old New Topographics

Online I just came across the work of a Topographics-style US photographer Ray Mortenson, whose name vaguely rings a bell but I've can't remember actually seeing his photographs before - or if I did I just plain forgot.

'Meadowlands' was a series he made in the early 80's at an industrial site.

There is a terrific description on the DLKCollection website:

Comments/Context: I'll bet if you did a quick study of the visitors to Ray Mortenson's new show, a decent percentage would exhibit the following behavior: drift in, scan the walls in one continuous circular movement (like being on a moving walkway), and then exit without registering much more than a cursory summary: big pictures of middle grey garbage. The reason I think this is happening is that these images defy a quick ADD reading, and only reveal themselves after slow, elemental looking, when this unruly mess of hard, dirty ugliness is quietly transformed into something astoundingly beautiful.

Exposure Value

The photographs today were taken facing the window with no fill light to compensate so I would be mostly just a silouhette, a shape.  It would offer a kind of anonymity while at the same time facing the camera.  With an APS sensor this is just about OK as the shadow detail does not deteriorate too badly. It was a case of constantly adjusting the EV on the camera to vary the amount of compensation, finding the right balance - effectively obsucuring who I am at the same time as being open about who I am - a state of affairs that I think is quite familiar to anyone with an alternative identity that they feel vulnerable about sharing with the world.

Kelli 1-0

Despite the fail with the shopping trip yesterday I'm prepping for a shoot today - well I started last night in fact, sorting my hair.  This morning was a massive ironing session and I've now just set up the room and the camera is in position on the tripod.  This time facing the windows which might look terrible but the silhouette could suggest the key issue of anonymity - which is a fact of life for anyone who transgresses accepted norms of identity.  Fear is a key factor when it comes to 'being oneself' when that self is open to ridicule, consternation or even physical abuse - some of the way social groups even in 'free societies' maintain conformity. 

Kelli Connell has a model to work with, I'd quite like a photographer to work with.  I can think of someone, MM, who has those qualities; not only sympathetic and non-judgemental but  encouraging.  OK, she'd probably get bored after an hour and a half of me changing outfits and stopping to check my mak…

Shopping fail

The prospect of finding in town today a couple of nice tops and maybe a skirt or a dress, accessories - something! - was quite pleasant - but the outcome, almost zilch.  At least I resisted buying things I won't wear.  A pink wool (short skirt & small jacket) business suit I had seen a while back had gone : (
I got a couple of necklaces as consolation. One has small odd shaped buttons in soft purple - it's a colour that has grown on me in the last couple of years.


The Kelli Connell pictures are beautiful and wonderfully executed.  Taking the photographs at the actual location rather than under different lighting conditions helps but it's still problematic as in the time the model takes to change her appearance it will have changed at least a little.  Having two models (twins maybe?) would be far easier - but the series would then have an entirely different meaning.

I had a look for some old shots I made some time ago - combinations of shots taken on location with self-portraits from my front bedroom (sometimes with myself as twin sisters), often taken weeks apart.  The clumsy mis-matched feel to these montages did not bother me, too much.

The industrial buildings in the shots where I have a khaki skirt on were demolished this year.  They were a huge, century old foundary complex that employed thousands at the height of its productivity.  There is not a brick or girder left standing now.  Those old 'masculine' heavy industries have b…

Post-photography: Kelli Connell

A year or two ago I was making images which were a combination of photographs of myself (in a dress etc) inserted into industrial (topographical type) shots. They were a lot of work and not a success in retrospect.  So I am in awe at how seamless - lovely and thought-provoking - are the images from Kelli Conelli where she uses just a single model to then fabricate a totally convincing relationship between two women at the editing stage. They are an extraordinary example of the new and impressive form of photographic unreality.


My lost tree found

I set off to get a bit lost and managed it.  Finding my way back turned out to be more problematic.

The Wolds are in the heart of agricultural Lincolnshire, Tennyson country, he was born and grew up here.  I went looking for a tree to sit under and came quite close to finding the ideal one that lives in my imagination, especially vivid to me in the darkness of winter when sunshine and warm days seem far, far away.

Down winding country lanes and bumpy farm tracks until endlessly lost and setting off on foot till I got to this tree.  It was so peaceful, just the rustling of leaves from the warm breeze.  Something so simple and yet so divine.  No accident Buddha found his moment of enlightenment while sitting under a tree.

Photography as painting

At the BP portrait exhibition held every year at the National Portrait Gallery it's always a bit of disorienting to find that the selected works are predominantly photographic in appearance.  It's not uncommon to see visitors getting up close and inspecting the canvas surface before confirming to their friends 'It's a painting.'  Various key aspects to the 'look' of photography - which is crucially far more 'democratic' to use an expression from Eggleston et al - are appropriated.  It seems faintly odd that to get an image to look like these it would be far easier to actually just use a camera - but then virtuoso technique is required to recreate such effects and the BP show consists mostly of a highly accessible niche of contemporary painting.

It is tempting to use digital photography (particularly those defects due to noise suppression and jpeg artifacting) to step in and start to emulate the 'old' late 19th Century painting style that is …