Monday, 31 October 2011

Homage to Robert Frank

It's impossible to do a road trip project on the US without Robert Frank being in our thoughts. The Americans has played an important role as part of our photographic education, and continues to be the yardstick for the photography book.
In Eureka, we managed to pickup an original copy of New York to Nova Scotia,  the timely aspect of seeing the book and it's relevance to us now,  is very fitting.
The book is mostly letters and essays through Franks career and is a perfect companion. His images are already in our minds, and in many ways we are paying visual homage to a man who defined the medium of the photography book to speak about a Nation

Here's an interview Frank did with  Sean O' Hagan in the  Guardian  2004

Robert Frank

Monday, 24 October 2011

Hereford Photography Festival, UK

Vanessa is exhibiting some of the Georgian portraits from "Seeds carried by the Wind" and George is showing 3 series of sequences from "The shadow of the Bear".
I've never exhibited the sequences before so it's a shame we will miss the exhibition. If anyone goes, would love to hear impressions. 
Below is a statement by the curator, Simon Bainbridge.

Time & Motion Studies: New documentary photography beyond the decisive moment

Curated by Simon Bainbridge
Saturday 22nd October – Saturday 26th November
Tuesday to Friday 10am – 5pm; Saturday 10am – 4pm
Hereford Museum & Art Gallery, Broad Street, Hereford, HR4 9AU

Vanessa Winship: Georgia, 2009-10
Time & Motion Studies presents the works of five photographers, each the result of deliberate and sustained observation. But more than that, each employs a carefully thought-out strategy for their study, a methodology by which to transcribe and communicate ideas about the world, tackling subjects that aren’t always obviously photogenic. For the photographers in the exhibition, the ideas they are trying to communicate take prescience over aesthetic concerns, although these remain important, both in terms of engaging viewers and in contributing to the development of a wider photographic language.
The festival gives me an opportunity to show these works, five excellent examples of the diversity of contemporary documentary practice, and all of which have appeared in British Journal of Photograph, some in the recent past, which I hope the photography crowd will enjoy seeing in the flesh, some of it exhibited for the first time anywhere. But the festival attracts a wider public than just the photography crowd, particularly at the Hereford Museum & Art Gallery, and for these visitors I hope to give a flavour of what photography can be and what it can say, beyond the traditional idea of the artist photographer as someone wandering the earth communing with nature. And by showing five very different approaches, I hope to expose the photographers behind the images, to get viewers thinking about how they position themselves – both physically, embedding themselves into situations, and in terms of negotiating themselves into spaces – to make their pictures.

Donald Weber Interrogations: Big Zone, Small Zone
In the case of Donald Weber, that’s a very uncomfortable space. Having befriended a Ukrainian policeman whose career was on the rise, he spent years negotiating access to the interrogation room the officer spent much of his time, gaining confessions from mostly petty criminals. Waiting for the moment of confession, the results are a terrifying insight into the justice system, but also, a defining point of departure for the subjects – a cathartic experience sometimes – after which life may never be the same again.
Robbie Cooper exemplifies the increasing convergence between still and moving images, using the first digital camera that truly delivers both, in high resolution. Technology is also at the heart of his subject matter, which is concerned with how our identities are becoming wrapped up in new virtual territories – in this case, capturing animated faces close up through as his subjects engage with computer games and other screen-based worlds. Manuel Vasquez also touches on technology, particularly surveillance culture, in his montages that splice together different moments in time. Captured in largely anonymous public places, they capture the anxiety as well as a sense of spectacle within the spotlight of this constant observation.
Manuel Vasquez: Traces
Robbie Cooper Immersion

 George Georgiou is also working with sequential imagery. He is interested in the continued influence Russia plays on its former Soviet neighbours, and how this is manifested in the daily lives of ordinary people, capturing them in sequences shot from the same vantage point. His installation at this year’s festival is his most ambitious realisation of this approach, and is the first time he has presented a work on such a scale. His partner and travelling companion Vanessa Winship takes an altogether different approach. Where as Georgiou remains largely hidden to his subjects, she places her camera in such a way as to invite her subjects to present themselves. She seeks a direct connection, and somehow manages to capture the complexity of this dialogue in the directness and vulnerability of their gazes. Putting them together in the same show, I aim to demonstrate that a photograph is not so much the result of what’s in front of the camera, rather than the motives, instincts and ideas of the person behind it.
Shadow waiting, Ukraine
Time & Motion Studies also refers to this year’s festival theme of motion, a concept I struggled with at first (after all, photography is all about distilling moments into single frames), until I thought about this idea of the photographer waiting, quiet and still, capturing what before his or her camera. It also got me thinking about one of the most enduring concepts in photography, now nearly 60 years old – “The Decisive Moment”, as termed by Henri Cartier-Bresson. In it’s most simple form, the idea was that every image of a “stolen moment” had it’s own decisive moment, a split-second capture in which “simultaneously and instantaneously the recognition of a fact and the rigorous organisation of visually perceived forms [expressed and signified] that fact”.
It’s not a very fashionable concept anymore (especially when you think about the Becher School photographers who have dominated in the past 25 years, with their monumental images, largely of scenes that denote no single important moment of time). But a sense of the right moment pervades in photography nonetheless, along with photography’s pictorial visual language. Cooper has to decide where to pull the stills from his motion, Weber looks for a moment of confession, and even Georgiou, who presents multiple takes on a time and place, edits from hundreds more moments.
The Decisive Moment was a product of a particular time, when newspapers and magazines were the primary outlet for photographers’ work, a medium through which they could speak to hundreds of thousands of readers. And up until relatively recently that remained the case for anyone with documentary concerns; photographers making their names on smaller titles before hopefully working their way up to bigger commissions on bigger and more prestigious publications.
But there are no big commissions these days, and few photographers can earn a proper living making interesting work for newspapers and magazines anymore. There simply isn’t the budget; a situation that would seem to point to more straightened times, were it for the fact that they are still prepared to pay huge sums for images of celebrity. You can blame it on dumbing down, or the deep conservatism of publishers, or the internet, which has helped drive down the price of professional photography to unsustainable levels through the digital distribution of cheap images.
For photographers the end of print is a reality, at least regards to newspapers and magazines. (On the festival’s opening weekend, Self Publish Be Happy will present a flourishing counter-trend, showcasing the work of independent book publishers who still find vital express in printed matter.) But these publications never really gave them real freedoms to express their points of view, and in their absence, photographers are searching for news ways to communicate with audiences, free from the editorial confines of newspaper dictat.
Although they operate in uncertain times, these five photographers present us with clear and articulate takes on the world. And if such different voices and approaches can sit side-by-side so easily, isn’t that a sign that photography is maturing, rather than a medium in peril?
Simon Bainbridge

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Slow Start

This has got to be the slowest start I have made to a project.
I feel this is down to a number of factors.
The downtown areas of middle and small towns are so empty of people, people love their cars and everything is so spaced out. It seems like everything is based around driving from one shopping mall to another, drive through coffee, drive through food.  I knew this would be an important part of the project but it wasn't something I wanted to focus on early.
The continuous sunshine since we have been on the road limits me, it's not the kind of light I like to work in, although I will have to find it's secret because for sure I will encounter it often.
Also because of the size of the country, even by just focusing on the Western States, we are maybe trying to stop in too many places, without spending enough time in any. We will now limit the number of places we will stay in, so we can spend a little bit more time in each. 

Although I am not worried about any this, as there are many things to observe, absorb and understand, and slowly little seeds are coming to the fore.
Eugene, Oregon
Eugene, Oregon
Eureka, California

Friday, 21 October 2011

The New Yorker Photo Booth

The view from The New Yorker’s photo department.

OCTOBER 21, 2011
Posted by James Pomerantz
Everybody makes mistakes; some people make beautiful ones.
 She shares the story of her favorite accidental photograph for our inaugural Great Mistakes post.

In a way, I don’t believe in accidents. But for certain, the image in question was not originally intended this way. I’d made several portraits of boxers, and had to get to this small dance company before I ran out of daylight. I work with a large-format field camera. This kind of working method requires a very specific level of concentration and, I suppose, discipline. You have to remember to turn the slide from white to black after you’ve exposed each frame. I’ve gotten quite good at this. In fact the whole process and procedure has its own internal rhythm and musicality to it:open the lens, look, focus, make a light reading, set the aperture, set the shutter speed, close the lens, cock the shutter, place the film holder into position, pull out the dark-slide, wait … expose the film, turn the dark-slide around to indicate exposed, return it into the film holder, finish.
I set up my camera and asked the first dancer to stand for me. Then I made a few more photos. I was rushed because of the disappearing light, but nevertheless this fading light and necessary long exposure was adding something. I was taken by it. In my stomach, I felt I had a picture. What I hadn’t realized was that one of the film holders I used during this session had exposed film from earlier in the day, and I had created this double exposure … two images on one frame. The magic of the image is the perfect relationship between the two and the way it appears that they are holding hands but at the same time partly disappearing. For me, this image encapsulates something about this place--dancers and fighters at the same time, a kind of romance of the Georgian psyche that is somehow inevitably unsustainable.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Giant Redwoods, Northern California

We have been staying in Eureka and Arcata these last 2 days and using it as a jumping off point for Vanessa to make some portraits of the gaint Redwood trees, the tallest living things in the world, some of them 2000 years old.

I hadn't imagined ever seeing trees so magnificent...the first time I saw them the light was fading, it somehow added to their mystery.
The thought of them standing there for so many years fills me with real joy, the kind of joy that makes me want to  touch them just for a second...vw

Monday, 17 October 2011

Redding, California

God, Country and Family. Redding, Califoria.
From Yuba City we drive slowly to Redding, setting the GPS to avoid the freeway as much as possible.
As we drive into town, the shopping malls alongside the freeways seem to be busy and we arrive in Redding around 4pm and decide to take a walk around downtown. Hardly a soul in sight apart from a few homeless people and a few people buying takeaways.
We met a guy who asked for some change, we started talking and he turned out to be a white racist. Having spent 10 years in Prison, he was proud of his tattoos, showing us this one on his back, inscribed "God, Country, Family". His dream was to ride a horse through Ireland.

When we got back to the motel we found out that Redding had a infamous double murder in 1999.
Gary Matson and Winfield Mowder were a gay couple who were murdered by white supremacist brothers Benjamin Matthew Williams and James Tyler Williams. The Williams brothers confessed killing the couple because they were gay.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Reno and Yuba City, Pic of the day

It's a little strange to start our trip in Reno.
The downtown area has a few big casinos that are all interlinked by walkways, so you don't need to move around outside. The clients are fairly elderly and mainly working class. It's very depressing seeing them glued to slot machines losing money they can ill afford.
Apart from one area that's poor and rundown, most of the town is made up of shopping malls and suburban housing.
Peppermill hotel and casino, Reno.
 From Reno, we decided to head back into California and stopped in Yuba.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Reno, Picture of the day

Our road trip has finally started, first stop Reno. Our first day in Reno was 82 f or 32C and a full day of sun, not what we were expecting or hoping for in the middle of October. It means an alarm call at 6am tomorrow morning.


Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Pier 24 Gallery

Todd Hido invited us to go with his class to Pier 24 Gallery, in San Francisco to see the exhibition "Here". This exhibition presents a selection of works produced by Bay Area photographers as well as a range of images of San Francisco, with an emphasis on the late-twentieth century. HERE. highlights the vibrancy of San Francisco and the surrounding areas through the work of 34 photographers and over 700 images.
The gallery is huge and the exhibition was one of the best photography exhibitions we have seen in a long time. All the work was truly inspiring, beautifully curated and presented. Here is a selection of some of those on show, would have like to have put them all up but takes to much time.
Lewis Baltz
©Leon Borenszstein

 We didn't know the work of Leon Borensztein before this exhibition. Amazing Portraits, looking forward to seeing his new book, Leon Borensztein: American Portraits 1979-1989 published by Nazraeli Press which is due out any day soon.
© Jim Goldberg
© Todd Hido from Homes at Night.

© Richard Misrach

 We've never seen this early work by Richard Misrach. Mostly portraits around Telegraph Ave in Berkeley.  An interview with Aaron Schuman in Seasaw magazine.
We also went to an opening in Berkeley of his exhibition  1991: Oakland-Berkeley Fire Aftermath, which he has only just released, 20 years after the event! Interview with some of the images here, well worth a look.
SF Police department.
   © Larry Sultan,  from the Homeland series, a series he had just completed before he passed away.

© Anthony Hernandez
© Anthony Hernandez
Anthony Hernandez  article here and a slideshow of one of his books, Waiting, Sitting, Fishing and some Automobiles.
© Henry Wessel
© Henry Wessel
© Henry Wessel

Henry Wessel. Capturing one of Honolulu’s most famous neighbourhoods, Waikiki Henry Wessels Waikiki Book is the photography book by Henry Wessel.  A video here.

Bill Owens an early influence

Today we took a drive around the San Francisco Bay area, starting in Oakland, heading south and up north to San Francisco. Miles and miles of Suburbia. When we got to San Jose, we went past the San Jose Museum of Art and noticed a poster advertising a Bill Owens exhibition. Seeing the exhibition was an unexpected treat.
©Bill Owens    

Bill Owens statement about this work and the American dream.

3 articles about Suburbia  and Bill Owens can be found on the excellent American Suburb X, here, here and here

Bill Owens was one of my earliest influences, I used to spend hours at the college library looking at his book, Suburbia. I really felt a strong infinity with his work, it touched my own alienation with being bought up in the London Suburbs, as well as my own relationship to my extended family.
The following 2 images are part of my first real photography project, I was around 21 years old at the time and this was the time I knew I wanted to be a photographer.

©George Georgiou
©George Georgiou


Sunday, 9 October 2011

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Oakland, California. Picture of the day

Cemetery, Oakland, USA

Black Sea at Fotoleggendo, Rome

I'm showing the Black Sea in Rome at this years Fotoleggendo festival 
Amongst other exhibitors are Donald Weber's Interrogations,  Alessandro Penso and Michele Palazzo's Migrant Workers.
Alessandro Penso and Michele Palazzo

Donald Weber'

Also take a look at Little Big Press who have a show of some of their publications.

 Donald Weber, George and Myself will be showing our work together again at the Photography festival in Hereford in a couple of weeks, more on that later.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Talk at California College of Arts

Today we did a presentation at the California College of Arts in Oakland and had an informal chat with the students.

Looking at Vanessa's Georgia book dummy.

We were invited by photographer, Jim Goldberg, a professor at the college and this years Deutsche Borse winner with Open See, a project he completed when he received the Henri Cartier Bresson award in 2007. You can see more of his images here and a Guardian review of Open See.
Also on the staff at the college is  Todd Hido,  a photographer Vanessa has had some email correspondence with these last 2 years. Todd is the author of a number of beautiful books. He also has a huge library of photobooks, which he has promised to show us, hopefully we will have time to see them.
©Todd Hido

©Jim Goldberg