Stardust or Star Rust?


Spending a few days in Provence at the Les Rencontres D’Arles Photographic Festival and distributing a bundle of flyers for my Paris show!

The line-up is a bit too “Photographers Gallery” for me, but out of the 20+ exhibitions I certainly want to see Youngsoo Han, People in a Period of Discovery – b&w shots of the civilian aftermath of the Korean War in the 1950s; Lucien Clergue (a show of more than just his classy nudes); and someone with whom I’ve had dealings. Daile Kaplan. Daile is the Head of Photography at Swann Auction Galleries in New York, and she is showing her Pop Photographica collection – 3-dimensional objects (cushions, furniture, cups...) enhanced with photographic images. Sounds interesting?

One exhibition we will be giving a miss is the headline show, David Bailey's Stardust. I saw it at the NPG in London earlier this year; and though his 60s cut-to-white-background portraits were just brilliant, everything after that was extremely average (and in some cases, poor). For the NPG this was a massive exhibition, taking up the complete ground floor. A shame they couldn’t have just given Bailey one room and used the rest to show the work of other iconic 60s portrait photographers as a comparison.


Has the Role of Film Ended...?


Just visited the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition – last year they had a complete gallery full of photography, including an information notice that said something like, “Photography has always played a big part in the RA Summer Exhibition...” This sign was an insult to photographers, as the previous year the few images that were on show were hung, literally, on the back of a panel screening the exit door!

So this year was to be no surprise: out of 1,250 artworks on show, I would think maybe only 15–20 were photographs!

My entry for this years Summer exhibition was not in fact a photograph – even though it was made up from 35mm film. The work (nearly a metre square) has the words “Has the role of film ended?” – the letters being made up of small rolls of 35mm film. As a darkroom photographer, I was indeed making a statement – a statement that obviously went right over the heads of the judges (who, no doubt, were sculptors/printmakers/artistes etc.) as I didn't even get past the first round!

An artist friend of mine describes the whole RA Summer exhibition thing as a “cash cow”. At £25 per submission, and a limit of (only!) 12,000 entries from the public, I think I agree!

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In the Footsteps of Doisneau...


Spent some time reading my Robert Doisneau book about his experiences photographing the Passages from 1975–1980. He said:

“In this aquarium of light, all of these people were preserved as if under glass ...”  and “The magical side of things is invisible for people who are in a hurry, more interested in mechanical things.”

My aim is to capture the ‘magical side of things’ in the Passages, albeit in the 21st century. There is too much to look at for me to be in a hurry – using my 1979 camera!

To think that I bought my Nikon FE that I still use, when Doisneau was shooting his project.

Hotel Chopin, Passage Jouffroy . Robert Doisneau, 1976.

Hotel Chopin, Passage Jouffroy. Robert Doisneau, 1976.

Real Photography...


Reviewed some of my prints and decided to print two of the best at 20 x 16ins – the largest I can in my darkroom. From a 35mm neg they have enlarged beautifully, though of course all my enlarging notes from the smaller prints were useless. However, that's the joy of film and darkroom. It is REAL PHOTOGRAPHY!

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