The British Life Photography Awards: Portfolio 1 is a catalogue book of the winners and finalists of an inaugural event "to capture and share" the perThe British Life Photography Awards: Portfolio 1 is a catalogue book of the winners and finalists of an inaugural event "to capture and share" the perspectives of photographers from all walks of life.
The inspiration for the contest comes from the "amazing democratisation" of photography in the 21st century.
Homer Sykes, a self-described documentary photographer of half a century, provides a foreword, in which he describes the journey of discovery, "getting up before dawn, going to bed too late, being out there, experiencing, learning, thinking on your feet and trying to understand how we live, work and play."
This is complemented by a brief introduction by Caroline Metcalfe, who calls upon photographers in Britain, "Rather than look overseas for potential material, ... stay at home and shoot stories that we know are just waiting to be made."
The judging panel reveals an impressive collection of accomplished photographers, many with work for various travel and lifestyle magazines and newspaper supplements.
And this is the shortcoming of this presented portfolio of work.
The images are all good, But like much of British life itself, it's an eclectic mix of the editorial and the artistic. Many images would easily grace a Condé Nast publication or a Sunday magazine; I don't need to buy a book to discover this talent.
What interested me more were the fewer images that demonstrated some individuality of the photographer, one's own perspective on life in Britain.
Images such as Heather Buckley's "Tea at Birling Gap", with a hatted women's head emerging from a teapot; Linda Wisdom's "Yellow Rain" (one of the best in the volume, in my opinion); Gerard Collett's "Orange, White and Blue", of two identical older women, sitting across from each other, putting on makeup at the same time; and Zoe Barker's "Lazy Days", not an Instagram tilt-shift filter, but authentic 120-format film print.
So while I don't regret acquiring this first edition -- I'd like to learn more about the next contest -- I can't recommend it. The pictures may be pleasing, but the selection incoherent (why so many from a single naked bike ride event?). A more critical slimmer volume of images and/or photographers may have brought more inspiration for the rest of us about to go out to shoot more stories of British life. ...more
I have not studied photography formally, but take solace that many of the 100 photographers featured in this thorough volume of the urban landscape anI have not studied photography formally, but take solace that many of the 100 photographers featured in this thorough volume of the urban landscape and its people have learned their craft from the harsh realities of the street.
Nevertheless I may be utterly under-qualified to provide a meaningful critique of this very considered book, The World Atlas of Street Photography, published by Thames & Hudson.
Author Jackie Higgins has done a masterful job. The structure of the book is geographical, by world region. Each photographer gets a page or two, with a pertinent selection of his or her work.
As one would expect, most images feature people. Some are candid; others are posed. And some photographers concentrate more on the physical environment -- the human influence without the presence of any inhabitants themselves.
What I like is that there's no need to read the book from cover-to-cover. You can peruse the pages and stop and inspect more of what captures your eye. (Perhaps not unlike the behaviour of a practiced street photographer.) The biographical entries are well written and easy to digest.
Max Kozloff sets the global scene in his foreword. I particularly like his statement of how "photographers have reacted with a discursive strategy of their own", including a response to "post-modernist scepticism towards documentary forms".
Because street photography tells stories, of the photographer and the photographed. Some stories are easier to decipher from the images than others, but story telling is one of man's longest-running habits. Long live the documentary style, updated for the 21st century.
And that is my only mild criticism -- there is no modern signposting of any of the photographers. Perhaps these acclaimed artists are beyond Flickr and Tumblr, but I would have appreciated links to at least portfolio websites. There's also no bibliography or further reading section.
Yet The World Atlas of Street Photography should be on any self-respecting street photographer's bookshelf. Jackie Higgins achieves her objective of showcasing illuminating juxtapositions, as she puts it, providing the reader with ample inspiration and insight of a wide variety of techniques and styles.
God can sanctify photography. With a poem by Pope Leo XIII, Colin Ford explains the basis for how Irish Jesuit Frank Browne acquired a camera from hisGod can sanctify photography. With a poem by Pope Leo XIII, Colin Ford explains the basis for how Irish Jesuit Frank Browne acquired a camera from his bishop uncle, at the age of 17, and kept making images throughout his priestly life.
Browne took his camera everywhere. His early trips to Europe were the apparent source of his self-teaching of technique, analysing the works of Masters’ painters in Venice and Florence.
He travelled widely, to the front lines in France and Flanders during World War One (serving as chaplain) and further to Australia (where he went to recuperate after suffering mustard gassing).
Yet I would argue that it is his persistent images of Ireland over the decades, emerging as a new republic, that leaves a significantly valuable legacy. Photos of countryside life are complemented with ones of industrialisation.
Browne is known primarily for photos that he took during the maiden voyage of the Titanic. His first class ticket was only for Southampton-Cherbourg-Cobh (his uncle never intended for him to emigrate to America!). With the sinking of the ship, his precious images were in highest demand by newspapers.
Kodak thanked him by offering a lifelong supply of film. Yet Browne was responsible for developing the film and paying for any prints. Consequently, many of his photos remained unpublished, until Father Edward O’Donnell discovered a large trunk, long after Browne’s death.
Father O’Donnell proceeded to publish a series of Frank Browne photo books, including Frank Browne’s Titanic Album. More recently he has written a full biography in The Life and Lens of Father Browne.
But Frank Browne: A Life through the Lens, by Donald and Edwin Davison and the subject of this review, is a more artistic critique of his best work, copiously illustrated and drawn from his trove of 42,000 images.
In a chapter titled “Father Browne photographer of the twentieth Century”, Donald Davison explains how Father Browne was influenced initially by pictorialism but also with modernism.
Browne was not constrained by any particular photographic style, though reportage-style stands out. Even here, he didn’t always obey the decisive moment – sometimes he would get children and take off their shoes and socks for his more desired, rustic look of the countryside.
One could argue that because Browne did not concentrate on any particular method, he never mastered his craft.
But I don’t believe Father Brown was ever seeking photography perfection; his formal training was spiritual, remember.
Instead, we’ve been blessed with the vision of a man who understood tone and mood, natural and human, who recorded the matter of life wherever he found himself.
I highly recommend Frank Browne: A Life through the Lens, by Donald and Edwin Davison, for its approach to the subject from a photographer’s perspective....more
I had the pleasure of meeting Neil O'Brien at a NI Biz Camp event in Belfast, April 2013. I immediately liked his sense of humour: "Sending me to a reI had the pleasure of meeting Neil O'Brien at a NI Biz Camp event in Belfast, April 2013. I immediately liked his sense of humour: "Sending me to a relaxation course is stressing me out!"
Yet behind his Irish wit is a concise, distilled lesson plan of proven suggestions to motivate yourself to the next level.
Essentially, each of us has a comfort zone. Tricky thing is, if you decide just to stay in it, it'll keep getting smaller as the world moves on. Neil has some strategies to help you act outside your comfort zone.
His book, Time to Fly, is an easy-to-read digest filled with methods, exercise plans, summaries and encouragement, all sprinkled with signature humour.
What I particularly liked is that I am able to remember some key points. Reference points, if you will, that'll keep you closer to 10/10 on the self-worth scale, and away from the 2/10.
Time to Fly really is inspiration in a nutshell (to cite another reviewer). Be good to yourself -- get Neil's book!...more