Tag Archives: photojournalism

K111 Kronsgaard, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany – road signs

March 2012

This page is a placeholder: I originally created a blog posting on another blog with these images, but have stopped using that blog and the images now have a gallery page of their own here.

The comments below are imported from the old blog.  New comments can be made on the gallery page.

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And now, for something completely different.

A long time ago in a small town in Germany, there lived a shoemaker…

No.  Start again.

Janet Powney

Janet Powney

A long time ago – 15-20 years ago, before I got a life and became an academic and spent more of my free time on photography – I did lots of computer consultancy and related work, especially for small charities and the like.  One of the organisations I did some work for was a wonderful charity called Women Onto Work, which helped disadvantaged women in Edinburgh by providing training to enable them to move into work.

Hazel Smith, former WoW director, updating local councillor, Scottish Parliament candidate, and all-round good guy, Ewan Aitken

Hazel Smith, former WoW director, updating local councillor, Scottish Parliament candidate, and all-round good guy, Ewan Aitken

However, in the last few months, WoW has found itself in serious trouble, with some staff leaving and others being suspended, and all manner of odd shenanigans going on.  This has resulted in courses being cancelled, graduation ceremonies for trainees not taking place, and more.

Sian Bevan hosted the evening with flair!

Sian Bevan hosted the evening with flair!

A group of people, including Dr Janet Powney, a former chair of the WoW board who is a friend of mine, and the former patron (the comedian Susan Morrison: she was ‘de-patronised’ by the current board – just imagine what a comedian can do with that!) are trying to rescue WoW and enable it to resume the work it has carried out in the past.  To this end, they organised a benefit evening at The Stand, one of the premier comedy venues in Edinburgh; these photographs are from that evening.

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Jay Lafferty discusses romance

Jay Lafferty discusses romance

Susan Morrison explaining drunken squirrels (don't ask...)

Susan Morrison explaining drunken squirrels (don't ask...)

Stu and Garry, as police officer and drunken laird...

Stu and Garry, as police officer and drunken laird...

Not photographing everything

I’ve just read a wonderful blog post on B&H’s website on not photographing everything all the time. I think anyone who regularly has a camera with them and is known for doing that – whether they are a pro or an amateur – will be able to relate to this blog posting! I was delighted to find myself able to say “no” recently – just before my office Christmas lunch someone asked if I had my camera with me… and of course I did. But I found an ideal solution: I declined, but gave my camera to a colleague who is also a keen photographer, and very good at capturing portraits. So he used my camera and photographed everyone, whilst I was able to have my Christmas lunch in peace and concentrate on interacting with those around me: I wasn’t a photojournalist covering an event!

And one added benefit came from all this: I now even have photos of myself.  Not that I really like being photographed (I think many photographers feel the same way!), but sometimes it can be quite nice to have some images of myself too.

Event photography: Africa in Edinburgh!

Directors with Jean-Marie Teno

Directors with Jean-Marie Teno

Photographing at my first wedding in May, I found it a very pressured experience, but this last week I’ve been engaging in a different kind of event photography.  Together with my friend Mabel Forsyth I’ve been photographing for the Africa-in-Motion film festival, one of the largest African film festivals outside Africa.  This involves us photographing at selected events (the organisers have not booked us for every one of the myriad events that make up the festival) and ensuring images taken in the evening are available for press use by the next morning.  There is a pressure in doing that, because there are usually a substantial number of images that need to have quick edits performed on them and made ready within hours of the event happening – no 15 months for edits allowed here!!

I have found all this (a kind of photojournalism, I suppose) to have a certain appeal: composition and ‘getting it right first time’ are important here, as is the need to quickly assess an image as 1) good, 2) good enough provided it’s edited a bit, or 3) not good enough/rubbish (hopefully not too many in the third category!), and then thinking about which edits are needed to improve each image.  Having edited more than several hundred images in a couple of nights, I realise that the only edits that I have really been performing are related to cropping, occasional red-eye removal, adjusting/lifting exposure, and noise reduction.  For sorting, editing and exporting large numbers of images very quickly, Adobe’s Lightroom 3 has been simply invaluable: I haven’t needed to open Photoshop once (Photoshop will be used for editing a selection of images for high quality print usage after the Festival, of course).

The reception

The reception

One of the interesting things about my crops that I have noticed is that most of them have automatically become 4×5 crops.  Without consciously realising it, I have made this my default crop size for portraits; I was aware I was doing this (or going with completely square images) for landscapes, but I’ve been shooting just (environmental) portraits these last few days.  The standard 6×4 size that SLRs produce (for historical reasons, it’s the size that 35mm film went with) is too long and thin for me and I generally prefer squarer shapes.  That much I knew.  But after editing over 200 images in one evening, I realised that most of them had ended up in 4×5 format too… an interesting little development on my part, I think.

The festival is still going strong at the time of writing, ending next week with a fashion show – I’m looking forward to that!

There is a gallery of images here from the festival that I’ll occasionally add to as time goes by (especially from the fashion show), but the festival Facebook page and (I think) the website are showing more images, including ones by Mabel – so check out the photographs and if you are nearby, go to some of the excellent events being organised in the festival!

Photojournalism and street portraiture

Yesterday I was listening to a very interesting podcast from the BBC called Every Picture Tells a Story.  The presenter, Razia Iqbal, muses on the ongoing significance of photographs in news reporting.  The programme is sometimes a bit unstructured and doesn’t offer very much that is new to those who engage with these issues anyway, but it is an interesting programme nonetheless, mostly because of the stimulating ways in which she engages with some of the best photojournalists working today.

I’ve also been proof-reading the draft of Bruce Percy’s longest ebook to date, on street portraiture (scroll down this page for details – due to be available at the end of July, hopefully).  It’s a stimulating read, and in terms of method and approach is very consistent with other texts Bruce has written.  Surprising details (to me, at least), such as the rationale for using manual focus instead of autofocus, are logically explained, and the ebook is, as ever, beautifully illustrated with examples of Bruce’s work.

What is interesting to me about these two themes of photojournalism and street portraiture is how similar they are.  All the images discussed in the BBC programme are a kind of street portrait: even in the most dangerous and life-threatening situations that photojournalists find themselves in, I can see a connection to what Bruce is talking about in his ebook.

I’m off to a week-long conference in Barcelona next week, but despite the frenetic programme that such events usually involve, I’m hoping very much to be able to capture some of the Barcelona night-life on camera… using Bruce’s ebook as a guide.

Using my photographs for my writing

One of the things I have been involved in for almost 20 years is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  It’s not my conflict, and it’s not my land, but I have been active in this area for a long time.  My academic work is also closely related – more details here.  I don’t want to discuss my involvement in these issues in any great detail here, but one of the things that I have found very satisfying is the linkage I have been able to make between my commentating on the reality of the conflict and my photography, in this Ekklesia essay, for example.  Awareness that I was planning this article also made me seek out particular themes for my photography with a sense of responsibility to the subject, as well as to the putative reader – a kind of very real photojournalism, if you like.

The galleries that are referred to in the article are at present incomplete.  I have not yet had time to develop these sufficiently, but more images will come soon.  I will also post here when they do, since I also have a series of images that form a study on the Apartheid Wall in Bethlehem.

Dorothea Lange

“You put your camera around your neck along with putting on your shoes, and there it is, an appendage of the body that shares your life with you. The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” – Dorothea Lange

Today, in between rushing about from one meeting to the next and writing endless letters and emails (ah, the joys of being back at work!), I’ve also been looking at some of Dorothea Lange’s amazing work, here (click on the slideshow) and here, for example. The quotation above is an ideal I’m always striving for, though I rarely manage to achieve it…