The Financial Circus

I saw this photo on several sites, unaccredited. It shows clowns ringing the opening bell on Wall Street. In the current financial climate that is perhaps uncomfortably appropriate.

Clowns look like fools but they know exactly what they are doing. The same could be said for those in charge of the world's money. Don't let the current meltdown fool you, it was no accident I am sure....

Tichy

Miroslav Tichy's Camera No.1 © Roman Buxbaum


Don't let anyone tell you you need the Canon 5D MkII to take pictures. You can cobble one together from kitchen rubbish and in fifty years you'll have your work exhibited in some of the world's most prestigious galleries. Seriously though, Tichy proves you don't need the latest gadgets to make photographic art. In fact, sometimes it helps to ignore conventions and technical aspects altogether.

If you like Tichy's photographs, you might also want to check out Sigmar Polke, though you might have to visit an art gallery or library to properly view and appreciate his work.

Red Custom Cameras

If you have several tens of thousands of dollars, here's an interesting camera system that you'll be able to get your hands on over the next couple of years.

Check out the range of sensor sizes available (for starters)



And you can also swap around the lens mounts. And pretty much everything else as well. I imagine if you are a commercial shooter with a studio this system might be causing you to drool.

Oh, and the do full HD digital video and 3D components as well.

Thanks to Richard for letting us know about this one.

In The Times

A bit of shameless (self) promotion:

Here are two stories from today's New York Times, one of which I had the joy of shooting. The other was photographed by my friend and colleague Liz Rubincam.




Slideshows for both stories can be seen here and here.

The President is not black



My dad sent me this photograph today. My only hope is that Obama will actually be the mirror opposite of Bush as this picture might suggest.

I also got sent this article on the fact that Obama is not black, but of mixed descent, which I believe is an important distinction and have mentioned before. In fact, I think that it does a disservice to Obama's heritage to label him as something he is not. Surely his parent's inter-racial relationship is something to be admired considering the social climate of the time when it began.

What has this got to do with photography? Well, photography deals with appearance, and it often very easy for people and situations to be mis-represented because of how they appear. Just as it is the responsibility of people to accuratly observe Obama's heritage, so it is the responsibility of photographers to do their best to accuratley portray the people and the places they photograph. I do not subscribe to the notion of the infallible veracity of photographs, but they are a form of truth and their power to persuade should not be underestimated.



1914-1918


90 years ago today marked the end of the First World War 1914-1918.

It was known as 'the war to end all wars'.

It is still sometimes called 'The great war'.

Two of my favourite artists - poet Wilfred Owen and painter Otto Dix produced work influenced by their experiences of this war that is as powerful today as it was back then.

It was one of the first periods in history that I seriously studied.

The saddest thing about this war is that it was not the last.

See more photographs from the time here. Some pictures from today can be found here.

Why do we do this?

This is an excerpt from a blog post over at Politics Theory & Photography. In my opinion, this particular passage concisely and accurately sums up one of the major challenges facing anyone engaged in activity to progress a cause (which includes photographers); that of what good their work is actually for.

...any plausible remedy to a major (or even not-so-major) public problem requires not just individual "awareness," but concerted, coordinated action. And that action must aim to remedy general patterns. Even if one were to insist that public awareness is a first step, it would be important to establish how - by what mechanisms - that public awareness could be coordinated into action or even support for action. All this is a political problem - one of constituting a 'we' out of the vast distribution of individual awareness. As political theorists as diverse as John Dewey and Michel Foucault and Hannah Arendt remind us, we should not be naive about the obstacles and difficulties that stand in the way here....

Read the whole post here.

I would say that one important part of my job as a photographer is to make images that represent something other people might not know about. If what the images represent is perceived as a problem (social or otherwise) then the task is to make people who can do something to remedy the problem aware.

More and more though I am beginning to think that it is not enough just to make people aware of something. You have to actually do something about it yourself as well. If you can't do it yourself, make sure your work is seen and/or you are partnered with someone who can.

Many photographers work this way, and I am certain that it is the way forward for photojournalism.

Indeed, it is the way forward for all of us.

Pirates



Earlier this year I was discussing some ideas for projects with a few friends and colleagues. One of the topics that came up was Pirates. We all agreed that a story on Pirates off the African coast would be one we would all be interested in. The problem is, none of us are Pirates. A story like that would take days, weeks and even months of research and work. Gaining the trust of those engaged in illegal activities is always a tricky task. This would probably be especially dangerous and difficult. These people are unlikely to allow a journalist to tag along for the ride as they jump aboard a tanker and demand a ransom. Besides, none of us had the time or funds to make the trip to Africa. So we dropped the subject.

However, there are always several angles to a story, and an article on Pirates was recently published in the New York Times. Granted these Pirates were all ones who had been captured and imprisoned but it just goes to show, there is more than one way to tell a tale. And some of the pictures are great.


Photo: Jehad Nga for The New York Times

"Pirates, pirates, pirates," said Gure Ahmed, a Canadian-Somali inmate of the jail. "This jail is full of pirates. This whole city is pirates."

By the way. I love the word 'Pirate'. Read the above quote out loud and see how great it sounds!

Mixed Blood

Photograph by Bradley Lincoln

It has been stated, quite rightly, that the new President Elect of the United States is not in fact an African American, but is of mixed race. Only part of him is African American.

This is not to belittle his heritage - far from it - but I know those with a mixed ancestry can sometimes find the distinction to be one that is important, with the ramifications being either positive or negative. For example, one of my good friends grew up in West Africa with a white mother and black father. In Africa, he was labeled the 'white kid'. When he moved to the UK, he was labeled as 'black'. Confusing, no?

My children are of mixed blood, as are many of my friends, and I also know many people in interracial relationships. The question of identity and how your genetic heritage defines you is a very interesting one and as the world's populations integrate it will become more and more so.

Today I saw this series of photographs by Bradley Lincoln, relating to this project.

I think this subject has great potential for a photographic project and I only wish these particular portraits were better photographs...

2008 U.S. Presidential Election - The Final Day.

I wonder if the following images tell you who I think you should vote for? As a British Citizen living in the U.S. I have no vote, but I still have a vested interest in what happens today - so I hope the Americans chooses wisely.



Richard Avedon


Ozier Muhammad/New York Times




Rex Features

By the way, In case you were wondering, I think you should vote for Obama, but not because he will save us all (intelligent and charismatic though he is); no, it is simply because a vote for McCain/Palin would be an absolute disaster. At best, an Obama administration will probably undo some of the damage done over the past 8 years. A McCain administration would continue on the same path and things would get steadily worse.

So for once, I agree with a politician's campaign slogan and it is definitely time for a change, though many people still disagree...



Todd Heisler/New York Times