Roy DeCarava 1919-2009

I remember the first time I saw DeCarava's book - “The Sweet Flypaper of Life,” a 1955 collaboration with Langston Hughes. I was entirely absorbed and dumbstruck. From there I discovered the wealth of his photography. A big inspiration.


Lay Flat 2

Lay Flat is currently putting together their second issue and looking to raise funds to cover the costs of printing and distribution.

It is Edited by Shane Lavalette and Michael Bühler-Rose and the following photographers are to be included...

Claudia Angelmaier, Semâ Bekirovic, Charles Benton, Lucas Blalock, Talia Chetrit, Anne Collier, Natalie Czech, Jessica Eaton, Roe Ethridge, Stephen Gill, Daniel Gordon, David Haxton, Matt Keegan, Elad Lassry, Katja Mater, Laurel Nakadate, Lisa Oppenheim, Torbjørn Rødland, Noel Rodo-Vankeulen, Joachim Schmid, Penelope Umbrico, Useful Photography, Charlie White, Ann Woo and Mark Wyse

Their work will be accompanied by the textual contributions of Lesley A. Martin (Publisher/Editor, Aperture Foundation), Adam Bell (Co-editor, The Education of a Photographer) and artist Arthur Ou.

If you feel like supporting Lay Flat above and beyond actually buying a copy of the publication when it is released, visit to find out how.

Michael Najjar - High Altitude.

I stumbled across Michael Najjar's work in the Bitforms Gallery last week.

netropolis | berlin, 2003, 180 x 120 cm, edition 6

These days I'm a bit of a photo snob, like my pictures to be 'real' and don't normally go in for photo illustration but I liked the graphic beauty of his Netropolis series on display in the Bitforms project room so I went downstairs and checked out High Altitude.

Here he has taken photographs from a trip up Mount Aconcagua in Argentina, apparently the highest mountain in the Americas, and the highest in the world outside of the Himalayas. But he has done something very simple and clever, if not very original. We've all looked at graphs and thought that they look like mountain ranges, so it's no great leap of the imagination to actually make mountain ranges out of graphs. By taking data from stock market charts and mapping them onto his photographs, he has created a wonderful series of strange looking mountain ranges, something akin to what you might see in some illustrators idea of an alien world.

hangseng_80-09, 202 x 132 cm, edition 6

I didn't do more than skim read the accompanying press release as I can't handle most art speak at the best of times, but it did get me thinking (again) about how the financial system we are pretty much all in thrall to is having an effect on us and our world. many of the mountains in these photo illustrations look like they have been hit by severely corrosive acid rain, stripping away the rock and leaving precarious vertical spikes.

These graphs we see in the financial pages of the newspaper represent a system that is messing with us and our planet. Michael Najjar's high Altitude series gives us a good visual reminder of how the abstract and the real connect.

Billingsgate Market

I love fish. And markets. So do these guys. In my 10 years of living in London this market was always on my list of places to shop. Shamefully I never made it down there..

In any case, some good simple audio drives this slideshow, and the fish photos are mouth watering...

Rinko Kawauchi at Mountain Fold

Rinko Kawauchi at the opening of her show at the mountain Fold Gallery

The Mountain Fold Gallery has a suitable name for a show by Rinko Kawauchi. The actual title of the show is 'Condensation' so if you say "Condensation at Mountain Fold", it sounds a little like a line from some sort of zen Koan.

I'm a big fan of Kawauchi's photographs (Her book 'Cui Cui' is one of my favourite pieces of published work), so despite a long day and a distinct lack of sleep I went down to the opening of this show, getting the opportunity to catch up with some friends in the process.

I'm glad I did, as this concise show of old and new work is a delight. There is an essence of something very peaceful and life affirming in her work. I began to think that she exemplifies the idea of the democratic image much better than Eggleston ever did. His work often seems to be forcing everyday objects to become equal to each other, whereas in Kawauchi's photographs I truly get the sense that a plastic bag brimming with goldfish is as important a part of life as a baby suckling and the bright sun glaring through a tunnel of trees. Though some of her photographs feel a little too casual - like a blurred shot of a bullfight taken from in the crowd - there is still an emotive power to these images. Looking at a couple of the pictures, I thought to myself, 'I would have edited that out for being too blurry, or the focus is not quite where I would have liked..." but I also thought that perhaps I would be wrong to do that. I have pictures I have taken which are not crisp, well composed, or sharp, but that I still love.

Life is not always something that is well defined and clear, so why do we try and make photographs that reflect the fact that it is. Talking about a slightly different subject, someone said to me that evening that if you are not open [minded] you don't ever learn anything.

Too true. thank you Rinko Kawauchi for having an open mind.

Rinko Kawauchi / untitled, 2009

Ressurection of the Polaroid.

I just read this report in the British Journal of Photography. It seems that production of Instant cameras is to resume. Maybe now everyone can get rid of that damn iphone application that mimics the look of Polaroids.

Film is dead. Long live film.

Now all we need is a viable hemp based plastic base for film and some non toxic, eco friendly biodegradable processing chemicals and film using photographers can well and truly get ( even more) self righteous about it all...

Ayuni Images: Please help.

Here is a forwarded message from a friend of mine, photographer Alinka Echeverria. She has facilitated workshops for kids in Mexico and India and is just about to embark on another one in Cuba. I saw her yesterday and she told me they could really use some more cameras - anything that works will help. As she pointed out - the more cameras she has, the more kids can be involved.

Check out the following and please help if you can.

Dear friends,

I wanted to tell you about a photography workshop for kids that I am organizing in Havana. I have now set up a paypal account to make it simple to donate and support the workshop. You can donate by simply making a payment to through paypal. If you don't have a paypal account you set one up at the time of donating. For those of you who have already donated THANK YOU !! I really appreciate your support and would be grateful if you could pass this email onto whomever else you think would like to support this initiative. The more we raise the more children we can invite to participate !

......the idea

An ' Ayuni Images ' team will run photography workshops for kids from inner city Havana in collaboration with the ' Fototeca de Cuba ', the photography center of Cuba. I have given such workshops in Mexico as well as India. Kids' imaginations and creativity always exceeds our expectations. In India we used paper cut out cameras to 'snap' and the kids enjoyed it just as much as with real cameras. On the last day we made a trip to the source of the Ganges river and were able to lend them our cameras to take real photographs. What they had learned and practiced with the paper cameras was put into action and they produced some amazing images. The idea is to teach the kids 'to see' - to observe, compose and choose what to capture and reveal to their future audience. In Cuba the workshop's goal is to produce a 'a day in my life' photo essay of each participant. After a week of fun exercises we will give each participant a camera to take home over a few days and produce a visual diary of their lives. We will produce a slideshow of these photos so the kids can talk about their images, we'll edit together and the best images will be printed and exhibited at their school.

........your support

As this is my initiative I am planning it without financial backing and relying on donations from family and friends who support photography as a means of creative development for children. All donations will go towards buying cameras, film / digital memory cards, developing and printing for the exhibition. Every donor, no matter if you donate $10 or $1000 will receive an 8x10 inch print of the best photos from the workshop (which I will pay for so the donation money is not used) and will be mentioned on the Ayuni Images blog (under construction).

Please donate through pay-pal to my account: and email me with your address so I can send you your print. If you prefer to donate by cheque or by making a deposit directly into my account please let me know.

Also, if you have any old cameras - film or digital- in working condition that you would like to donate please let me know as these would also be a great help. If you are in Mexico or New York I a pick them up in person in the next few weeks.

Please contact me if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.
Thank you very much, I can't wait to see what beautiful work comes out of this ;)


Alinka E. S.

G20 in Pittsburg - Jason Andrew

You may already have seen Jason Andrew's photographs from the G20 in Pittsburg over at BagNewsNotes and No Caption Needed with accompanying commentary.

As I noted in this post, the G20 travelling circus can be truly absurd at times. I asked Jason to send me some photos of the police there (most all of which are in the slideshow on BagNewsNotes) and here are a couple of my favourites.

Personally I don't think they look threatening, just ridiculous. Their armour (while no doubt effective) looks like something from a sci fi spoof. Even with the kevlar vests under their shirts I'm sure I can spot the stereotypical donut induced paunch on a few of them. I'm more scared of the dog, and even that's muzzled. (Incidentally, that shot reminds of Pieter Hugo's Hyena Men series - another travelling circus...)

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I'd like to be on the receiving end of a baton charge by these guys and I know all too well the effects of tear gas and other 'crowd control' techniques but seriously, I'm starting wonder if the power of laughter could be harnessed as a weapon against oppression.

Here's another couple of shots, this time showing the general populace. There's a shot of the lady and young girl gazing out the window with a look that seems to be a combination of concern and bafflement and one of some youth looking for all the world like normal kids on a normal day. I used to do the exact same thing on many a bored evening with my mates as a teenager. Hanging around just waiting for something to happen...

Finally, I liked this shot most of all. For some reason, after seeing it I couldn't get Dr Dre's 'The Watcher' out of my head...

Media Evolution

David Campbell, on his Photography, Multimedia, Politics blog has just written a series of interesting posts on the subject of Revolutions In The Media Economy. Well worth a read. There is much sensible analysis contained in the articles and even, usefully, some reasoned and workable solutions to the current problems of how why and who this new media economy will pay for itself.

Of course, web content will have to be funded, at least until we make the real revolutionary leap of actually doing away with money and having everything (including information) available free, with everyone provided for, everywhere, not one human being excluded. But that's one for the future Utopians to pick up on - back to today and Campbell's essay.

Here is a sample paragraph from part one relating to the content of journalism itself:

"...there is the assumption that journalism, as routinely practiced in traditional news organisations, is a
public good essential to democracy because of its history of challenging authority. To put it mildly, this is viewing things through rose-tinted lenses. It’s easy to think that each and every news organisation is run by people who see Bernstein and Woodward’s pursuit of the Watergate scandal as a template for daily reporting. But recent history suggests that much reporting promotes the interests of those in power (think about The New York Times cozy coverage of the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, which subsequently prompted an apology of sorts from the paper) or recycles PR material (see Nick Davies critique of “churnalism” in the UK, and the “10 ugly truths about modern journalism.”). For sure, we need critical journalism more than ever, and there are some good existing examples, but overall it is something to create as much as it is something to protect. With survey’s showing Americans barely trust what they read or see, journalism’s belief in its inherent social value is ill-founded and needs to be re-established."

And this one, which relates to the problem of how the internet publishing can be used to pay for journalism:

"The first thing that is necessary in answering this is to resist the temptation (again) to look back on an allegedly golden age that has been lost. We have to recognise that news and probing journalism has never made money by itself in order to pay for itself. We should not, therefore, be judging the social media future for reporting via the flawed assumption that we are looking for a business model that will do what has never previously been done."

As I say, much of worth here. I could easily quote the whole 4 part essay, the two paragraphs above are just a taster. If you have not already done so, I well advise you to check out parts one, two, three and four. Do it now.