Tog Takes Picture Shock !

I have to admit that my default personal persona, is of a robust self confident nature , but that has been taking a bash lately and my normal undiminished self belief appears to have deserted me and been replaced with a level of creative and visual insecurity ?

I have no real explanation for this, other than “other stuff” is getting between me and the pictures !

What I can say for certain is that you really do have to have your everyday life under control in order to plug into a happy responsive mindset for this Street Photography malarkey , recently I’ve been turning up at the water well and its been dry !

My British project has almost hit the buffers, not unlike Brexit itself !

This crisis of confidence might be nearing the end following the capture of a few views yesterday that made me smile , one view is literally beyond belief , but that is for another day ?

Until next time. keep it real …….

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Street Photography Corruption !

The subject of today’s blog has been nagging me for a while, I noticed this unhealthy trend earlier in the year and said nothing . Today I must speak out !

A few months ago I was lucky enough to see a huge collection of top quality street photography , these images were all created by different photographers from all corners of the world . The skill and vision required to make these individual images was beyond dispute but one thing concerned me greatly !

This curated collection looked as if they all emanated from the same strand of photographic DNA , the lack of variation shocked me !

I was left wondering if Elliot Erwitt , Saul Leiter or any other “Big Name” would have made the cut in this very tight predictable aesthetic , I’m not saying this stuff is bad , in fact its great but viewed as a group, I noticed that they possessed a uniformity, The surprises had left the building !

This lack of variation would be more understandable if the work came from the same geographical area or socioeconomic group , but it does not , the creators & curators of this work come from a broad representation of the global community in every sense , few managed to break out from this predictable street photography generic style .

The truth is that this evolving street photography style has been silently adopted by many and its popularity is growing, many of the “Big Name” members of this cabal are probably not even aware of their subconscious creative obedience ?

The age of Street Photography muzak has arrived and it thrives on Instagram .The common people are curating modern Street Photography , through the power of the “Like” , the cultural equivalent of Birdie Song consumers ruling the roost ! Joking aside, global street photography is looking more like a product of Artificial Intelligence everyday, these incestuously inspired pictures are starting to look more like the products of algorithms than creations of the soul !

I only recently discovered Streetrepeat.org by Julie Hrudova , its excellent and scary in equal measure ? A visual warning to us all that the SP direction of travel should be influenced by a variety of the best creative practitioners who think outside the box, not the passive endorsements of the masses !

One of my own images is on there with thousands of “likes” , the problem is I don’t post on Instagram and never have ?


Beware , twenty first century connectivity is silently stealing everything that has meaning and replacing it with a beautiful hue of nothingness !

Beware , twenty first century connectivity is silently stealing everything that has meaning and replacing it with a beautiful hue of nothingness !



Save yourself first , set up your own independent website now and make it the hub of your independant Street photography practice, care not one jot for the endorsement and acknowledgement of others , discover who you are as a photographer quietly , build and develop your own online space , avoid this dangerous Instagram place.

Social media does have a role to play in Street Photography practice but it is not a useful yard stick to measure personal progress , what we do is very simple , the gear & workflow we use is more or less the same, surely its not beyond us to share our own unique personal interpretations of life ! Resist the pressures and temptation to fit in, you do not have to join the herd and paint yourself grey !

Street Photographs should not look like creations from a well intended committee !

In times now gone, a small pool of analogue street photographers created more or less in isolation and followed independent visual explorations of their neighborhoods, towns or cities. These photographers came up with very different visual solutions ,these conditions gave way to original work and the global foundations of Street , they did it in a unique way, embracing creative isolation and a curious mentality., the adoption of a universal style is a creative cul de sac !

Mass production and consumption of Street Photography is corrupting the ethos of Street Photography , this is happening now on our watch and we are all to blame , the “Street” genie is definitely out of the bottle, we need to collectively and carefully decide how to proceed and make best use of our three wishes !

Don’t let the masses of “Masterpieces” corrupt your unique creative vision, declare a state of creative independence today and pursue your own vision !.

We are all individuals ?



Until next time , keep it real …..

PS The project below shows a great independent vision and how much can be achieved with very little .

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Check out the work of Tristan Bejawn, Juror’s Pick, LensCulture Street Photography Awards 2019, Bus Stop Q ,





Use It Or Lose It !

Things are slow in the UK Street Photography bubble at the moment , the cold UK summer temperatures, Brexit blues and the lower footfall on my preferred locations has not enhanced my photography experience , I’ve picked up the “odd” shot here and there,but nothing to write home about. I have to admit that my preferred happy and optimistic approach has deserted me for a more pessimistic, not seeing it, or feeling it outlook !

My State Of Britain project has lost its momentum due to Britain losing its momentum ?

This state of mind is not new , I have been here before and would imagine that many of you reading this have been in a similar place , when the simple act of pressing the shutter becomes a hesitant act, you need to start shooting more, not less or your visual clarity & confidence will go missing !


This shot from yesterday may not be a masterpiece, it represents my journey to re-establish my visual clarity & confidence.

This shot from yesterday may not be a masterpiece, it represents my journey to re-establish my visual clarity & confidence.

I write this today following a less than successful shoot yesterday, truth be told the connection with my surroundings has become thinner due to my lack of activity on the streets .

The only answer to this problem is to shoot and then shoot some more , the blind faith of knowing that things will improve by repeating my search for meaningful images ,has seen me through this place before. Some of the most established photographers insist that a daily routine of “Practice” is essential in order to maintain the seeing and capture skills they have developed over decades , I certainly recognise that I am not at the top of my game due to my recent short lay-off .

In short ,value whatever Street Photography gains you have made and maintain them with regular short shoots ,Street Photography is not a theoretical activity, your seeing and shooting skills need to be used in order to grow !

As the title says use them or lose them !

Until next time , keep it real..

For Every Generation .

I was on Tyneside last week , meeting old friends and reacquainting myself with the past, it was a interesting journey , in more ways than one !

Although I have not lived in Newcastle for almost twenty years I still think of this place as “Home “ and have a deep connection with this city . The place is buzzing with activity and is definitely on the up , I was delighted to see how the Ouseburn area, under Byker Bridge had reinvented itself and become a leisure and cultural hub, with The Cluny Warehouse taking centre stage..

Although I was impressed by the “New” Tyneside I was more interested in reacquainting myself with the past, My past ! to be more precise .

I revisited the site of my old school (demolished) , the house I grew up in and Wallsend the area around the former Swan Hunters Shipyard , this really was a trip down memory lane.


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I’m not quite sure what I was trying to achieve by this exploration of my past , but the memories came flooding back, ignited by places and faces that were no longer there ! Looking back, I think my reflective thoughts were motivated more by a need to reconnect , rather than develop or invent a new narrative or understanding of my relationship with this place. Inevitably I found myself on the familiar locations that feature in some of Chris Killips photographs…, how things change. !

The view from the former Gainers Terrace (below) , overlooking the former Swan Hunters shipbuilding yard .This is also the place where The Ship In The Hole once stood..Those of you familiar with the work of Killip will find these 2019 views especially interesting. (See previous blog to view Gainers Terrace “Before” by Killip)


A view from what was Gainers Terrace, 2019

A view from what was Gainers Terrace, 2019

Ruins of a Roman Bath House were discovered on the site of The Ship Inn (The Ship In The Hole)..

Ruins of a Roman Bath House were discovered on the site of The Ship Inn (The Ship In The Hole)..

The disappearing shipbuilding artifacts here have given way to displays of Wallsends rich Roman history, Wallsend was the eastern limit of Hadrians Wall ( The Walls End ) , ironically the rise and fall of the Roman Empire appears to be the story of this place now, strange to see how ancient history and tourism is valued more than the industrial heritage that existed here in my lifetime .

The disappearance of the established, dominant shipbuilding skyline, underlines the importance of photography as a tool for recording our social and cultural history, nothing is forever , as photographers we really should value and record the people & places of our “everyday” more, one day they won’t be there .

I’m less worried than I used to be about the future of this place , the seeds of new Green industries appear to be sprouting up all over the banks of the river , the open space in the pictures above might become the home & catalyst of Tyneside’s next great industrial revolution ?

Until next time ….















Diving For Pearls

Some of you might recognise the title of this blog , it comes from the Langer, Costello track Shipbuilding .

The tune resonates with me on many different levels , especially when performed by Robert Wyatt, this is the sound track I play in my mind when I view Killips Wallsend work . I’m aware that much of the work existed before the song.

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Shipbuilding

Robert Wyatt

Is it worth it?
A new winter coat and shoes for the wife
And a bicycle on the boy's birthday.

It's just a rumor that was spread around town
By the women and children, soon we'll be shipbuilding

Well I ask you
The boy said 'Dad, they're going to take me to task
But I'll be home by Christmas.

It's just a rumor that was spread around town
Somebody said that someone got filled in
For saying that people get killed in
The results of their shipbuilding.

With all the will in the world
Diving for dear life
When we could be diving for pearls.

It's just a rumor that was spread around town
A…


The Ship Inn, known as The Ship In The Hole by locals to avoid confusion with the High street pub of the same name.

The Ship Inn, known as The Ship In The Hole by locals to avoid confusion with the High street pub of the same name.

With everything that is going on, I’m reminded that many of us are “Diving for life, When we could / should be diving for pearls .

Don’t let the futility get between you and the important stuff , we are only passing through this place.

I’m revisiting Tyneside this week to say goodbye to a friend.

Until next time , dive for pearls …

Killip Zines Here http://www.ponybox.co.uk/shop/publications-2/the-last-ships/ …










Seeing Everything , Shooting Nothing !

Accepting the idea of Departure Points , Helsinki Bus Station Theory or any other of the inspirational photo metaphors should help you become more focused as a photographer, planning your photographic journey long before you get your camera out is the only way to go, don’t fall asleep, miss your stop and wake up at the metaphorical terminus.

To be clear I’m not writing about the logistical planning of a Photo-Trip, this blog is intended to help you develop creative strategies that will help you find Street Photographs that reflect your personal picture making aspirations rather than make captures that add to the meaningless mass of “unremarkable stranger” pictures that live and breed on-line !

Know what you want !

Yes that’s right, develop firm ideas of what you want to achieve , this photography thing is not about luck or right time right place, successful Street Photographers have highly developed insights of how they want their pictures to look ! That is not to say that you should eradicate serendipity or failure, we already know that serendipitous events and photographic failure are important elements of the Street Photography process but we should not be failing due to poor visual insight, approach or god forbid a lack of effort !

A thorough understanding of “destination” makes finding your potential photographic subjects much easier , as not everything in this world will fit your already developed photo agenda, one of the reasons I work in series is that project themes help me to filter out picture opportunities that do not meet my relevant photo requirements . I do not have the time or inclination to try and shoot everything, I want to invest my time and energies into developing my predetermined objectives, I want to shoot the right things ,and visually edit the wheat from the chaff as I go, during the shoot .

Seeing everything can be overwhelming visually, personally developed goals can help you filter out the visual chaos and see your subject more clearly.

The event that enabled me to make “The Lunatics Have Taken Over the Asylum” , 2016 , picture did not offer me any other photographic opportunities that met my agenda , I decided early on in the day that I would make as many pictures as possible that featured this painting, I knew BOJO would feature in the developing story that The State Of Britain Series represents .

This could be the next Prime Minister Of Britain ?


I shot more than 50 frames using this painting as a background, one of the captures has become the signature pic of the series.

I shot more than 50 frames using this painting as a background, one of the captures has become the signature pic of the series.

Working in series on this occasion made me work harder on a single element (BoJo) within a very busy event , I had a personal photographic agenda to follow , all of the other visual noise just vanished .

I know its not practical for everyone to commit to photo projects that last years but I believe that photographers who understand where they are now and develop visual aspirations alongside identified “destinations” will be more likely to succeed , whatever that means for you. . A random approach will lead to random results .

You can not expect to find great images if you have no idea what “your” great images look like !

Until next time, keep it real !


What A Week !

The activities surrounding the run up to the Euro-Elections enabled me to create more work for my State Of Britain series this week, I started off photographing folk campaigning on the streets locally and ended up being invited to photograph a Brexit Party Rally !

People handing out leaflets on the street might not create earth shattering photographs but it does demonstrate how sometimes doors open when you engage with a subject at street level and explain to others what your doing and what your trying to achieve.

Engage with .your story at street level .

Engage with .your story at street level .

I was contacted by Chris Apperly at the online photography platform Togspace this week and agreed to share some work from The State Of Britain series with the Togspace audience, surprisingly this is the first UK based platform to show a interest in this very British project . The feature should appear this weekend , many thanks to www.togspace.co.uk for your support .

I photographed a Brexit Party Rally on Wednesday night and managed a few pictures that will certainly feature in the “Final Edit” of this series, I might be wrong but the end of this Brexit story might be in sight, but then again …….

I have to mention that American style political campaigning appears to have arrived in the UK with The Brexit Party, I’m no stranger to political gatherings but I have not seen this level of political evangelism in Britain before !

Against a background of shooting and editing my recent work I also had to renew my First Aid qualification this week , so a quick thank you to The St Johns Ambulance service for the excellent 2 day training course .

It really is a big challenge to shoot, edit and share the progress of a personal photographic project on a part-time basis while working in order to keep the wolf away, this series is definitely taking shape and echoing the mood of what is a very unpredictable country at a very unpredictable time.

As I write this Teresa May has just announced her departure !

Until next time, keep it real !

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The Point Of Departure ?

Her reply ran counter to the idea of the heroic photographer wandering the streets in search of some kind of truth. Instead she said he had to have an objective and a destination, and then he might intersect with something worth photographing.

Dorothea Lange to a 21 year old Ralph Gibson

A Chat With Mr KILLIP

Those of you who read my British Photography Symposium piece last week will be aware that I managed a quick chat with Chris Killip at the event , I should explain that Mr Killip was director of Side Gallery in 1977 . I blame Killip and all things Side for my persistent photographic affliction !

Killips representation of the deindustrialisation of my everyday landscape taught me how familiar places looked when photographed , I also noticed that a photographic agenda could effect how often people smiled and determine if the sun would shine ?

I was more than a little confused when Chris described himself and the Tyneside work as none political , the famous quote from his In Flagrante (1988 edition) “Fiction about Metaphor” never sat well with me as a means of describing what I see as traditional solid documentary photography , is this Art Photography ? I never saw this work as Art at the time of capture, this work represented my reality !

I have to confess to seeing the Tyneside work as political , it was certainly critical , that was a large part of its appeal to me, this work fitted my natural politics, I naively read these photographic works as protest ! The “Prepare for revolution” graffiti did not seem unreasonable to me , the irony was that a revolution of capitalism had already started and I was in the middle of it !

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I must admit that the more recent edition of In Flagrante conflicts me less than the original. The pictures were never a problem to me as I believed they were made with integrity, although the words made me less comfortable.

It should be remembered that In Flagrante was published 2 years after Parr’s full colour, New Brighton project, The Last Resort , 1986. . The In Flagrante work was never cutting edge, however the safe monochromatic tones placed these views into a evolving documentary tradition that was moving towards colour and the expectations of a modern international Art Photography audience. These pictures evolved into more than a few historical Tyneside views !

When chatting with Chris, I discovered that he too had been a resident of Walker, a suburb to the East of Newcastle city centre, he once lived on Welbeck Road , this explains why a number of his views were so familiar, they were literally very close to home !

We discussed the local pub , The Scrogg Inn , and his move to Bill Quay on the South side of the Tyne , overlooking Swan Hunters Shipyard , one of his visitors HCB made a sketch of the shipbuilding view from his window. .

Another question I asked him was about a on-line sea coal picture that I believed was mistakenly credited to HCB a few years ago , it turns out that HCB did photograph the Northumberland sea coalers ! Killip arranged Bresson access to the sea coalers at a time when he was not allowed to shoot them, he introduced HCB as a French journalist and the sea coalers were happy to be photographed by a foreign photographer as they believed his pictures would not be seen in England , Bresson was in the NE for his Side Gallery exhibition at the time of his 70th birthday. I believe his birthday party was in Byker ! I’m unsure if HCB visited The Middle Club ?

Finally I had to discover why he left Newcastle to take up a position at Harvard , as I was disappointed that Chris did not stay on Tyneside and share his insights with new local photographers like me . He told me that he had applied for a lecturing post at Newcastle Poly and had not even been selected for interview ! The reasons for this were unclear although past conflicts within the Northern Arts scene may have been influential ? A few weeks later a job offer from America arrived ,Chris needed a job at this time , the rest is history .

It was great to meet another of my teenage heroes at the Parr Foundation , revisiting Killips Tyneside. pictures has brought back some very warm personal memories of this place and these times.

Until next time keep it real !

Killip Zines Here http://www.ponybox.co.uk/shop/publications-2/the-last-ships/ …





British Art Photography 1980's Symposium

It was time to fire up the Quattro in true Gene Hunt, Ashes to Ashes style and revisit a Britain that was led by Thatcher , and was at war with Argentina. The country was reinventing itself , trying to shake off a post war hangover ! British Art Photography was still growing from the seeds planted in the late seventies . This was a time of industrial and social change , a new photographic language was emerging in Britain from unlikely sources !

The Bristol based Martin Parr Foundation followed up on last years 1970’s British Photography event with the 1980’s speakers listed below

10.00 / Anna Fox
11.10 / Jem Southam
12.10 / Karen Knorr
13.00 / lunch
14.30 / Paul Graham
15.40 / Chris Killip
17.15 / panel discussion


Anna Fox started the day off with pictures that were critical of 80’s corporate culture and was followed by Gem Southam who spoke of the DIY ethos that existed at this time and the birth of The Over The Rainbow Gallery that became a important hub for British Photography in South West England . Mention was made of a less than complimentary comment left in the comments book by a then unknown photographer Paul Graham, I wonder whatever happened to him ?

Gem also reminded us of the significant early contributions of Newcastle based Spectro Arts , Side Gallery & Impressions Gallery York.

Karen Knorr shared her Belgravia work which became especially relevant at this time when juxtaposed with work like Killips industrial landscapes that were to feature in the afternoon session. Once again the important contribution of Creative Camera magazine was acknowledged in this golden period of British Art Photography, Strangely, considering the venue, Parrs , Last Resort published in 1986 barely got a mention ?

Mick Jagger told me a million times that I should never name drop or exaggerate so I won’t write of the folk I had the good fortune of meeting during the lunch break !

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I met this bloke who used to live near me in Walker, Newcastle Upon Tyne and was familiar with The Scrogg Inn public house , not sure who he was , you meet some interesting folk at the Parr Foundation.

The afternoon session kicked off with a jet lagged Paul Graham who reminded us of the sacrifices that are necessary to see projects through to publication , Paul spoke of adopting the Punk ethos of self production and publication in order to avoid the editorial limitations & costs of the publishing gatekeepers .He still seems to be scarred by the memories of cleaning the tar out of a 50 inch print processor he used back in the day !, The price of fame ?

Despite the adoption of the Plaubel camera by all of the speakers, I was left with the feeling of a make do and mend approach, projects were funded or underfunded by maxed out credit cards and other dubious debts, these were, pioneering days ! These guy’s were risk takers, visually and financially !

The final speaker turned out to be the bloke I had photographed earlier in the lunch break, he knew his way around the North East of England and a Linhof 5x4 camera , he shared some great views and stories , I have known the work of Chris Killip most of my life as this work reflects much of my early life, I grew up in Killip’s Tyneside !

The day finished off with a panel discussion which sadly ran out of time just as it was getting interesting, I hope to hear more of Gerry Badgers observations on the British photography scene in future.

I will share more of my conversation with Mr Killip in a future blog , one story involves HCB and the Sea Coalers ?

Until next time, keep it real !

Killip Zines Here http://www.ponybox.co.uk/shop/publications-2/the-last-ships/ …