Ethics & Reasonable Practice !

Understanding ourselves in our everyday life is part of becoming a decent person , discovering and understanding what motivates us as Street Photographers is also important , a personal manifesto of “reasonable practice” should be developed & adopted by every Street Photographer with integrity , know where you are, morally !

This blog assumes the reader has considered the ethics of Street Photography itself and wishes to continue and develop personal guidelines.

What is a good ethical approach to Street Photography ?

This is the million dollar question , I warn you now that this piece is intended to inspire thoughtful consideration , the answers will come from you and will probably change with the passage of time and the pressures of the prevailing social climate.

Street Photography is legal in the UK , however , we should surely set our personal SP barometers a bit higher than the minimal level of being “legal” ! , the morality of certain photographic subjects and circumstances should be considered long before our cameras are raised to our eyes , treating others with respect seems like a good start to me , ask yourself and understand WHY you want to make any particular picture , does your intended capture embarrass , mock or misrepresent the individual or event depicted ?

Street Photography is not expected to meet the high standards of authenticity that photojournalism demands, SP is usually more ambiguous, spontaneous. and candid but is still focused on moments that are real !

What subjects should be off-limits in your own personal ethical photographic manifesto ?

Would you help the injured or photograph a accident ?

Is it morally acceptable for well healed amateur photographers to undertake “poverty Safaris” in search of “good” photographic subjects ?

Is empathy a desirable or undesirable quality in Street Photographers ?

Are you a person first and a photographer second or is the reverse true ?

As a photographer , what are your responsibilities (if any) to those you photograph ?

It’s very easy to get it wrong , I have made captures that I regret, not because of any response on the streets but because I crossed my personal line , on one occasion I juxtaposed a subject in a very unflattering way, I was embarrassed by my own capture, thankfully I saw the error during the edit and decided not to ever publish or share the offending unkind image, I have never repeated this mistake..

Sometimes the intention of a capture can be misread by others, its a fine line we walk, I’m sure most of us have no intention of offending anyone, in short I’m suggesting that we should not allow Street Photography to corrupt our moral compass , just because we have a camera in our hands does not give us the right to behave like amoral morons !

The best pictures don’t offend anyone .

Until next time , keep it real …..


Good News !

There’s a headline you don’t see too often at the moment in the UK , despite the greyness and uncertainty of our collective future’s I bring long overdue news of a Tony Ray Jones publication , this most welcome tome will be with us before Christmas and will coincide with the Ray-Jones exhibition at Parr Foundation , no doubt !

RRB photobooks are publishing a Ray-Jones retrospective later this year, details on the website, which is a bit strange as I have just taken delivery of issue 52 of Creative Camera , October 1968 after many years of searching. These two publications will have 52 years between them !

Creative Camera 1968 , Tony Ray-Jones

Creative Camera 1968 , Tony Ray-Jones

This issue contains some of the captures Ray Jones made in the United States before returning to England. A piece by Frank Charlton is as fascinating and as well observed as the pictures these words describe . The Magazine aims to juxtapose the American work with what have become the cornerstones of modern British Street & Documentary Photography.. This US work influenced how he saw and shot England , his time in America would eventually effect how we all interpreted our country, photographically .

He imported a new way of seeing , in my view !

Charlton writes “In England he finds a cooler human climate , a more subtle play in the remains of a disintegrating empire - yet significance in the relationship of details which at first seem disparate.”

Imagine seeing these captures for the first time back in 1968 , what a privilege !

I am delighted to possess this artifact of British photographic history , the print quality is sublime .

Until next time , keep it real !

Chicago, USA

Chicago, USA

PS. I bought a photo book recently that had been discounted due to scribbles on the title page , I knew that scribble, it was the autograph of one of Englands finest ?

Here's The Thing !

I no longer work as a full time commercial photographer , thankfully ! However, I still maintain the mindset of a serious photographer and organise myself , my kit and my time as if my livelihood depended on it , in fact on a personal level the images I’m creating now are far more important to me than those that were created on demand for cash and cash alone .

I was reminded this week of how I still prioritise picture making in my life when my employer asked, “Why have you still got so many holidays left to take” ? He was more than a little surprised when I told him I was saving my annual holiday entitlement to photograph the events and effects of Brexit in October / November !

He walked away shaking his head ! He thinks I’m mad , he might be right ?

I never really saw this as a sacrifice to be honest , it was just what needed to be done in order to get The State Of Britain project over the line , hopefully ?

As you sunbathe and party around the Mediterranean this summer spare a thought for the creative, independent. uncommissioned self financing picture makers who are trying to make visual sense from this uncertain political narrative of madness ! This is the price we pay for our creative and editorial freedom !

Is anyone else saving holiday entitlement for the last weeks in October early November ? Thought not !

Until next time, keep it real !


Shots from the Hip !

I’m a bit behind the curve with this one , but I must share my very late discovery of this wonderful photographic read ! This is a book written by a Street Photographer for Street Photographers of all abilities and shares the mindset and photographic approach of a thoughtful talented photographer with a gift for words .

Sadly I’m not quite sure who the author of this 1992 book is, but we do know that the accredited Johnny Stiletto is an alias !


The format of the book is very simple , it reads like a good photographic blog using brief stories related to the monochrome pictures that entertain and inform the reader as it gives insights into Street Photography technique and mentality . Those of us of a certain vintage will certainly enjoy revisiting the 1980’s and the trip down memory lane , this book is a refreshing reflection of what I think of as better times !

In my opinion this read is as relevant now as the day it was written, from a Street Photography perspective, it punches way above the sum of its parts and makes you want to go and shoot “Street” !

Be warned some of the images might not meet today’s standards of political correctness !

Shots From The Hip, another way of looking through the camera by Johnny Stiletto, (Bloomsbury Press, is now out of print but does turn up to buy frequently for less cash than it once did ) it might just have become my favorite photography read , I did’’t expect that !

If your looking for a paperback holiday read, this could be it !

Until next time , keep it real !


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 …….


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 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 .


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.


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.



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

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 …

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 !