TOMORROW was created yesterday

                                                                                                                                        

This is the story of how a building site helped me discover a new way of seeing how times past relate to now, !

On first inspection this photographic series might appear to be the product of digital manipulation , however ,  the collisions of time & coincidence seen here are created by a unlikely serendipitous reality, which is a bi-product of numerous mundane parking, security and public safety requirements !

All of the views here are as found and captured without my intervention.

These simple photographs show how a unremarkable demolition / construction site became the subject of my photographic attentions for more than a year due to the way a historically themed fence appeared to relate, evolve and juxtapose with life today.    The more I looked at the historic photographic representations on this perimeter fence the more I noticed the surprising visual insights and contrasts that existed between modernity and nostalgia. .  

 The story starts in November 2016 when I capture a image of a modern hi-tech jogger running past what was then a demolition site, at first glance the runner appears to be in a a 100 year old street scene, however, the scene behind the runner is monochrome, while the runner enjoys full-colour representation ?   This image was the first image that suggested a form of visual time travel to me that was worthy of further investigation !

Following this capture I revisited the site over the following year, at first I thought these images were a bit of fun, but eventually it dawned  on me  that these images were offering interesting interactions that displayed elements of wit and social comment.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       I adopted this location as part of my Street Photography route but I did not plan for these individual captures to be seen collectively , slowly I was getting drawn into how the saturated high visibility of the 21st century looked displaced against the nostalgic monochromatic streets of earlier times. . I eventually learned that these pictures possess a deeper significance as a body of work . 

This unique perspective shows how a small part of a evolving British city can reveal a unexpected narrative of how scenes from the past maintain a surprising connection with life today !

These pictures document how our urban environments will always be unfinished work's in progress.

 

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Quote ..

A quote from Stuart Paton , taken from a Arek Rataj interview. 

 I think we have to be aware that certain visual criteria that may land you popularity can also lead you astray if you overly adapt to those criteria when they’re not genuinely your own. The perverse effect of subliminally incorporating visual click-bait into your method. Best to stay humble and hungry. Otherwise, like Icarus, you fly too close to the sunshine of popularity, the wax melts and you lose the wings that elevated you there in the first place.

 

More at Lensculture .

Never Mind The Bollocks !

Are comparisons between 21st century Street Photography and 1970's Punk rock worthy of consideration ? (see christopherjwilson.com ) . As a current Street Photographer who experienced and survived the musical uprising 40 years ago while attending Newcastle Collage Of Art I feel qualified to comment.

I see many similarities between the late 1970's and our pre-brexit Britain, the lack of optimism within society is quite reminiscent of the social conditions that inspired the anti-establishment musical response of Punk Rock to a country that was failing and offered little hope , especially to the young.

The country was divided in many ways back then just as it is now, both the political and musical establishment were perceived to be out of touch and motivated only to maintain the failing status quo, .  They gave no voice to social discord, there was no appetite for change. 

Nevertheless musical anarchy emerged !

One of the greatest legacies of this period was the idea of independent production of music and records and the realisation that those in positions to influence did not act in our best interests, if we wanted change we would have to drive it.

I love the idea of Street Photography being the new social response to political and cultural failure , the thought of the "X factor" generation finding a collective visual voice capable of protest at the very least and maybe even effecting social change at its best is refreshing.

                     Sadly , I see little evidence of main stream Street Photography ever being used in ways that portray a narrative of anger or even dissent in Britain . The pursuit of shadowy generic pictorial bollocks appears to occupy the visual sensitivities of today's new Togs , excellent technique is valued above a meaningful connection with the urban environment. 

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I'm very sorry to have to report that today's Street Photographers fall short when compared to the so called "Punks" of the 1970's, the "X factor" generation appears to be anaesthnastised by the digital gluttony and Simon Cowals "taste" in music , they appear to believe that a few "Likes" & "Retweets" on social media can change the world , it will not !

The Rock against Racism movement grew out of Punk Rock , I believe it played a major part in making this country a better place to be , real change requires real interaction with the real world,  as photographers we should have a louder visual voice and much more to say about how things are in the UK.

Punk Rock and New Wave music changed the mindset of many of my generation at a time when all looked grey, the Punks had something to say , most Street Photographers appear to have little of value to say about their neighborhood or country. But will fiercely defend the merits of Japanese digital camera brands ?

Anarchy in the UK has turned to Apathy in the UK !

Keep it real , rebel a little, you might like it  !

Survive Street Photography !

It would appear to be that time of year again, when Street Photography gets its annual mauling , on this occasion I'm not going to wade in and deliver another kicking to our beleaguered art form as the fictitious Street photography "community" appears to be doing a fine job of self destruction with its communal delusions of avarice and grandeur . 

Michael Sweet says he's no longer a Street Photographer , that's a shame because I always enjoyed reading his ramblings but I have to be honest and confess that his pictures do not occupy a large space in my memory !  I wish him well as his overview of all things SP always struck me as honest and accurate even if his views were delivered without sugar coating..

The only way to survive this Street Photography shenanigans is to maintain realistic expectations and be motivated only by the thrill of creating and sharing your Street photographs . The day you cease to be thrilled by a successful capture , . . . STOP ! 

Street Photography becomes more difficult for me each year as I become more selective of the images and ideas I pursue , my photography is created by me for me which is just as well as I'm (like most Street Photographers) not being killed in the rush by those wanting to own and purchase my best efforts.

The desire to create "Street" images ebbs and flows with me , I know I must work when I'm "feeling" it and have also learned that pushing against the tide of low mojo rarely delivers .The challenge of this Art form is to develop your own ethos, approach and visual manifesto that not only creates the photographs you crave but enriches you as a person and a photographer.

The personal development is infinitely more important than the photographic growth.

In my opinion the Street Photography journey is one that is best undertaken alone although that's not to say that fellow travelers should not be embraced along the way as these folk will add value to your journey, beware of those pilgrims that demand payment from you along the way as they maybe selling you no more than your own creativity, one shot at a time ?

You do not need permission to create , get out there with your camera and discover who you are, prepare to fail and prepare to learn.                Shoot more and post less !

Remember the pictures are the prizes !

Keep it real !

 

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Stop Looking & Relax ?

 The State of Britain and UK Closed doors projects have helped me  realise that I have been taking things too seriously, I have not shot a proper feel good "Street" pic for a while . this week I decided to go in search of a pic or two that might put a smile on my face, the weather was great , my mindset was right and more importantly I was feeling lucky !

I soon discovered that the reality of the situation did not match my optimism, as the heat and lack of picture opportunities evaporated my optimism and reminded me of how challenging SP is when your on the front line .  I shot a few frames that I knew were not going to make the cut as I tried to make something happen,  in order to maintain what optimism remained I decided to take a break and rethink my approach.

Armed with my favorite sandwich and soft drink I found a quiet spot and watched the world go by, to be honest it was the best part of the day, I did not rethink anything I just relaxed , my peace was shattered when I noticed a young woman walking past carrying a very unusual item, I could not believe my eyes !

The next few minutes are probably  best described as "How not to take a street pic"  !

Thankfully my camera was already around my neck , with my part consumed sandwich and soft drink in my left hand and my camera in my right I jumped to my feet and pursued the view that I knew would put a smile on my face . I already knew how I wanted to frame this shot as I moved into position and shot 3 frames !  Got it !

It turns out that the subject of this pic is a student of Beauty at the local college and the item under her arm is her model head , strange how this picture only revealed itself to me once I had stopped looking !

Keep it surreal ...

The State Of Britain

When I embarked on my State Of Britain series I knew that 2017 was going to be a year of political significance , the Brexit vote and political change in the US lead me to believe that a year of uncertainty and political upheaval was inevitable.

What interested me most was how these changes would manifest themselves into the day to day live's of the UK population , in some ways the challenge for me was to interpret what I saw around me and try to create a series of images that represent everyday scenes during these unusual times .

One of my concerns has been the way that Britain's adoption of Americana appears to be growing into a increasing appetite for the "American Dream" which to my mind at least is the creation of a society that believes in the survival of the fittest and accepts food banks and homelessness as acceptable solutions to a under funded welfare state.

The only great certainty is that things are about to change in the UK , the changes will be much more subtle than the dismantling of Britain's industrial landscape that came to represent the Thatcher era and feature greater pressure on disadvantaged individuals who rely on state support.

Where and when the pictures for this series will reveal themselves to me is as yet unclear, however I will be viewing this country of mine with a more cynical eye than ever before and suggest that you do the same and try to record how your community changes.

Keep it real !

Who are ya !

What do your photographs say about you and your life ?

Its a simple question but I can hear your silence from miles away, its deafening !

The truth is that most of us are happy to pick up our cameras and rush out the door in the hope that something will turn up and we will get lucky. This approach is not rare and can be seen repeatedly on many SP web sites.  I'm sure that we all accept that Street Photography for all its faults and interpretations of definition is at the very least a form of communication, this could be emotional, factual and hopefully creative, in short it is a alternative to using words as a descriptive form. In fact a photo is worth a thousand words, allegedly !  

I see many SP efforts that are worth far fewer words but we'll not go there,  now lets change the medium, take a look at how you might approach sending a text message and look at the decision process involved.

Who is it for ?

What do I need to communicate ?

Does the recipient read the same language as I write ?

The parallels between the two acts of picture making and texting are clear, the worry is that sending a text for most is so familiar that we accept the thought process above but often give less planning and consideration to the images we make on the streets. Would you send a text to a friend that said "Random Unremarkable Stranger" , no ! The value of the statement and images of this subject are not unrelated, they are of equal value.

The point I'm trying to make here is that we should engage with our photographic equipment in the same way we would a computer keyboard ,learn the rules of the medium , decide what you want to say and don't share your message until it says what you need to say,  simple .

The next sentence relies on luck ,hope & serendipity . Djkfhieugfagj jgsrajj  hjds  ,,hgedfcvbgh  hffsfgcbnvcvgdbk !  Those who are able to read the above message should carry on  shooting without thought for form, structure and content ,  the rest of us might want to develop a more thoughtful approach to our Street Photography captures.

This blog was written on the back of a fruitless Street Photography session yesterday.

Enjoy the Easter break and keep it real .

 

Time To Change !

I can't believe that we are almost at the half way point of March in 2017, this year seems to be flying past, to be honest I feel as if its leaving me behind as I have yet to achieve anything meaningful this year on the photographic front although the Blue Frames project and my State of Britain projects are making slow progress.

Its time to get organised for the year ahead and decide what my photographic priorities are and identify the the places and subjects I want to shoot over the remaining 9 months of this year of instability.

The Blue Frames project is so spontaneous it requires little planning and usually relies on me winging it each week, however my "British" shoot needs a bit of forward thinking if I am to be in the right locations at the right time. The truth is that The State of Britain project is not really about the places but has more to do with the times and political climate that we are currently living through. I believe that the visual effects of austerity, change and economic uncertainty are the currency of this project and should be seen against a background of existing cultural and political links with the United States. 

How the story of our times will manifest itself through my pictures remains to be seen as the creation of work that represents a time or era and its effects on a particular place can only be judged with hindsight but must be created now.

The take away message of this short blog is that the next few years will be seen as important on both sides of the pond and images that communicate the changes to our everyday lives may be viewed with more significance in the years and decades ahead, for that reason we should try to engage more meaningfully with what we see and shoot and try to create a narrative of political and social change that hopefully will create a greater understanding of our lives and times.

Keep it real !

 

Whats that smell ?

I'm beginning  to worry about the well-being of Street Photography, it appears to be under attack from all directions. I appreciate that both sides of the pond appear to be embracing change at any cost but surely the lunatics have not taken over the SP asylum, have they ?

The first thing I noticed on my Twitter feed this week is that some Japanese manufacture had introduced a new letter or number to a previous model number and togs seemed to be conflicted between feelings of enticement, excitement and inadequacy !  

The second thing I noticed this week was a article in the Guardian promoting the work of female photographers, apparently SP has been dominated by the "male gaze" for longer than is good for the art form so a woman only group has been set up to right this wrong.   I was more than a little surprised to find out that my SP sisters were feeling less than equal in the Street Photography community so I set about seeking a male only tog group but came up empty handed, it appeared that all the groups I found embraced equality and diversity. I did find one group that was only open to those who believed in the creative qualities of Hobnob biscuits but even they allowed Bourbon fans to join.

All in all as I sit here I'm feeling as if the Street Photography world is becoming more selective than ever before, I'm starting to feel anxious, if I don't buy this camera that has a new improved model number or start treating female togs in a more positive way I'll be doomed to a life of Luddite or sexist accusations. 

The cynical side of me believes that the problem with open photo groups is that they are not unique and that's not helpful if your seeking to create a USP to sell a few prints, I hope it works for those involved but I worry about the long term cost of disingenuous divisions.

The way I see it is very simple, there are only 2 types of Street Photographs, those I like and those I don't !  I care not one jot about the sex, sexuality ,race or nationality of the author and just for the record I care even less about camera kit and have no understanding of the excitement created by the launch of a new bit of Japanese tech.

It would appear that marketing is at the root of all things smelly this week as I can't believe that the latest Japanese offering or a photo group that excludes others is either needed or necessary ?

 

Those of you who have made it to the end of this piece have probably already guessed what the smell is,  

Keep it real !

 

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The Blue frame project

Happy New Year !  If your reading this you managed to survive the festivities, congratulations !

During the Christmas break I was invited to participate in a picture per week project for 2017 and of course I accepted without really considering the logistics, the problem I have is that I'm not a city dweller, which is a bit of a disadvantage for a Street Tog, anyway I decided to shoot this 52 pic challenge with a conceptual approach and was inspired to buy a blue framed mirror for two quid from a local charity shop and investigate the creative potential of this mirror that had almost reached the end of the road .

I had made a capture a few years ago at a car boot sale that had sparked my interest in the way reflections can create a surreal vibe if considered carefully. The truth is that this idea had been put on the back burner along with many others, once I was confronted by my moment of inspiration (The charity shop moment) I knew I had to give it a go.

The first picture for the project came within minutes as I needed to rest my new blue friend against a wall, combined with my shopping I was struggling to make it back to the car without a breather, I did not plan to buy a great big mirror !

Anyway the view that the mirror picked up led me to believe that I might be onto something, I managed to capture 3 decent views before I returned back to my car. The mirror now lives permanently in the back seat and will be taken out 51 more times this year, madness !

That's how the Blue Frame Project was born, I'm unsure that I'll manage to create 52 shots with it before the seven years bad luck curse catches up with me, we'll see.

Apologies to the Street Photography Police for going off piste but the conceptual thing can't last, can it ?