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Blog moved >

April 25th, 2014

I am no longer writing about Street Photography here on but you can find new writings on my work and Street Photography on my own site blog here:

Thanks: The Management

The Street Collection

March 30th, 2012

50 top street photographers, including members of in-public, have offered limited editions of their best work to raise money for Photovoice in an online sale between 18th and 25th April.

The Street Collection includes beautiful, dramatic, comic and moving images that capture the energy and idiosyncrasy of everyday life on streets across the globe. Over 500 prints will be available at just £100 each.

Participating photographers include: Nick Turpin, David Gibson, Maciej Dakowicz, Nils Jorgensen, Mark Alor Powell, Stephen McLaren, Mimi Mollica, Polly Braden and Johanna Neurath.

The sale is curated by Sophie Howarth, co-author of Street Photography Now (Thames and Hudson, 2010).

Buyers will be able to view all the available photographs online at from 4 April. Online sales open at 10am on 18 April.

That’s Life

December 26th, 2011

The international march of Street Photography continues this week with the launch in India of a new collective called That’s Life, starting with just four photographers Arindam Thokder, Kaushal Parikh, Prantik Mazumdar and Suyog Gaidhani. The collectives work is largely strong and consistent using colour, harsh light and large depth of field in many cases to produce images reminiscent of Alex Webb. Other work in Black and White remains contemporary in feel and manages to avoid the historical baggage that often entails. I particularly like that the group’s maestros section acknowledges the work of the two great Indian influences on us all Raghu Rai and Raghubir Singh. I wish them well and look forward to seeing what develops.

See more…

Burn My Eye

December 4th, 2011

This week saw the launch of a new Street Photography Collective, ‘Burn My Eye’. There is some really nice work on the site and the group feels like it has the energy and enthusiasm that the founding members of in-public had 11 years ago. There are a number of Street Photography groups online now but this one really stands out for me in it’s relatively tight choice of photographers and images.

Go and have a browse.

Photography on the Couch.

November 14th, 2011

Nobody could say that Photography wasn’t thriving, it is cheap, easy and accessible to make, simple to share and distribute around the world in seconds. Photography has become a central part of our online social experience, the general public are doing workshops, talking about photography on forums and twitter, publishing books of their own photographs through online platforms, some are even selling their weekend snaps through Getty and other image libraries. Everyone is a Photographer.

Imagine a world were we can all solder copper pipe together and fit a radiator, the job of ‘plumber’ would cease to exist….is that what has happened to the Photographer?

Certainly professional commercial photographers are struggling in a reduced market but the crisis with photography goes far beyond that, the role of photography as a cultural entity has and is changing, those of us who love the power of the still photograph are operating in a world where everyone is re-evaluating the value and role of the photograph, what it can and should still be required to do, what opportunities still remain to contribute to it’s historical legacy in a meaningful and not just gimmicky, attention grabbing way.

The development of photography over the last hundred years has been dynamic, thrusting and progressive, like an atomic explosion of creative energy, photographers building on and reacting to what has preceded them. From early explorations of the possibilities of the medium to document, record and communicate our world through a subjective use of the camera to comment and express ourselves, upwards it continued…through large scale German deadpan objectivity, back again to the US and a decade of Staged Narrative creations and expanding out into a huge broad mushroom cloud of manipulation, citizen journalism, recycling and remixing, flickr, Blurb and the era of ‘Everyone as Photographer’. A huge democratic ubiquitous cloud of digital imagery available to all continually expanding outwards, blocking out the sun, bigger and more stifling with each new day, no longer individually observable images with their own qualities but an amorphous unedited mass no longer thrusting upwards with power and energy and direction but spreading out, copying, replicating and engulfing everything.

The detonation of photography is over and around the world photographers, curators, gallerists, publishers, commentators, reviewers and festival organisers are all asking…What Now?

In April 2010 SFMOMA held a symposium asking ‘Is Photography Over’ , this year the Aperture Foundation ran an event titled ‘What Matters Now’, at this years Arles Photography Festival was the exhibition ‘From Here On’ and this week FOAM gallery exhibits ‘What’s Next’ an installation of all the photographs uploaded to flickr in 24 hrs.

Photography is not Dead, it’s just having an identity crisis.

“What is the value of continuing to speak of photography as a specific practice or discipline?” SFMOMA summit.

Photography is clearly in a time of self interrogation and questioning, it seems no longer to be clear what a good photograph is, what the values, significance or meaning of a good photograph of the future might be. There is a sense that there may no longer be a role for what were specialist ‘practitioners’ of photography because there are no longer good or bad photographs. There are so many Photography awards, grants, competitions, festivals, exhibitions, magazines, books, Apps and so much noise about the medium that nothing can be hailed as special or significant or as contributing. New projects and stories are launched, spread, discussed, digested and disappear back into the mushroom cloud inside 24hrs if they are lucky. This then raises the role of the expert, we are all experts and none of us are experts because in the mushroom cloud of photography we are all blind and disoriented.

'What's Next?' Image Courtesy of FOAM via Creative Review.

The situation reminds me a little of when people talk about global warming and pollution destroying the Earth, I always think, the Earth will be absolutely fine, it’s the humans you need to worry about….well I think Photography is going to be fine but I’m not so sure we need photographers anymore or anyone to tell us what’s worth looking at.

The Aperture Foundation event in September this year sought ‘Proposals for a New Front Page’ implying that there was no longer anywhere to go for a consensus of what was ‘important’, there was no longer a Front Page. Now that we are all producers of photographs we are also the active curators/aggregators of our own photographic rosters of photographers and galleries of images, we favourite and share and link and tweet the pictures that move us so that we can return to them and express our curatorial choice to our peers. As Steve Mayes, the Director of VII and a participant in the ‘What Matters Now’ event concludes “an active reader (viewer) is what matters now” in the creation of their own “individualized front page”. The net gives us the tools to reach into the billowing mushroom cloud of imagery and select, link to and order images from it for ourselves. The schooled curators of institutions no longer earnestly present photography to us, we reach in and take what we want and reject what we don’t want.

This environment leaves the traditional creators of photographic images in a new and challenging position, I’m not talking here about the commercial formula photographers that shoot cars, packshots and girls in frocks….I’m talking about those who have something to say with the medium apart from ‘buy me’. I have noticed recently a lot of very self conscious photographic projects that are trying to get noticed by being crazy or shocking in a simillar way to what we saw in Art when it was floundering. There is something immature about this constantly pushing on photography’s boundaries like a teenager.

Like all of the ‘Photography on the Couch’ style events I listed, this post will end on the fence without offering a way forward. It may sound like I am griping about the situation when in fact I am not. It remains a fantastic time full of opportunities for young photographers, it’s just that those photographers may work in chemists, wait tables or manage databases instead of having studied photography and they already have a following for their work online and almost certainly the Directors and Curators at SFMOMA, Aperture Foundation, Arles Festival or FOAM will never have heard of them. The days of institutions led by John Szarkowski like characters directing the medium with their offers of shows are long gone. In this era we all elevate the worthy with the click of the mouse.

UPDATE: David Campbell visited some of these ideas in July in his post: Photographic anxiety: should we worry about image abundance?

Value Added?

November 10th, 2011

This week the record for the sale of a Photograph was broken when a German collector sold one of six copies of Andreas Gursky’s 1999 work “Rhein II” at Christie’s for $4,338,500.

When I look at this as a Photograph and ignore what the Art World tells me its worth, my valuation comes in considerably under that price. My theory is that collectors, gallerists, auctioneers, the art media, art schools and artists themselves are in a kind of unwitting conspiracy to ‘Add Value’ to what is very often extremely poor and unimaginative easy to make work.

Andreas Gursky, Rhein II (1/6) 1999.

If you walked into a gallery and saw this picture on the wall and new nothing about it, how much would you be prepared to pay for it?

How much would you pay for this picture?

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UPDATE: Joerg Colberg’s post on the value of the Gursky

UPDATE: Cartier Bresson reaches new record price at auction of $590,455

I’m not obsessed with money but my local supermarket seem very keen on my paying for food with it before leaving, why is it then that in the virtual world there is an expectation that I should give away my products for free? Established magazines and publishers get in touch with no mention at all of a reproduction fee. There is an implication that I will be giving my pictures for free now but it will be in lieu of some future benefit to my career, a benefit that never materialises in a form acceptable to my local supermarket.

The problem is, and I know this isn’t lost on most of you, we are now working in an environment were less and less photography is being commissioned, print magazines are moving onto iPads, advertising poster sites are becoming video panel sites, fee’s have been sliding for a decade and the few commercial jobs that are about are spread amongst the competing photographers so thinly that effectively commercial photography is over. I have met with a number of established names in the business over the last fortnight and they all tell the same story in one way or another, they depend on their wife’s income to get through the quiet patches or they are relying on cheques from stock sales to survive. Some like me have accepted that this situation can only get worse while others are still optimistic that ‘Things will improve’.

Most working photographers spend more time on promotion through the plethora of online and social media means than they do shooting projects, I for one did not do a degree in Photography to spend more time with a mouse in my hand than a camera.

This state of affairs has been largely technology driven, both the internet and cheap digital cameras have mean’t that anyone can put the word ‘photographer’ after their name and go out looking for work on the net, most are below terrible but they make for a cacophonous visual market place where good and bad are equally drowned out by the visual noise. Ironically the same technology has propelled photography forward in popularity, because everyone has a camera they want to see exhibitions, buy photobooks and do photography workshops…this has lead to the strange situation whereby Photography is flourishing but Photographers are not.

Obviously this technological revolution also has it’s upsides and I believe that if we can return to a situation, like my local supermarket, where we are prepared to pay a little something for high quality independently produced content then we might just all survive. This brings me to the subject of this post…I recently became aware of the online film distribution service and liked their approach, started by two filmmakers Peter Gerard and Andy Green, they cleverly combine existing web technologies like Streaming Video, Paypal and social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Blogging to ‘Seed, Sell and Share’ film content. Filmmakers can offer their films as a streamed download watchable 5 times over 30 days or as a full HD downloadable file. Prospective customers can view a trailer of the film to help them decide if they would like to pay for the whole thing through their Paypal account, if they are fans of the film they can also sign up to be an affiliate of that film whereby they embed the film in their own site or blog and take a commission, usually 10% on each and every viewing that comes through their little bit of the web. This means their is a tangible financial benefit to promoting someone else’s film to your own online community.

Too good to be true?……Let’s see.

I uploaded my recent 38min Street Photography documentary ‘in-sight’ to Distrify two weeks ago. The film had taken three months of my life to make and although I had never planned to make money from it, I didn’t feel like giving it away completely free either. The setup process was easy and I was quickly up and running, after a few Tweets, a Facebook post and a blog placement, I started to get emails popping in from Distrify notifying me of my first sales. Approximately ten days after posting the film Distrify transferred £800 to me and downloads have been fairly steady ever since.

After the film had been online for four days a friend kindly alerted me that someone had posted it on Youtube, this had been a fear of mine but to be fair this can happen from a ripped dvd sale just as easily and I don’t see it as a particular issue with this form of distribution. I mentioned it to Andy at Distrify and despite it being a Sunday morning he had it removed in a matter of hours.

I am encouraged by my experience of selling my creative content direct to the public online, in some ways that is what I did with my magazine PUBLICATION and in-public’s 10 book, both of which went into profit. Distrify takes another step towards an ideal situation where independent filmmakers, photographers and musicians can expect to receive a small donation in return for their products, it’s a possible model for a future that combines micro payment with the huge global reach of the internet to generate a reasonable return for creative producers. It’s vital that we stop giving our products away for free online in the hope that ‘someday’ it will lead to a profit and my Distrify experience makes me feel that one day we will all be happy to pay just a few pence/cents to watch a multimedia film by a photojournalist direct from Yemen or an innovative short film edited in a bedroom by an independent filmmaker. Giving away your content online needs to become as socially unacceptable among creative people as throwing down litter or farting in a lift, it’s got to stop for the good of the whole community.

My film can be streamed for just £2.54 but as my first ten days have shown those small amounts add up when the world is your market place. The money generated will literally enable me to work on another film project.

My thanks to all who supported the ‘in-sight’ film, I look forward to donating to view the fruits of your next creative venture.

New York workshop for WPO

September 8th, 2011

The World Photography Organisation event in NYC between 13th Oct and the 6th November will include workshops by four internationally renowned photographers from four different disciplines.

Portrait photographer Steve Pyke, Photojournalist Jez Coulson, Filmmaker Cheryl Dunn and Street Photographer Nick Turpin will each lead a group in producing a portrait of New York City over three days.

The event is hosted by The Chelsea Art Museum and more information and tickets are available here.

David Gibson in Beirut

August 20th, 2011

in-public member David Gibson will be teaching a four day workshop in Lebanon between the 8th and 11th September 2011. The workshop titled ‘Develop Your Street Photography Style’ is organised by Loryne Atoui. Contact Loryne if you’d like to be one of the 16-18 participants.

Here is clip of David speaking about his work from the in-public film in-sight.

The Best Street Photograph Ever is an experiment. I have set up a page that allows you to upload and rank Street Photographs from any Street Photographer made at any time. If enough people take part and the software works as it should, we should slowly see a distillation of the most enjoyed Street Photographs as the most popular rise to the top of the column of images and the less popular slip down the list.

Potentially we are able to compare and contrast street images from across 150 years and see how they are viewed and rated by a contemporary audience, as the rating progresses we may see trends and preferences appearing. Will the top 10 images be colour or black and white? Will they all be recent or vintage? Will they be complex or simple, humorous or tragic?

I anticipate that at the very least this process will result in a fantastic archive of Street Photographs that will be of great value to anyone wishing to understand Street Photography, be inspired and find out what has gone before.

Please help me make this work by taking part here…

The Best Street Photograph Ever

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