Burn My Eye

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.

Distrify: A new model for distribution?

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 Distrify.com 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.

The Best Street Photograph Ever

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

10 images from Format11

Earlier this year the London design company JohnsonBanks asked me to select 10 significant images from the Format International Photography Festival 2011, here is the piece I wrote for them.

FORMAT was established in 2004, by Louise Clements and Mike Brown, and is now one of the UK’s leading non-profit international contemporary festivals of photography and related media. The biennale programme celebrates the wealth of contemporary practice in international photography. The theme for the 2011 festival was street photography with the title of ‘Right Here, Right Now’: Exposures from the public realm. The Derby based festival which ran throughout March brought together for the first time some of the greatest names in street photography and reflected the current resurgence the approach is experiencing. Photographers converged on Derby from all over the world and included the legendary Joel Meyerowitz who acted as the festival patron. To wander the galleries was to experience the world in all its quirky variety and beauty, the images presented candid street scenes from different decades as well as from different continents. Often described as ‘the hardest challenge in photography’ street photographers work with the simplest of equipment to observe and record candid moments of magic on our everyday streets, literally making something out of nothing through the act of photography. It is my pleasure to select ten images from this years festival that highlight what is special about the street photographers approach.

01 Although primarily a photojournalist, the Magnum photographer Alex Webb has long been considered a street photographer at heart, his busy and colourful frames juxtapose numerous elements leaving your eye roaming around the picture unable to rest, discovering new details as it goes. His pictures balance carefully his subject matter, in this case Istanbul, and his own photographic virtuosity. His framing of busy street scenes, full of elements in motion is second to none.

TURKEY. Istanbul. 2005. Along the Bosporus © Alex Webb/Magnum Photos

02 Bruno Quinquet is a quiet Frenchman working in Tokyo, for the last four years he has been photographing the anonymous suits of corporate Tokyo for his Salaryman project. The candidly made images use various devices to avoid identifying the various businessmen he photographs, Bruno’s way of commenting on the increasing constraints being applied to candid portraiture and street photography.

Akabane - Nihonbbashi, from the series Salaryman Project by Bruno Quinquet

03 In 2009 Zhang Xiao left his job as a photographer at the Chongqing Morning Post to photograph the 18,000 km of China’s coastline. Xiao says the sea is ‘a place of strong emotions and rich imagery, it is the beginning of lives and dreams’. Shooting on film and hand printing in muted tones Xiao’s pictures have the feeling of aged images of the past but when one looks closer their subjects reflect the quickly changing China of today. This picture is typical of the quiet and the spiritual that pervade his beautiful images.

Coastline No 20 by Zhang Xiao

04 Glasgow born Dougie Wallace now lives in the East End of London but his pictures tend to be made on his regular travels across Europe and beyond. This image is from his series ‘Reflections on Life’ in which Dougie has photographed commuters on trams in cities including Sarajevo, Ukraine and Albania. The pictures blend beautifully the internal and external worlds, tram passengers are melded with the passing scenery and architecture. I admire his fearless approach in photographing strangers so closely through the glass.

Dougie Wallace

05 Garry Winogrand died in 1984 leaving behind nearly 300,000 unedited images and 2500 unprocessed rolls of film, most of this now held by The Centre for Creative Photography in Arizona. Shooting in New York and America during what is considered to be the ‘Golden Age’ of street photography between the late 1950’s and the 1980’s, the vast majority of Winogrands work was made in black and white.
The Format festival were able to obtain a selection of rare unseen colour images that were edited for the festival by Joel Meyerowitz. These images speak to me of a less self conscious and more naive time, a time when maybe identical twins still dressed a like.

Early Colour work (1958-1964) by Garry Winogrand ©Estate of Garry Winogrand

06 Joel Meyerowitz is a legend for many of the current generation of street photographers, he has a generosity of personality that is evident both in meeting him in person and in viewing his pictures. There is a lust for life and it’s unexpected richness that is evident in his images. He was an early pioneer of colour street photography and has championed the medium for many decades. Joel was co author of the street photography bible ‘Bystander’ that was published in 1994 and has been a huge support and influence on my own street shooting and that of my colleagues. I chose this image because it symbolises for me the energy and joy for life that Joel Meyerowitz still has now in his 70’s.

From the Car, New York State Thruway, 1974 by Joel Meyerowitz

07 In January 2010 I bought a book on a whim from a small Tokyo bookstore called ‘Citizens’, when it arrived I was delighted by my little gamble. The book contained some of the best contemporary street photography I had seen by a virtually unknown Japanese street photographer called Jun Abe. I took the liberty of scanning some of the work and posting it online which caused a huge stir as, for many, it was the first time his work had been seen outside of Japan. Over the subsequent year Jun’s work has gained a great deal of respect and the Format Festival gave him his first public exhibition in the West.

From 'Citizens' by Abe Jun

08 Between August and December 2008 Frederic Lezmi travelled between Vienna and Beirut, a journey from The West to The Orient, the resulting photographs explore where one ends and the other begins. The project was published as the striking book ‘Beyond Borders’ which unfolds to a length of 11 meters and was displayed in its entirety on the gallery wall at Format. This lovely image of a cleaning lady taken through a net curtain has always been a favourite of mine, the photographer looking from the street into a private world unseen by his subject. The outside world is reflected in the glass while she herself is reflected in the mirror she cleans, all rendered in a subtle palette of pastel colours. Frederic has elevated a simple cleaning lady into a classical thing of beauty.

From 'Beyond Borders' by Frederic Lezmi

09 The Slovakian photographer Martin Kollar is a favourite of mine from the current generation of street photographers, his quirky moments from off beat local cultural events around Eastern Europe were published in the book ‘Nothing Special’. Kollar manages to create a series of images of surreally unconnected scenes that are held beautifully together under the umbrella of his own strong personal vision, a trick that many street photographers fail to achieve. The result is that each image stands wonderfully on its own, containing its own narrative while also being one element of the whole series and book.

Martin Kollar, from the series Nothing Special

10 The in-public international street photographers group has played a significant role in promoting street photography since it’s formation in 2000, the group displayed over 60 images at the Format Festival alongside a documentary film following it’s members on the streets of New York, London, Rotterdam and Melbourne. The group has three Australian members and I have chosen to include this image from Adelaide based Narelle Autio. Many of Narelle’s images feature the beach or the Ocean and take advantage of the extraordinary Australian light, her heightened sense of colour often makes the images resemble early colour postcards.

Spotty Dog, Narelle Autio.

The Format Festival will return with a new theme in 2012 but if your appetite for street photography has been stimulated, you can see more at a number of events this year.
The Museum of London’s ‘London Street Photography’ show is on until the 4th September and The London Street Photography Festival runs between 7th and 17th July around Kings Cross.




Garry Winogrand unseen Colour

Most of you will be familiar with the extraordinary talent that was Garry Winogrand, a street photographer renowned for his portrayal of mid-20th century America who died in 1984. Winogrand has been an enormous influence on subsequent generations of street photographers and there is now, understandably, a renewed interest in his work. Winogrand is very much associated with black and white street photography but a large body of colour work does exist from the period 1958-1964 but is very difficult to locate.

Single colour street images by Winogrand have tantalisingly appeared here and there, the first picture below from 1963 was published in Bystander but the subsequent images have largely never before been published as far as I am aware. So it is with great pleasure that I am able to present them here on sevensevennine.com.

In Bystander Joel Meyerowitz says that…

“Garry also shot a lot of color, but on assignment and on trips and things like that. He didn’t see it as a major force”

When I asked Joel to elaborate a little on what Garry’s relationship with colour was, this is what he said…

“Garry was comfortable with color and didn’t have any strong feelings against it. I think he used it mainly for his commercial work as he often carried a Nikon with a long lens on it to make what he called “schmaltz” which means in Yiddish, fatty, or sentimental, or sweet, overripe…etc. For example, violinists who play at weddings usually render “schmaltzy versions of love songs.” But he also was carrying a second Leica with color in it and he loved showing slide shows of that work, once even showing it at MoMA when John did a show of Garry’s work. My guess is that since the times didn’t support color printing very easily he simply didn’t see any reason to emphasize it then. perhaps if color printing was as it is today he would have been thinking in those terms more frequently, but who knows?”

Many thanks to those who assisted me in acquiring these images, I think it is historically important that they are available to excite and influence those of us continuing to work like Garry Winogrand today.

copyright Garry Winogrand

copyright Garry Winogrand

copyright Garry Winogrand

copyright Garry Winogrand

copyright Garry Winogrand

copyright Garry Winogrand

copyright Garry Winogrand

copyright Garry Winogrand

copyright Garry Winogrand

copyright Garry Winogrand

copyright Garry Winogrand

copyright Garry Winogrand

copyright Garry Winogrand

copyright Garry Winogrand

copyright Garry Winogrand

copyright Garry Winogrand

copyright Garry Winogrand

copyright Garry Winogrand

copyright Garry Winogrand

copyright Garry Winogrand

A Selection of Garry Winogrand’s Colour images can be seen at The QUAD Gallery at The Format International Photography Festival in Derby until the 8th May.

Meyerowitz 1981

This film has been posted on in-public for a couple of weeks and dates from 1981. Filmmaker Robert Gilberg followed Joel Meyerowitz and writer/curator Colin Westerbeck on the streets of Manhattan as they discussed street photography and Joel’s photographic practice. The film was never shown until now and was only rediscovered on Gilbert’s death. I’m enormously grateful to Joel for allowing us to give it an audience now.


I’m sure many of you are aware of the forthcoming FORMAT 11 International Photo Festival taking place in Derby between the 4th March and the 3rd April 2011. The theme of this years festival is Street Photography with the title ‘Right Here, Right Now: Exposures from the Public Realm’. The Street Photographers group in-public will be exhibiting over 60 prints at the Derby Art Gallery and Museum along with a documentary film I have made over the last few months. The film has taken me to the streets of London and New York whilst my second camera person Marieke De Bra has filmed in Rotterdam and Melbourne.

The aim of the film has been to show the members of in-public making their photographs on the street with no models, no posing, no flash…in fact no intervention of any kind if at all possible. In a festival with such an all encompassing view of Street Photography as FORMAT, I was very keen to use in-public’s gallery space to demonstrate the continued importance of creating a candid record of modern life and the importance of the moment at a time when literally un momentous photography is the fashion. In filming ‘in-sight’ I have used miniature HD cameras to ride along on the hotshoe of the Street Photographers camera giving an intimate view of the picture making process.

The film will be shown first at FORMAT and then perhaps online in some fashion but that has still to be discussed and agreed with all concerned, in the meantime, here is a trailer to wet your appetite and give you a sense of what’s in store.

On the 4th March I will be speaking about the ‘Inspiration of Street Photography’ at the Format Photography Conference, along with Bruce Gilden, Amy Stein, John Maloof, Michael Wolf, Yumi Goto, Sophie Howarth and others.

On the 5th March I will be doing Portfolio reviews and would love to see and discuss your own Street Photography.

Kickstarting Vivian Maier

Most of you will now be aware of the extraordinary archive of photographs by Vivian Maier acquired at a furniture and antique auction by John Maloof in Chicago. Around 100,000 negatives mostly from the 1960’s and 1970’s are being scanned by John who is working extremely hard to make Vivian Maiers images available online. The work is now to be made available as a book and John is also seeking funding for a documentary film through the Kickstarter platform.

Having met John in London last year I know that he feels the burden of responsibility for sensitively disseminating this wonderful work, he asks himself if it is even something that Vivian, an intensely private person by all accounts, would have wanted. It was also apparent that Vivian’s work could not have fallen into safer hands and that his careful approach to producing a book, exhibition and now film will ensure their success.

Vivian Maier’s work is a joy to see, its a revealing window into another time as well as this eccentric and independent woman herself.

Please support John in his work and help fund this wonderful film project.

Watching the ball, missing the game.

fleeing mugger as an example of a picture that was made so quickly that I only knew that 'something' was happening when I pushed the shutter. I have also written about the blinkers one wears when out on the street shooting a project or subject, the loss of openness to all comers, the way the brain intervenes and you lose that 'mugger catching' instinct.

I recently came across an amusing demonstration of the way the brain misses things when it is engaged in looking for something else, how distracted it becomes by the task, the subject....at the cost of general awareness and openness.

China Between

in-public launched its 10 book at Photofusion, Polly Braden was launching her book China Between at The Photographers Gallery. Polly kindly sent me a copy of the book that is published by Dewi Lewis and contains 63 color photographs taken by Polly over a decade in China. The book also contains texts by Pollys husband David Campany who is reader in Photography at the University of Westminster and by Jennifer Higgie who is co-editor of the London-based contemporary arts magazine, Frieze. The book has some connection with The Arts Council of England but it is not clear what that is.

The hardback book is traditionally but nicely designed and the image reproduction is very good. The covers feature the faces of two of the women in Pollys photographs painted by Tim Braden, it is not immediately apparent how this is relevant to the contents or aims of the book though.

The painted cover of China Between by Polly Braden[/caption]

China Between are self contained, they require the company of the others and the book format to work. This feeling is starkly illustrated when you do turn the page and come across one of the gems that are certainly hidden in the book, 'Night walk, Xiamen, September 2007' shows an elderly woman walking with a stick, her arm appears to be bandaged and in a sling as she passes down a very contemporary looking, recently constructed, shopping street. She is framed beautifully by the lighting and a dark area of wet road that almost holds her in place, she seems to be contemplating the crossing of this simple barrier to her journey. One imagines this neighborhood has changed dramatically during her lifetime and she seems out of time with the western dresses in the shop windows beside her. Life seems hard for her as she carries both her groceries and walking stick in her remaining good hand.

Night walk, Xiamen, September 2007.[/caption]

Xiamen, August 2007[/caption]

This image of a young woman on a mobile telephone is another good example, its composed, the play of scale works nicely, she is diminutive in the frame beneath a large tree and wall. Behind her is a view through the wall to the street beyond, she squats, her hands to her temples in concentration. You sense she has sought out this quiet spot amongst the oppressive noise of the city to make her call, the shot conveys its message beautifully, there is no need to flick to the index and read the caption.

Restaurant staff gather for a pep talk, Xiamen, July 2007[/caption]

"Modern streets have a particular way of registering transition. They belong neither to 'home' nor to 'work'. They are communal and yet official, very public but private too. The street is where little truths point to larger ones if you can attune yourself. The way human bodies tell of the conditions of work. The way faces carry or attempt to mask history. The way the very fabric of the street attests to the pace of things. The way signs, clothes and even moods are the result of minor and major forces"

City of a Hundred Names. If you are interested in China and its extraordinary development and change and what that looks like at street level rather than in photographs of its grand industrial projects then you will enjoy China Between. I bought Alex Webb's Istanbul book as much for his photographic dexterity and vocabulary as I did to see what Istanbul was like. For me at least China Between is a book about China rather than a book about photographs of China but in that context it is very successful.

China Between is available to buy on Pollys site.