2013

Happy New Year! Here is my year-end round-up of photos- a mixture of work and personal photos- digital and film- along with a few instagrams.

On Assignment- Doggies

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I found myself asking “Can I have a dog section in my online portfolio?” The answer was a resounding no that echoed in my head. While the practical side of me says I should have serious images on my site, the rest of me says “But they’re sooo cute!” I have compromised by doing a blog post about my canine friends. Every single one of these images were taken on the job. I photograph Guide Dogs a lot and also a lot of rescue dogs (see the last four images) like these guys here from the RSPCA in Martlesham Heath.

I have a soft spot of Staffies as they tend to be the biggest breed in rescue centres and not many people are willing to give them a chance. I can say from experience that they are definitely an energetic breed, in need of a lot of exercise, but they are loving too. It’s not their fault for their bad rep, but it’s the evil people that get them for status and train them to be aggressive.

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Assignment of the Week- Abseiling Town Hall

This is a bit of a belated AOTW but it was an amazing experience for me.

I went to photograph the mayor of Colchester abseiling down Town Hall for the East Anglia’s Children Hospice. I had been told the event was happening on Saturday so I was there by 9:30am only to find out that it was, in fact, on Sunday- Thanks reporter!

I returned the next day and I asked to take photos from the top of town hall 100 feet up in the air. The guys from Creation Climbing Centre had to strap me in so that I could lean over the side to photograph the crowd below.

After I had gotten the shots, I was waiting for the mayor who was running a little late. The climbing guys told me if I wanted to go down the quickest way was to climb down the facade. Without hesitation I said “YES!” and proceeded to learn how to do i while passing my camera gear off to one of the men in charge.

I have never done anything like this before but I always jump at opportunites to give me different perspectives on things. There was a moment when I was about to start leaning over the side of the building that I questioned my decision but it was too late to turn back so down I went.

I thought I had to keep my feet on the building and when I came down a very large and scary  ledge my feet came away and my shoulder hit the building while the crowd collectively sucked in a breath. But I’m alive and I did it before the mayor!

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Cambridge & Dedham- On a Roll

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Last year my husband and I visited Cambridge for the first time to meet with friends and I bought this roll of T-Max film at a small shop there. Then sometime in Spring we ventured to Dedham in the heart of Constable Country where we took a long walk along the river Stour and I got to meet some new friends. These were shot with my Nikon FM2, a handy camera from the 80′s that I take with me when I don’t want to carry a lot of gear.

Felixstowe- On a Roll

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I captured a recent trek to Felixstowe with my Hasselblad and then handprinted the t-max film.

Angus McBean

Angus McBean and his Beatles photo

A substantial portfolio of work by photographer Angus McBean will be auctioned off next month in Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk.

The collection contains images of famous and noteworthy people including screen legends Marlene Dietrich, Vivien Leigh, Katharine Hepburn (my personal favourite) and Laurence Olivier, as well as musicians Shirley Bassey and the Beatles, who used McBean’s photo for their first album ‘Please Please Me’ in 1963.

Along with the photographs, a visitor book containing more than 1,000 signatures of visitors to McBean’s studio will be sold, making some autograph collector extremely happy (seriously, TS Eliot and Agatha Christie both signed his book).

McBean began his career designing scenery and creating masks for theatrical productions before he began to pursue photography. He opened his studio in 1935 and the work he produced was influenced by the Surrealist movement of the twenties. McBean soon became known for his dramatic and often exaggerated photographs.

After photographing British theatre stars from his roles as official photographer for the Royal Opera House and the Old Vic, McBean retired to Debenham to open an antique business, though he came out of retirement for a few years before he died in 1990.

I hadn’t heard of McBean until I saw this piece about him in our paper last month. I quickly went online and looked through his images. I quickly fell in love with McBean. It wasn’t his theatre photographs that did it, or his photograph of starlets or even the Beatles. Instead, it was his self-portrait Christmas cards- especially the one where he is dressed as Neptune from 1938. I also loved McBean’s 1950 Christmas card featuring him in a fish tank using simple trickery, but impressive for the time.

The auction, by Lacy Scott and Knight in Bury St Edmunds, will be held on 12 April, with the collection being sold in 200-300 different lots.

Assignment of the Week- Sally the Seal

I started my proper Friday (that means I don’t have to work the weekend) by heading out to Harwich, which is right on the coast. New York has the Holland Tunnel, Harwich as the Holland Ferry!! Seriously it only takes about six hours and you could be driving past tulip fields and windmills.

I was sent to the Quay (in the UK its pronounced Key and is a pier or a wharf) to photograph the RSPB’s (that’s the Royal Society for Protection of Birds) Barge to Birds trip. Bird watchers got to board a 117 year-old barge called Victor and view the wildlife on the Stour Estuary.

Unfortunately I didn’t have a whole day to spend on the barge so I got there early to shoot people on the pier watching for the barge and then its arrival. Someone informed me that a fisherman was feeding a seal and me being a sucker for sea mammals put on my long lens to take some shots.

After Victor set sail I headed over to the boat moored by the steps up to the pier and I introduced myself to James and Ray who were the fishermen feeding Sally the Seal, who is a regular visitor to the Quay.

Sally the Seal at Harwich QuayThey offered to let me try my hand at seal feeder and I correctly asked “permission to board,” which impressed them by my knowledge of sea conduct (or my knowledge of cliche sea terminology from over watching TV).

I love seeing wildlife in their natural habitats, like Fred the tortoise in my mom’s back yard, or the alligator that lived in the fenced in pond in front of my high school (yes I’m serious).

They said they hadn’t had a good few days out because of the weather, but that didn’t them from filling Sally’s stomach. She was so full up, they said, that she started being picky about which kind of fish she ate letting the others drift to the bottom of the quay.

You could see the look of disinterest in her eyes when the guys offered her something she didn’t want. It was incredibly amusing and by far my favorite assignment (well it wasn’t actaully my assignment but I wouldn’t of been there if it hadn’t of been for my assignment) of the week.

Assignment of the Week- An Olympian & me

Last week I was assigned to photograph the opening of a new child and adolescent mental health centre in Colchester. It was like most opening ceremonies with a plaque hidden behind a curtain waiting to be unveiled, a room full of local dignitaries chatting with local business people and several members of the press on their smart phones figuring out what’s next.

Standard right? Yes until British Olympian Rebecca Adlington walks in. Of course we knew she’d be there because any good p.r. department loves to capitalize the exposure a high-profile individual brings. She didn’t have any connection to the centre itself, but her sister’s harrowing near-death experience when she contracted Encephalitis when she was only 17 years-old. (Coincidentally, this is the disease that killed several people in and around my hometown in the nineties. It was carried by mosquitoes, which ruined a Halloween because of a curfew to avoid the nights when the critters are the worst.)

Rebecca was quite sweet and seemed shy but undaunted by the cameras. Our little crowd must be like nothing after the coverage she had this summer. After she and the centre’s namesake drew open the curtain and posed with the plaque, she was whisked into a room down a long secure hallway and the pressed queued outside for an interview.

My reporter had already asked me to take her photo while she interviewed Rebecca so I clicked away in the room as three men stood behind us a bit awkwardly. We found out that it was Rebecca’s first time in Essex (insert fake tan jokes here).

I felt like a nerd but I asked Aimee the reporter to then take my photo with Rebecca and Rebecca was really sweet about it. I even told her it was going on my blog! OH what a geek I am! So now I’ve kept my promise and here is my brush with an Olympian.

PHLINKS- Photos of a dying man, more iPhoneography & talented bearded men

{Winters & Offerman have more in common than just facial hair}

This profile on photographer Dan Winters is the best of both worlds. The images are so stunningly simple yet the complexity of the subject is intense as Winters captures beauty in grittiness. The author is Nick Offerman, the mustachioed star of Parks and Recreation and woodworker extraordinaire who talks about his friendship with Winters and explains his work like this:

“Dan’s portraits of human beings, from anonymous citizens to luminaries, are deceptively simple renderings of personality and nuance. They are pregnant with pathos. I’ve never seen photos of celebrities that made them seem like such, well, human beings.”

 

{To publish images of a dying American Ambassador or not}

Ambassador Christopher Stevens

The U.S. Ambassador to Libya was killed last week amid protests about a blasphemous You Tube film. Half a dozen newspapers including the L.A. Times published a graphic photograph on Sept. 13 of the Ambassador either dead or dying after a terrorist attack on the American consulate in Benghazi. The New York Times took the stance against publishing the photograph on its front page. The use of this image has sparked ethical debates across the photojournalism world for good reason. Here is a link to the NPPA’s ethical discussion.

What would you do if you were in their shoes and had to decide whether to publish or not? I find this photograph shameful and degrading. Not for the photographer. He was doing his job documenting the attack. But for the editors, I think you can show other images to illustrate the terrorist attack. This feels so private that if I were this man’s family I would be devastated to see my loved one dying like that and knowing that people eating their breakfast around the country are seeing it too.

 

{IPhone Photography Masterclass. Really?}

IPhoneography is great. It is. It’s a fun way of sharing your photos quickly with friends. Over the past year I’ve really come around to iPhoneography and Instagram is now a common part of my social media usage. But taking a masterclass in iPhone Photography “by three of the UK’s leading iPhone photographers” seems really unnecessary.

The thing that makes iPhonegraphy what it is is the spontaneity of it and the joy of making something you see in your day into an artistic expression. If you have an iPhone and a set of eyes, then you don’t need to take a class on it creating these images. (For the record I am still against the use of iPhones in the professional world.)

 

{NYT photographer James Estrin on iPhoneography}

This article is a continuation of the previous iPhoneography topic and it succinctly discusses the pervasive prevalence of iPhones by non-professionals.

“Almost everyone has a camera and is a photographer. Just as access to pens and paper hasn’t produced thousands of Shakespeares or Nabokovs, this explosion of camera phones doesn’t seem to have led to more Dorothea Langes or Henri Cartier-Bressons. But it has certainly led to many more images of what people ate at lunch.”

 

{Fired employees don’t make for good Kodak moments}

Bankruptcy will force the Eastman Kodak Company to make 1.000 more jobs redundant by the end of 2012 with more cuts expected next year. Kodak is was the first company to produce a digital camera, which was so bulky you need a suitcase to carry it, but they never kept up with their competitors.

The company was hoping to sell more than 1,000 patents to raise money to pay to avoid bankruptcy but instead of the $2.6 billion they were expected, less than $500 million was put up by investors that included Google and Apple. It seems that company won’t be around much longer so they should cherish their Kodak moments.

Assignment of the Week- Nuclear fisherman

Just along from the Sizewell nuclear power station the road dead ends at Sizewell Gap, a tiny fishing village that was ideal for smuggling two centuries ago. The Coast guard had a base and living cottages on the gap to deter smugglers, which are now havens for artistic types. The power plant looks down on the gap from a cliff where a mansion used to dominate over the beach and a guest accommodation called the Gap House. The mansion was torn down to make way for Sizewell A in the early 70’s but the Gap House remains and has since had neighboring homes attached.

The Gap House has been home to a fisherman named Noel for over fifty years. Noel wakes up every morning at six and takes out his blue fishing boat that usually is pulled up on shore with a few other boats. He comes back ashore around ten with his catches of the day, which he then prepares and sells from his house. He doesn’t advertise because he doesn’t need to and he does pretty well for himself. He likes the power plant because it keeps the village small. He wouldn’t want it to turn in to another Aldeburgh or Southwold.

I photographed Noel for an assignment called “In the shadow of Sizewell.” He was very comfortable in front of the camera and I really enjoyed photographing him on his boat. I wanted to stay longer; I wanted to follow his fishing day with my lens. But we don’t get that opportunity at my paper. Where I would have been encouraged to follow any story at papers in the states, here I’m expected to take only the photos the reporters ask for and usually only a fraction of those get used. It’s a frustrating system but I do get to photograph a lot of amazing people so for that I am grateful.

Unfortunately I can’t show any of my photos I took on that day but I shall provide a link as soon as they are published in the paper.

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