diminishing returns

I’ve decided it’s time to call an end to the business of picture framing.

I’ve been considering for a couple of years now, as profits have been sliding from black to red. Hard to pinpoint a single reason, and I’m certainly not laying it all at Covid’s door, although that’s undoubtedly had an adverse impact this year. It’s become the classic “rock and a hard place” situation. Not enough work to make it profitable, but having a full-time job too, drumming up more custom would leave me working long, long hours, and I’m afraid I’m no longer young enough for that to be an appealing option.

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the new leisure?

“What is this life if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare”

It seems that for many, time to stand and stare is now plentiful, but maybe there’s precious little to stare at. Social distancing and isolation may be entirely necessary at this time, but it can feel, well, isolating… even for those of us lucky enough to have a garden, standing and staring at the same familiar surroundings as the days draw into weeks can be frustrating to the creative mind.

The internet is awash with articles listing “things to do” during the lock-down to keep busy, creative and prevent the dreaded cabin-fever, so I don’t think I have much to add… I’m sure you’re all intelligent people and have your own ideas on how to pass the time.

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updating my firmware?

I’ve always been pretty firm in my resistance to the seemingly unstoppable charge of digital photography. The “digital revolution” has been an inarguable success, but the takeover has not been total. The brave new digital world has been benevolent enough to leave room for those of us with gelatine hearts and analogue souls.

A brief search of YouTube finds a huge number of analogue shooters extolling the virtues of film in all formats.

Personally, I love my old film cameras. They’re tactile. They look great, and they feel great, and I can choose between multiple formats dependant on what I want to shoot or how I want to shoot it. It’s great to have a choice, and that choice extends to film or digital.

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assignment

Life is busy, and I don’t have as much time as I’d like to devote to personal photography, so when I do, I’ve always thought that I should do what I like to do… not work to someone else’s agenda… shoot for myself alone. But now, I’m beginning to think that rather than providing artistic freedom, that may be an attitude that may begin to stymie creativity. Maybe the “everything in moderation” approach that seems to serve me well in other areas should be applied, and the occasional assignment to a specific brief will help to keep the photography fresh and interesting. So, thanks to those lovely people at the sunny 16 podcast I recently embarked on an assignment on the theme of “day into night”.

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it’s all in the mind

“The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize.” ― Robert Hughes

I imagine many of us occasionally have those feelings that we’re out of our depth, that we don’t know what we’re doing, or we’re out of control and being carried along against our will or judgement. Most of the time these feelings are momentary. We attempt to regain control and move on, but what happens to our creativity during these periods of doubt? And what if those periods are not fleeting, but consistent, long term and debilitating?
Following on from the previous post which described the darkness that Don McCullin feels from his years of bearing witness to the worst of humanity, and how those dark feelings are alleviated, just a little, by photographing the land, or creating classical still life compositions, I wanted to explore a little more the idea of how our mental state might affect, and be affected by, our photography.

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Don McCullin at the Tate

I always feel a little irked when a museum or gallery levies a charge to enter certain areas of an otherwise free to enter establishment. It irritates, probably more than it should, especially when the entry fee feels excessive, and for the same reasons that I won’t pay inflated “event” parking charges at the O2, or use the public lavatories at London Victoria train station, I’ve occasionally dropped plans to take in an exhibition due to what, to me at least, appears to border on profiteering by the venue.


Now, I have no problem with a venue covering its costs with a nominal entry fee. A well known “name” showing in a well known setting may well see me parting with a tenner to get through the door, but I work long and hard for a moderate salary, so I want value, and that includes the cost of getting to and from the venue.

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framing – the bespoke option

A very old friend returned earlier this year from a break in beautiful Dorset with a couple of large photo prints and some very definite ideas on how he wanted to display them.

He explained the kind of look he had in mind, and we scoured the moulding catalogues trying to find something that matched his vision.

Rustic. Distressed. Driftwood. These were the keywords to the search, but nothing we found really made an impression. That’s not to say there isn’t a whole load of perfectly nice mouldings to be found, just that none really hit the sweet spot. Some came close, but none were the “Goldilocks” just right moulding.

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playing with panoramas

I’m a big fan of square photos, it’s long been my favourite format, but I’m increasingly finding that there’s something about the panoramic format that appeals to me. 

You may have read my earlier post about my first foray into pinhole photography. It’s no accident that my self-built pinhole camera utilises the panoramic format.

I’ve long fancied getting my hands on a nice Hasselblad x-pan and a couple of lenses, but my wallet just won’t stretch to that, so my little wooden “x-pin” is as close as I’ll get for the foreseeable future. 

Now, I know that digital technology makes creating big panoramas relatively easy by stitching multiple images together, but really, if you’ve read anything on this blog you’ll know that’s just not me.  The mere thought of spending that long at a computer screen puts me in a cold sweat. It’s not a facet of photography that I will ever enjoy, so I’ll leave it to those who do. I will concede though, to a brief dalliance with panoramic cropping. It’s quick and easy, and can sometimes throw up an intriguing composition. Continue reading “playing with panoramas”