I scour the net for mention of Photo London yet there does not seem to be much in the news!
One website, L’Oeil de la Photographie, talks about the over-consumption of images this event encourages and also points out that galleries struggle to survive in cities like London and New York as well as these days of the Internet so this event gives them much needed support. There is also an interview with the festival organisers, Michael Benson and Fariba Fershad, who talk about the success of the event in terms of the stimulus it gives to the photography market. Many galleries did well and more are back this year paying costs of around £350 to 500 per square metre.
Don McCullin is featured in The Guardian and quoted as saying photography is more about feeling than merely looking, an interesting insight into the craft. He is honoured by Photo London 2016 as a master of photography. A wonderful photo from 1965 of sheep being herded down the Caledonian Road.
Mary Mc Artney, daughter of famous photographer Linda McArtney, wife of the incredibly famous and much loved Beatle, Paul McArtney; her famous background might not have helped but a mother who photographed probably did! She did a 5 day course in the basics of technique at University of Westminster. Her approach is spontaneous, she is not interested in making incredibly sharp images! She did not do a degree since those she met who had said that while they found the space helpful to consider photography, it was not otherwise much help.
Erik Kessels I have heard before and find his view of photography humourous! He is promoting a book #FailedIt which reveals some hilarious images. Are they photoshopped? Apparently, they are genuine mistakes and amusing unintentional double exposures. Appalling photos of black dogs the subject of another book.
Also talking on this theme are an American, Lucas, who does use Photoshop and Joachim Scmidt who makes books of other people’s mistakes, a body of work that has now reached 96 different books.
There is a need for humour and playfulness in photography says Kessels.
Again, after the talk we are sheparded out, and have to queue outside for the next talk. I guess this is about security since surely they could check the tickets of those who wanted to stay on with relative ease. However, on the way out, I see a room in which magnums of champagne stand in ice and am reminded of the fact that some people are welcome here, I just don’t happen to be one of them. As a student one often encounters the nicer side of photography while here at Photo London it is more about the backside!?
The next speaker is Don McCullin who Simon Barber from Tate Modern describes as needing no introduction! McCullin comes over as a very courageous man who has witnessed a lot of horrible events which he however managed to photograph. I have mentioned him before so won’t repeat myself as he did in his talk, telling us the same story twice about a recent trip to Palmrya to rephotograph the temple destroyed by Isis. He was not able to gain access and although he managed a single photo, he was soon shooed away by a Russian soldier so that his journey of a few thousand miles was largely frustrated one but such are the tribulations of photography.
After the talk, I breath a sigh of relief at it being the last to attend for the day since the room is stuffy and I did not enjoy the queueing ritual. Instead, I make my way to the photography book section where I meet OCA tutor Helen Warburton who is behind the counter at Thames and Hudson. I mention my incredulity at fellow OCA students making derogatory remarks about McCullin on a forum currently running; she replies that McCullin has a reputation for old fashioned views in particular towards women though she has never heard him talk. I buy a couple of books, one by Harry Gruyaert, whose work I saw recently at the Print Room at Magnum Photos as well as a book on better writing about photography or at least art which Helen has found helpful.
At Dewi Lewis Publishing, I finally get to purchase a copy of Love on the Left Bank which I have wanted awhile. It is a reprint of a classic Photobook and I am reminded that my choice of Photobooks is somewhat at odds with the kind of photography I do. In fact, I aspire to other kinds of work but have not met with sympathetic response from tutors and fellow students!
Another publisher, Damien is selling copies of books by Hiroshi Sugimoto including the book of dioramas that he made. I saw and blogged about the exhibition but the book is a signed copy and hence rather expensive. The publisher seems ready to give me a discount and so I shall consider it!
I go down the steps to Hamilton’s Gallery where Don McCullin’s photographs are on show but get refused entry because I am carrying a bag!? My second attempt to see his work.
On the terrace, I enjoy a vegetable pie at Real Food and follow it with a cup of tea (plain and ordinary nothing fancy like green tea here!) Susie Parr is serving. Jem Southam is sitting at a table in conversation with someone so I decide not to bother him but would like a chat if he is still around later.
I wander through a few galleries (bag allowed) and start to get a feeling for Photo London (there is a lot of good work on show) and am impressed by Nick Brandt whose black and white work of animals juxtaposed with third world poverty feature on the walls. He will be in on Sunday to sign copies of his reasonably priced book. I shall try and attend!
Before leaving, I meet Harry Gruyaert, Belgian Magnum photographer, who signs a copy of his book of colour photographs. He is from Antwerp which I have visited a couple of times to see the Photo Museum there. He has a large exhibition planned for next year or possibly the year after to be held there.