photography inspiration

fLIPin Heck! That was a good week for photography

Hobnobbing with Martin Parr, Brian Griffin, and Bruce Gilden

Hobnobbing with Martin Parr, Brian Griffin, and Bruce Gilden

Earlier this year I became Editor of fLIP magazine which aims to provide readers with a broad dialogue concerning photography. It includes an informative Events listing and each edition has an overarching theme, the next of which is Nomadic.  The magazine is produced three times a year by London Independent Photography, who are currently celebrating their thirtieth year. Though primarily a showcase for members work, submissions are welcome from all photographers, worldwide.

Last week in London was awash with all things photography. Here's what I did:

Wednesday started with a breakfast invitation for Surface Tension, curated by Cheryl Newman and held at the Magic Gallery, underneath Charing Cross Station. A group show from members of both LIP and The Royal Photographic Society: it was well orchestrated, with some clever hanging devices - my favourite being an abstract flock of birds by Pennie Dixie printed onto a large piece of vinyl and hung from the ceiling. 

Within minutes of arriving I was offered a croissant and a choice of beverages - I kickstarted the morning with a Black Velvet, which was new on me - Guinness and Champagne. Nice!

Magic Gallery.jpg

From here, I hot-footed it along the Strand to Somerset House.  Photo London was about to kick off, and fLIP's designer, Anita Chandra and myself attended a 10am Press Call. We had a welcome and introduction to Photo London which is now in it's fourth year from the founders and directors, as well as from Jonathan Reekie, the director of Somerset House.

They say that "the fourth edition of Photo London celebrates the power of photography to profoundly alter the way in which we see things". There was a lot of new and expansive work, as well as some iconic images, held by famous galleries and sold for tens of thousands of pounds.

This year's fair included over one hundred galleries from eighteen different countries, but since attending the last three shows I still haven't shaken off my bittersweet reaction when I first walk in: with a £30 entrance fee, it feels a little exclusive.  However, once you're over the heavily coiffured and immaculately dressed there is so much photography to feast your eyes on, and of course I welcome sales and promotion of photography as an art-form. 

After the press call which included an on-stage informal discussion between Edward Burtynsky ( I liked when he said "we are experiencing a renaissance of lens based art") and Es Devlin we headed to the show proper. We split for an hour to look at work, and discussed our favourites after hooking up: Anita was drawn especially to a lot of the American Artists showing great vistas and American culture, whilst I was time and again pulled in by the work of Japanese photographers.  I learned of Provoke Magazine, which was a short-lived production from the late 1960's, comprising a small group of critics, photographers and writers. Anita and I were both a little smitten by the work of Anja Niemi, represented by a rather dismissive pair from Little Black Gallery. The artist stages and performs all of her own shots, and her current work She Could have been a Cowboy is a delight.

Bruce Gilden's images are scary enough on Instagram, so to see these faces, with their teenage acne and scars in mega scale was powerful. Images from Gilden's latest work  Farm Boys & Farm Girls USA

Bruce Gilden's images are scary enough on Instagram, so to see these faces, with their teenage acne and scars in mega scale was powerful. Images from Gilden's latest work Farm Boys & Farm Girls USA

On Thursday I made a quick visit back to Photo London to see Bruce Gilden's work, and The Photography on a Postcard display. So there I am wandering in one of the new galleries and I spot Brian Griffin having a cup of tea. I went to say Hi, and realised he was in deep conversation with Martin Parr. As I looked around I saw a friend of mine and Brian's, Lizzie Brown, who is Events coordinator of LIP. She was there with her husband, so I sat down for a catch up. In walks Bruce Gilden, who was about to do a book signing, and that was when I realised this was too good an opportunity to miss, so thanks to being acquainted with Brian, I introduced myself and the magazine, and Lizzie took the picture above! Serendipity at it's finest. 



Friday evening I headed to Peckham 24 which acts as a fringe event to tie-in with Photo London. In stark contrast to the palatial setting of Somerset House, this festival is on the streets, in the warehouses and all around. Peckham had my attention the moment I stepped out of the station. It was raw and alive with people sights and sounds. I've been hearing a lot about Peckham, so I'll be heading back to explore for sure. 

Bussey Building.jpg

There were several smaller venues holding exhibits, but I spent the evening across Copeland Park, a former industrial estate and the Bussey Building which used to be a cricket-bat factory. Just on the edge of the industrial estate were two dilapidated terraced houses that had been used to host Solid Liquid by Jo Dennis, and 'Overhaul' which featured collaborative works from Rhiannon Adam, Laura Pannack and Natasha Caruana. Clever methods of display added to the venues bare walls, lack of floorboards and bare electric sockets. A refreshing change.

'virtue is more infectious and contagious than vice' so says the mirror. Had a long and meandering conversation with this guy about Auras, crystals, photography and setting myself free! I then headed for the bar.

'virtue is more infectious and contagious than vice' so says the mirror. Had a long and meandering conversation with this guy about Auras, crystals, photography and setting myself free! I then headed for the bar.

Emma Bowkett curated My London in the Copeland Gallery - showcasing nine photographers that she had commissioned for the Financial Times Weekend Magazine over the past year. An eclectic mix of imagery in two large rooms full of dynamic young image-makers, and a few more established ones too!

Juno Calypso and friends.

Juno Calypso and friends.

With my appetite whetted, I thought I'd go for a final helping on Sunday!

Another Kind of Life Photography on the Margins showing at the Barbican until 27th May has been widely covered in the Press. It's a collection of works from twenty photographers, individually curated through a series of snaking rooms. This was more story-telling through pictures, across several decades, honing in on groups of individuals who may not fit social norms or have created their own worlds. Two of my favourite photographers were represented, Alec Soth and Daido Moriyama (again!). There is an abundance of work, so it's hard to reflect on all that I saw- kind of wish I bought the Show Book now.

I visited with a friend, who in fact was a large part of the frame-making arm of this exhibition. Very nice frames they were too!

Because of the content of some of the work, it seems odd to call them favourites, but in his approach to photographing some of the California street kids, Jim Goldberg's Raised by Wolves was very stirring. Including items of clothing, drawings and notes written by the teenagers he got to know so well as he followed their paths, sometimes to destruction.  


WANTED: Creative Headspace for Photographer

This blogpost was going to be called 'Keeping Inspired as a Photographer', then I realised, I have no problem keeping inspired, but I have a huge problem finding time to execute my ideas, and even worse, to really get 'involved' with them; to take them to the next level.

Life is a busy place; if you live in a city, even more so. Being a London Photographer means I am constantly given inspiration via all of my senses, whether that's from walking the streets, talking to the myriad people one meets or by participating in any number of cultural delights, be it eating great food, watching a live band or visiting an art gallery. 

Discovered Fenton House and Garden, a little gem hidden on the backstreets of Hampstead recently.

Discovered Fenton House and Garden, a little gem hidden on the backstreets of Hampstead recently.

Some years ago I had a conversation with a Psychotherapist I met at a business-networking event and she helped me write out a weekly timetable that factored in time to do 'fun' things like visiting galleries or taking some exercise. As far as I'm concerned, this stuff is essential to keeping an open-mind and triggering creative ideas. It may seem luxurious to visit a gallery on a Tuesday afternoon, but really it's a research and reconnaissance mission!

I still have access to that weekly timetable, which I print off when I want to focus on a few key targets in a given week. Beneath the tabled agenda are these words from Nicole, the Psychotherapist:

"Keep this flexible! Always keep in mind long-term goals, but work clearly and patiently.

Let the pressures and the 'shoulds' go. Do one thing at a time. Go slow - stops crashes!"

Since I've been attempting to live in a less-agitated state (must do, got to do, rush, rush, rush) I have found way more equilibrium and allowance for myself not to achieve everything I intended to do in a day. There really is a limit, in time, energy and efficiency when it comes to living an agreeable life in the twenty-first century.

I had a particularly wild summer this year in terms of external events and inward emotions. It was great, but I recognised the wisdom needed to kick in, and that something had to give. I don't want that something to be my sanity, so I eased my foot off the pedal and have been attempting to filter in more downtime. Of course there's still been lots of fun, and plenty of late nights, but that's been my bag for years, so I'm cool with that!

My favourite inspirational quote right now is Do Less Better. I remind myself of this quote regularly, as for me, it sings. I cannot accept every invitation, I cannot do all the things I would like if there were two of me, so I have to choose wisely what I agree to doing both inside and outside of my work. 

As we are in an age of the pursuit of self-discovery, another practice I have been honing is to hang around with people that inspire me. So instead of getting annoyed that your parents don't 'get' what you do (guilty) spend as much time with the people who do. I'd be nowhere without my peers and friends that allow me to do what I do without judging me...

People that understand why you're staying up until 2am because you have something you just need to complete, like this blog for example! Traversing London from one side to the other because you have to secure an item to execute an idea that's in your head. A little masochism goes a long way in the life of an artist, entrepreneur or madman!

As I only managed two days official holiday this year thanks to bad planning, I scheduled five 'me days' into my diary last week. That somehow turned into two very long days of catching up with admin and prop-shopping for a new personal project (talking of inspiration!) before spending two and a half days shooting said project!

What I had planned though was a day-trip to what has become a preferred bolthole of mine: Leigh-on-sea in Essex. It had got to around 11am and I needed to be back in London by 5pm to get home and ready for a Private View at the Printspace. I almost talked myself out of making the trip, but I am so glad I stuck to the plan!

Arriving at Chalkwell

Arriving at Chalkwell

I now had about three hours to explore, which involved some picture- taking along the beach, stopping for a salmon bagel, buying some sweets for use in my upcoming project - kinda knew that every seaside town has a Sweet Shop, and my piece de resistance - visiting the little gem of the Francesca Maffeo Gallery

On show was Alexander Missen's Q & A, a fascinating collection of images following Missen's journey across America, 'providing an examination of cultural symbolism and how the motifs we associate with America have affected the reality of place and people.'

Runs until 28th October.

Alexander Missen's Q & A at Francesca Maffeo Gallery, Chalkwell, ends 28th October.

Alexander Missen's Q & A at Francesca Maffeo Gallery, Chalkwell, ends 28th October.

There was an added bonus for me at the gallery, as in conversation, Francesca told me that the good folk of London Independent Photography had paid a visit, and there on the counter was one of my pictures representing the group on a recent promotional flyer!

Ed, representing!

Ed, representing!

In Twenty-Eighteen I intend to get stuck into my next long-term project. That's a year behind schedule, but you can only do what you can do! I will spend some time over Christmas researching further and hope that I can be fully involved with no cutting corners, and pushing myself to new limits!

I am hardly the person to demonstrate high levels of efficiency with my powers of distraction , but I am aware of the things I can do to stay on track and keep reminding myself of where I am heading (there is no final destination by the way!)

Happy Headspace!