Yesterday I had the honour of speaking at the Tate Modern about my experiences of becoming a photographer. The event was put together by the incredible south London creative meet up Rye Here Rye Now. There was a host of brilliant illustrators, musicians, graphic designers and other creative people all talking about what they do. Whilst the talks happened the audience had the chance to draw the speaker! See how I came out below...
Saturday 12th May. Central London fashion event space Brewer Street Car Park was taken over for the #SheInspiresMe fashion car boot sale. This event supports Women for Women International, a charity which helps female survivors of war to rebuild their lives. Here are a few favourites from my photo story:
Yesterday I made a trip to The Photography Show in Birmingham. Where the curious lack of photographs and sheer quantity of things that promise to make you a better photographer normally leaves a rather hollow feeling. However this year they'd addressed this with some inspiring displays. In particular David Hurn's Swaps exhibition. Otherwise it's like going to the world's largest camera shop and I partly go in order to save ever having to go to a real one. (Mostly I buy everything online – doesn't everyone?)
A particular highlight for me was Gered Mankowitz, who is not only a hero for having created some of the most iconic portraits of Jimi Hendrix, but also answered my email questions very helpfully when I was in my first term at Central Saint Martins. We'd been asked who our favourite photographer was and Mankowitz came to mind because he'd recently been on TV talking about his latest book. By complete chance my tutor had previously been his assistant and put me up to getting in touch with him. One day I'll post that original email exchange. It was a definite milestone on my route to becoming a photographer. Yesterday he claimed to still maintain "an analogue pace in a digital world".
Amusing aspects of the show always include the bizarre scenarios laid on by exhibitors to give you something to photograph, this year included Mermaids...
One of the classiest stands this year was by Eizo. Designed by Peter and Paul. They're a design studio who once interviewed me for a job. They wouldn't believe I was willing to relocate to Sheffield despite telling them I had actually been there and was honestly up for up! Maybe they just knew better than I did that I was destined to be a photographer.
- Always worth a browse is Whitewall, who always have a very high standard of photos on display (they’re a printing service based in Germany) I will definitely be putting some orders in this year.
- Lomo and Fuji Instax always have fun stands, it helps that their products are fundamentally enjoyable. I bought a new instant camera (a Lomo that uses Instax film) which I'm looking forward to incorporating into future tests and personal projects.
- Seeing photographers demonstrating their techniques (people now pay thousands in tuition fees for this sort of thing!)
Things I Missed From Previous Years:
- Stationery printing service Moo mainly for their enthusiasm for their product.
- Clive Arrowsmith on the Hasselblad stand who had many hilarious anecdotes.
- The hundreds of people in costume on their way to the Comic-con next door, as I went on a Monday this year I missed it this time.
Overall it's great for checking out what I may or may not ever buy. It’s great hearing directly from manufacturers – I was very impressed by Hasselblad who positively encouraged me to test their mirrorless medium format camera. This year seemed refreshingly balanced, it wasn't overly weighted in favour of baby props, wedding album printers or drones as it has been in previous years. In fact I'm looking forward to the next one.
It's been a month since I got a behind the scenes look at the restaurant Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. The restaurant is set within the luxurious Mandarin Oriental hotel in Knightsbridge and lives up to the high standards you'd expect from it's namesake. I was there to document the creation of the Spiced Custard Christmas Tart, prepared by head pastry chef Daniel Svensson.
Ever since I chose one of his pictures to copy for a school art project I’ve liked the richly coloured and uniquely proportioned portraits of Amadeo Modigliani. At the time his work jumped out at me from the library books as being original, bold and rebellious.
The days between Christmas and New Year are going to be busy in any major London attraction, however the masses of shuffling heads through which I viewed the works somehow seemed fitting. At least the wealthy patrons who'd paid to have their portrait painted would be pleased to see how many people had come to see them.
Having only lived until the age of 35, this exhibition feels like it’s had to spread what Modigliani works it can get hold of a little thinly. Of the 11 rooms listed on the map, two are made up of the same large room with a dividing wall and one is a VR experience that failed to communicate whether it was worth also queuing for (I didn’t). Luckily though I’ve been newly freed from having to weigh up whether these well publicised temporary exhibitions are going to be worth the entry price, by virtue of a Tate membership, a Christmas present from my family.
I had in fact seen Female Nude from 1916 last year, the very work I drew back in school. It’s normally on display across town in the Courtauld Gallery at Somerset House. Seeing it alongside other Modigliani works, in a bigger, brighter room, literally shed new light on it. Oddly it seems less vibrant than I remembered it, especially compared to the other works in the room. Yet still it was far more dynamic than the black and white photocopy I'd stuck in my school sketch book!
The exhibition continues at the Tate Modern until 2 April 2018
To kick things off on my blog; here's a little throwback to a trip I made with my camera in Las Vegas. It's the Neon Museum, AKA the 'Neon Boneyard' (or graveyard to us Brits!). It's a brilliant treasure trove of abandoned casino signage from the pre-LED glory days. They do a great tour and I'd highly recommend a visit.