November 22, 2009
A solo exhibition of new photographic and text based work by recent Byam Shaw graduate Jon Rees.
Showing at Spinach
Unit A, 144 Liverpoool Road
London N1 1LA
Private view Wed 9th Dec 5.30 – 8pm
October 9, 2009
Fine Art photographer, Jon Ree’s “London from the hip” project had an emotional impact on me. I found the candid shots of unobserved Londoners very refreshing and dynamic as well as poignant and moving. These photos, many taken in Shepherds Bush, look and feel like proper street photography. For these reasons I thought I’d pose my standard set of questions to him…
1. Photography: what’s it all about!?
Photography for me is a defence against social anxiety, a way to feel like I’m doing something productive because I have trouble being in the world and don’t know how to do nothing. It’s also a way to communicate how I see the world, of course. Sometimes things look so beautiful it hurts and I want to preserve those moments but that’s impossible because photography kills everything it sees, sometimes I hope I get close though. A photograph is the violent death of something; it cuts off a piece of space and time and keeps it unchanged while the world around it continues to change. What’s left out of the frame disappears forever; it’s an incredibly sad and fascinating medium.
2. Supply 3 significant or favourite images, tell me about each one, why you chose that one, what is means/represents to you
1) This image was probably my first breakthrough with photography, I feel. I don’t want to explain it away and kill it; I think it’s important not to do that. However I think it communicates a sense of strangeness and pensiveness without looking too contrived (although it’s obviously staged). The figures are quite sculptural and have an interesting relationship with the concrete forms and there’s this field of vision, which is too wide, like a heightened sensitivity, being able to see in two directions at the same time.
2) Sometimes it feels like the universe is working in your favour, like you’re swimming with as opposed to against the current. It felt like that with this image, the layers of the glass, the graffiti dripping, the McDonalds cup, her beautiful stillness, the green wash over everything. There’s something wrong but you can’t quite put your finger on it, it disturbs reality therefore it works as a photograph.
3) Aesthetically this is not the greatest image I’ve taken by a long way, however I love the moment it captures. I like the idea of some slightly plump super heroes patrolling Shepherds Bush, high-fiveing 70’s tennis players. It’s a rare moment of joy and connection between strangers, a relief from the guarded suspicion we are used to treating each other with.
3. Photography can make you scared. It’s like being in a running race. Can you comment on the demands, the fears of being a photographer?
Well, obviously photography has become so much more accessible (with camera phones, cheap digital cameras etc) and images as adverts cover more and more of our world, therefore each image I produce is adding to an incredible amount of images being produced each day. I question the value in this sometimes, I think that the purpose of art should maybe be to question this need to produce and consume more images not just mindlessly add more. Then there’s the fear of pressing the shutter sometimes which can paralyze me, the fear of making mistakes, of not being good enough, of looking stupid, of being viewed as suspicious, of getting robbed, there are many, none of them are very helpful.
4. What’s left for you to do? What next photographically…?
The ‘London From the Hip’ series is ongoing for me. I am walking the streets photographing the people I pass without looking through the lens, leaving chance to play a big part in the result and enabling me to capture people without them reacting to the camera. I would like to set up a temporary gallery in an empty shop in Shepherds Bush displaying these and engaging with the local community through the work. I have a show coming up in December for which I want to make new work. I’m thinking of taking a kind of psycho-geography approach to this, plucking pieces of history, fact, fiction and my own experience of Islington (where the show is) and seeing what comes together. I also really want to make black and white prints of people smoking, it fascinates me how we continue to knowingly damage ourselves and disguise it as pleasure. Long-term, I would like to travel; there’s an abandoned city near Chernobyl, which is a dream of mine to photograph. Detroit (another city that’s dying) sounds like it would be an adventure too.
5. Do you have any regrets in your life as a photographer? Anything you wish you’d done differently?
I’m just starting out really so, no. Everything I’ve done, all the mistakes I’ve made have helped me to learn a bit more. If there’s something I would say to myself now, it’s always be ready and don’t talk yourself out of a shot, it might just be the best you ever take.
September 13, 2009
From 18 September to 22 November 2009.
What: Albert Watson “The White Rabbit”
Where: Forma Galleria, Milan, Italy. http://www.formafoto.it/
When: Opening night, Sept. 17, 2009
August 13, 2009
Today I conducted my first ever phone interview. It was with New York City based photographer Albert Watson. I managed to record the 30 minute conversation with my new phone’s voice recorder and embed it within this page for instant playback. (Another first)!
So please, click play below, turn your speakers on, sit back and prepare to gain an insight into the mind of an extremely serious and successful photographer with close to 40 years experience in the business.
With Thanks to Aaron especially for making it happen and of course, to Albert himself for going on the record.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ALBERT WATSON
Best in Book and Category Winner in Creative Review’s Photo Annual is…Andrew Meredith : the Interview
August 7, 2009
For you, what’s it all about? with reference to the field of photography and your practice in it.
For me, Photography in all its forms is a beautiful way of expression and to show someone exactly what was going through your mind the precise second you snapped open the shutter. Cartier-Bresson’s notion of the decisive moment is of the utmost importance for me as somethings just cannot be recreated in postproduction, although the Photoshop and CGI boffins have pretty much nailed it! Photography will always have a place though I feel.
I shoot both commercially for clients and project work for myself and what I try to do is convey my ideas through the imagery and my passion for image making.
Can you supply 3 images and tell me something about why these ones. (favourite ones, significant ones).
I’ve selected 3 images, each with a significant point in my life, career and train of thought. Something of the past, present and future.
The first photograph I ever took, which I talk about very briefly in the biog on my website, was when I was 8 or 9 in Venice with the guidance of my mother and her old Kodak 110 Ektra. Standing in the middle on one of the amazing bridges looking straight down one of the canals, the buildings all very characterful , decrepit, historic and significant is actually a memory I can still remember incredibly well, I remember that I lined up the shot perfectly centered on the bridge with the buildings all lining up symmetrically around the canal and a little blue sky to the top of the frame. The water was remarkably busy with gondolas and the sides of the buildings messily dressed with ramshackle steel balconies with hanging washing drying in the sun. The concrete of the houses was dirty and decaying. Although this photograph is lost to many a house move or may never have even been developed, the memory of this image is burnt into my brain, although, it only came to significance to me a few years ago when I was thinking about how things started. I have always been fascinated with the scene of a city, the architecture, a lot going on, a human element, symmetrical in form, but a sense of something else going on that you can’t necessarily see. I realised the way I took the image in Venice is pretty much how I look at taking a photograph now 20 years on!
It is unfortunate I cannot include this image as I could draw upon many comparisons with with many of the projects I’ve done over the years, through college and beyond.
Image 1 (Selfridges Manchester, 2002)
Fresh from Graduating from Falmouth College of Art in 2002 I moved back to the Midlands with my parents to find my feet and more importantly eat some proper food! I did a little assisting for a few photographers around and quickly got bored
with everyone else clicking the shutter while I was holding a few 5×4 darkslides or a polaroid back. It might have had something to do with the small pool of credible Midlands that was available at the time, mainly industrial and school
prospectus work was never going to get me excited at that opportunity after what I was looking at in Uni. As with all BA graduates I thought I deserved better so I started ambitiously sending my college work out to people. After a few weeks I got an email back from Robert Thiemann, the editor of Frame Magazine in Holland to which I massively admired in design and photography though strictly an architectural publication aimed at the more creatively minded, congratulating me on my work and comparing it to that of Andreas Gursky! and offering me a possible editorial. I was amazing and of course accepted even before hearing what that project was. I didn’t know it at the time but it turned out to be the most important 10 shots I would take, The job was to shoot the new Selfridges Manchester store for a 10 page feature. Didn’t seem much at the time but Selfridges’ Press office had caught wind of this and eventually called me down to London for a meeting to discuss a project also, that turned out to be a few shots of the ‘not yet open’ Saatchi Gallery on the South Bank. 7 years on I still shoot projects for Frame Magazine and Selfridges every month. The image below was the first image shot of the Selfridges store in Manchester, published in Frame in October 2002 and in Creative Review later on. It still remains in my portfolio today and probably forced my hand in moving to London. Off the back of that work I have shot for Chanel, Fortnum and Mason, Hermes, Elle Decor Italia, Kurt Geiger, Mark Magazine, worked on a number of internationally published booksand magazines including Vogue and Harpers Bazaar.
Though all the commercial and editorial photography work has treated me very well and helped me take serious steps up in the world I needed, and I guess, most importantly the money to keep on going and living, I always thought there might have been more to what I was looking for out there. In college all I had done was make photographs that pleased me and fitted my projects, so leaving that bubble was a great challenge to make work that had a use, whether editorially, advertising or promotional, it was always for a tailor made purpose. The pros to this was always when something got published – the idea your work can be seen by thousands of people was mind-blowing and therefore had to be in itself very well done to catch an eye or two which I always tried to do to get that all important foot in the next door.
However, what was missing was the release of creating my own projects, the creative freedom to experiment and explore. I wanted to get back to my old way of thinking. I tried a few ideas, touched on a few projects but nothing caught my imagination long enough to last more than a couple of shoots. It wasn’t until 2008 when I was in Chile for a friend’s wedding and also shooting an editorial out there at the same time that I realised what I was actually missing, I had never been travelling after college unlike many of my friends, choosing instead to slog my guts out consistently for 6 years in London. I was stale, and I needed to see a fresh perspective and to start to think again. I used the 4 weeks we had out in South America to travel around villages, climb live volcanoes, explore the vast cities, talk to the people and eat a hell of a lot of steak! All with my Hasselblad strapped round my neck. I documented all that 60 rolls of 120 could while I was there.
The image above was the view from the window in the first place we stayed in Santiago, Chile. Everything was surrounded by the Andes, it was great and just what I needed scenery wise as London had gotten so samey. Fresh from buying Alec Soth’s photobook Dog Days in Bogata, I realised it was a similar path finding for me in Chile – this was to be my project! Something to get my ideas flowing again and my inspiration for a fresh perspective.
Images from this series ‘Excursions’ were Longlisted for British Journal of Photography’s projects assistance award, the Terry O’Neil award and exhibited at London’s Photofusion Gallery and the PM Gallery in group shows.
Image 3 (The Slaughtermen)
To represent the future of my work in brief will be to carry on with a project I was initially commissioned in 2009 to create by OnOffice magazine on a slaughterhouse as a notion of a workplace. I stumbled upon a place in Coventry who very kindly allowed me all access for the day, what a day, the things I saw! Images of this project ‘The Slaughtermen’ have been published in OnOffice in Feb 2009, Longlisted for BJP’s project assistance award, category winner and Best in Book for Creative Review’s Photo Annual 2009 and will be exhibited at The Printspace Gallery in October 2009.
Photography can make you scared. It’s almost akin to being in a running race. Can you comment on the demands, the fears of being a photographer?
I’m not necessarily scared of photography, I used to be because of the constant competition and fight for a job, but now I feel relatively secure. In these very difficult times of financial mess everyone is in, its hard not to be a little anxious as to where your work is coming from and the ever dwindling shoot budgets I think all you can do is put into a shoot all you have to offer and give the clients a reason to remember you by. My ethic right from the start was to go the extra mile, explore all avenues of work, I no longer specialise in architectural and interiors work but also in portraiture, landscape and product photography. I think diversity is the key. I think these days it seems easier for a client to use one trusted photographer who can shoot everything they may need within their budget rather than one guy who specialises in just one discipline. It’s the reason a lot of people are currently scrabbling for work. Another important note of key is to keep incredibly proactive and prominent in peoples thoughts. I’ve never stopped working hard ever since I became freelance.
What’s left for you to do?
Everything! I don’t think my personality will ever let me be finished as there is always something there to strive for and to give my all to achieve. I would love to work in New York on commissions and shoot projects in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Russia, Cuba, Iraq…..I could go on! But ultimately I see a step up being advertising work. A lovely fine art book of my project work wouldn’t go a miss too!
Do you have any regrets in your life as a photographer? Anything you wish you’d done differently?
My regrets are not coming to the conclusion that I needed to think hard to create a project, sometimes taking a step backwards will reveal the full picture and its no good hoping the answers will come from someone else, you don’t get anything for nothing. Travelling through South America helped me realise some of this and entering competitions was something that only came to me a few years ago – ‘you gotta be in it to win it’.
Andrew Meredith : Photographer
Represented by Gallerystock.com
August 4, 2009
He was my peer. Similar age, different background (financial) but wanted to assist and learn about photography. I’d put an advert online for an assistant for a one off, corporate photo shoot. This was the first time I had ever felt the need for an assistant, mainly to help hump the gear around and set up and down. I had loads of responses, but his application seemed like the best fit for me. I met with him for a beer and as he had turned up on time and seemed willing to help and learn thought he was suitable. He was a nice guy. He never worked with me again. Bad choice. And I never got hired by the client again. When I was taking the group shot of the board, we were trying to get them to smile so what did he say instead of “cheese” or “potatoes”? He said, say “Bollocks”. This was totally uncalled for! I was embarrassed. In hindsight it is quite funny but, (and I hate this word) inappropriate. Of course, photographers are always going to need assistants…