100 Days

Just 100 days to the Brexit referendum, on June 23rd. The public is getting informed by polls and opinions from both sides of the campaign. No one really knows what the effects would be for Britain if there was an ‘out’ victory.

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What does photography mean to you?

I am starting a response thread on Facebook here with the above question, to which I am posing to all my photographer friends, contacts and acquaintances and those that are involved in the imaging, curatorial and journalism disciplines. We now begin a new year soon, and the flood of images that are being shared on social media and the rest of the internet, no less,  in printed publications, television and commercials continue to saturate our collective minds on a daily basis.

This wild statistic is mind-boggling!

If you printed off the 21.9 billion photos uploaded to Instagram
in a year, it would reach 6,351 kilometres.
That’s a whole lot of selfies!

[Check it out here https://photoworld.com/photos-on-the-web/]

So, in search for more clarity, I would love to learn about your thoughts on photography, to you personally, either a consumer of images, or perhaps as a creator.

What is it about photography that makes you tick, go weak in the knees, perhaps break out in a cold sweat, or just feel chilled. Perhaps it isn’t a tangible thing, like cradling a vintage camera and hearing the moving gears within as you cock its shutter. Could it be the amazing deep blacks from a fine silver gelatin print that moves you to tears, or the heady smell of developer and fixers  fumes wafting through your makeshift darkroom?

Maybe you like to collect photo books and smell the new pages as you sample its contents. You may be into gear fetish, always acquiring new equipment as soon as they hit the stores, or a pixel peeper, demanding to view everything on your giant 25 inch screen at 100%. You could be in love with Photoshop and like to tweak every possible parameter to create your masterpieces in your darkened room, perhaps?

I would also like to know what is the most significant photograph you have ever taken and why.  This does not have to be a masterpiece, a good image, or even a memorable image.  Just an image that has played an important role in your photographic journey, or made an impression to others along the way? Please do share.

I will run this thread for a few months and hope by the end of it, we could have a collection of  interesting writing, photographs and viewpoints to share but I will need your honest involvement and response.

Cheers!

Best wishes for 2016…

Steven

 

Absence of silence

Day 6 -Haste Ye Back! The slogan greets us on a road sign as we drive out of Brora on the A9, heading South and back into England. First, the long drive towards Inverness, Perth and then Stirling, by-passing Glasgow over into Carlisle on the M74. The scenery is spectacular, as you can imagine. Hills, valleys, meandering rivers and streams, snow-capped mountains, sheep and cattle. We had brilliant sunshine, rain, sleet and snow all within a few minutes of leaving. That is the weather in the Highlands in winter time, according to the locals we met, ah, nothing to worry about.

I leave Scotland with a heavy heart, with the Paris attacks fresh in my mind as we watched it unfold on live tv on Friday evening last. Had I not planned this Scottish road trip, I would have gone to Paris Photo this very same weekend, as did several of my photography friends. Thank God they are all safe.

Photographically, I didn’t shoot much on this 1,500-mile road trip, save to say the weather foiled many attempts at trying, what with Storm Abigail blowing 90mph winds on the Days 2 and 3 whilst we sat out the Amber warning. Cameras and horizontal rain do not get along well.

 

Under leaden skies

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Day 3 – After the awful event in Paris last night, a city so close and familiar to me, I couldn’t really sleep, but managed to get a few hours rest from watching the streaming breaking news on TV. We had a 4 hour drive the next morning, which was today, 14th November.  Leaving the West coast and crossing the Highlands down to Brora on the East coast, under leaden skies. It had been raining and sleeting non-stop the whole night, and the clouds are low and menacing.

There is a light dusting of snow on the mountain peaks above 500m and the temperature is hovering around 5C. So no ice. More particularly, no black ice. The A832 to A835 route across from Poolewe to Lairg via Ullapool is spectacular. We practically encounter no other motorists for at least 50 miles on this route. Amazingly raw landscapes of valleys, and mountains, rivers, streams, waterfalls, sheep and huge black cattle. Boggy heather knolls and dark grey granite crags.  Just hoping the car not breaking down or the tyres getting a puncture.

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Occupied Pleasures by Tanya Habjouqa

Christmas came early!

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Any day now.

Today, November 8th.

Phone rang, postman delivered.

I was hoping and expecting to receive my copy of Tanya Habjouqa’s amazing book called Occupied Pleasures, a collection of candid photographs of Palestine and it’s people, which was funded through Kickstarter, which had a planned release date in November 2015. Like an eager kid, I opened the package sent by FotoEvidence from Sofia, and voila here it is!

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“Each image avows aliveness and desolation” – Foreword by Nathalie Handal

Every photo is so well taken and composed, and the colour is simply mesmerizing. I seldom buy photobooks nowadays, simply because I have no more bookshelf space, and also the costs of the ones I like to collect. Another reason is that I also like trees. Once in a while, however, comes a publication worth supporting and this is one.

Tanya Habjouqa

Videohttp://www.tanyahabjouqa.com/page1

Charlie Burns, king of Bacon Street.

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Wandered through the streets around Brick Lane again this Saturday with participants from the City Academy street photography class and caught this enigmatic image of a tourist photographing the Charlie Burns mural. Charlie Burns, as I later discovered is a long time resident of Shoreditch, a well-respected gentleman, who had lived here since 1915, and had seen the gradual changes over the years. He established a paper mill business and later ran a boxing club locally.  Charlie passed away in 2012, aged 96.

More below :

Mural by Ben Shaw, artist See here

So Long, Charlie Burns

City Academy Photography Classes

InstantLondon. London welcomes refugees

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At least 50,000 people marched to Downing Street today in London and as many in other European capitals to demand more be done for the refugee crisis facing Europe currently. The atmosphere was festive, with many families and small children taking part in the march from Marble Arch to Parliament Square.

Leviathan 2 – Death in the Med

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Over 800 migrants, men, women and children, from North Africa – Libya, Syria and Eritrea, drowned yesterday in the southern Mediterranean Sea, whilst attempting an illegal night crossing, near Libya’s coast and also, another boat sunk in southern Greece. According to reports, there are an estimated 1,000,000 migrants amassed in Libyan ports waiting to take these perilous journeys to cross over to Europe. These people pay thousands of dollars each to human traffickers to get onboard unseaworthy boats, with little or no food, medicine and technical skills, hoping they will be be picked up by Italian coastguards. They are desperate to escape persecution, civil war, famine and disease, but exploited by ruthless gangs to come to Europe, where, supposedly, life is better.

‘More than 1,750 migrants have perished in the Mediterranean since the start of the year – more than 30 times higher than during the same period of 2014, the International Organisation for Migration said on Tuesday.’ – The Times.

The figures are staggering.

‘It is thought that the Italian Navy saved some 170,000 boat people in 2014 and brought them to Italy. It is also thought Italy’s centre-Left government then lost all trace of 100,000 of them once inside Italy.’

I can’t even attempt to guess what the solution to this will be. Stop the boats? How? Accept the migrants? Where to house them? When people are desperate to survive they will leave everything, risk everything to seek ‘Eldorado’. Then, there’s always the threat from ISIS using this guise to enter Europe.

 

We signed our last MALAYSIANS book!

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Today, at Dapur, London overlunch, Haliza and myself signed the last copy of Malaysians a photobook which we jointly published in 2006 with a print run of 2,000 copies. We collaborated on this simple but informative book about Malaysia, Malaysians and our varied ethnic make up with simple head shot portraits.

Below is what I wrote in 2006 :

“MALAYSIANS Photographs by Steven Lee and text by Haliza Hashim-Doyle

A new coffee table book celebrating the unique and diverse ethnicity of Malaysia today : Hardback 148mm x 210mm 512 Pages

“Few things amaze visitors to Malaysia, besides its incredible economic development, than the diversity of its people. Even then, if one only visits one city or two, or a beach or mountain resort, the full spectrum of the multiethnic salad we call Malaysia cannot be fully appreciated. It is only when we see photographs of all of them, side by side as in this book that we know what Malaysian diversity truly means.” Foreword by Marina Mahathir.

The idea of producing another pictorial book on Malaysia came about in 2005 when I noticed that there was not a single publication in the bookstores in Malaysia and in the UK, that depicted the people of the country. There were several existing publications showing the sights of the country, its many amazing places of interests and our national monuments, but none showed the diversity of Malaysians, its fascinating mix of races, its cultural heritage and its rich traditions.

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From this point of departure, I began researching into this project and gathered my resources together and now, am glad to say, the project is underway. As a portrait photographer I am always on the look out for an interesting face. It is after all, a face that one sees first, as a visitor to a new country or place, it is also the first impression of a nation.

The book does not aim to document each and every race and creed. That would be quite impossible. However, it does represent a true cross-section of the nation as I see it during our travels across the length and breadth of the country. This glimpse of a ‘Malaysian’ identity, a vision of a Bangsa Malaysia, will be evident through the faces I portray and the stories and quotes that follow, will hopefully encompass all.

A country like Malaysia thus begins this series, because it is my Malaysia, my country and my people. SL”