I am pleased to say I've been involved in the judging of this year's Foto Fenix
I have taken a series of portraits of Chelva people as they were waiting to take part in the benediction of their pets, part of the annual festival of San Anton, which takes place across most of Spain in mid-January each year. Some information about San Anton here - a rough translation of a long article in Spanish.
There is much that is wrong with the photos, particularly the white balance, but I am content with them. They were taken with my inner eye seeing Daniel Meadow's photobus pictures of Moss Side, Manchester in the early 1970s.
Preparing to make photos of the benediction of the animals, part of the San Anton Festival in Chelva, I'm reading this article about the influence of Tony Ray Jones on Martin Parr.
I'm very pleased to report that I have two photos in a forthcoming photo book published by PhotoBath
A sentence by WG Sebald, like a sentence by James Joyce, winds sensuously around your mind if you give it the space granted by reading aloud. The description of Mr Bloom making breakfast is one, as is Sebald's description of the anglers on a beach near Lowestoft. What Sebald's writing includes, in addition, are photographs. Carefully placed on the page, as if to illustrate a point being made, but uncredited, without caption and usually of poor quality, they add depth and mystery rather than clarification. Sebald world is a complicated fiction; perhaps the murky photos are a bridge back to a non-fiction world, but often they seem to intensify the mystery of the space in which the story is unfolding. In Vertigo, the narrator recalls losing his passport and obtaining a replacement. The text includes an image of a voided passport in which Sebald’s photograph and signature remain visible, but the face is obscured. It is what Rick Poynor has called writing with pictures.
A highlight of the recent Hay on Wye literary festival was a talk by the photographer John Bulmer. Not known to me before, his work came as a revelation, linking Roger Mayne, Don McCullin and Martin Parr. A highlight of Wind of Change, his new book of photographs, is a photo of Dun McCullin carrying an old woman to safety during the Greek and Turkish Cypriot war.
I'm following Joel Meyerowitz's daily photos partly because the photos are great, partly because they appear first thing in the morning. Slightly bleary eyed I read this morning's entry on haiku photography when I realised that this is exactly what I am trying to do, or rather what photography aspires to, and maybe what all great photography is.
My 365 project continues. Here are two photos I took recently by the River Severn, looking at the clouds.
At first glance, Martin Parr's early photos don't look like anything much. None of the pyrotechnics of the later colour work, instead muted sometimes muddy greys. He is no Anselm Adams. But then you see a photo like the one below and you realise you are standing behind the eyes of a master photographer. The exhibition of his early work at Compton Verney, which Sally and I attended in the company of a group of people who could easily be Martin Parr subjects, showed a fully formed vision of the world - precise, spacious, formally beautiful, deeply empathetic, and very humorous. It made me wish that Ted Hughes, born up the road from where the photos were taken, had collaborated with him, as he did with Faye Godwin. I suspect though that Hughes would have been outgunned by the strange and beautiful photos at Compton Verney. The extraordinary portraits of Sarah Hannah Greenwood and her brother Charlie were new to me and worth the trip on their own.