Wednesday, 28 August 2013

HERE COMES THE SUN by Kevin Meredith

HERE COMES THE SUN by Kevin Meredith
It was the the summer of 1974 - for me the summer of love. I had a new girlfriend and she was with me on the day I went to Wembley Stadium for an open air concert featuring The Band, Joni Mitchell and Crosby Stills Nash & Young. It was a gloriously sunny day and, as we sat there waiting for the show to start, they played music over the loudspeakers. Everything felt wonderful; I was in love, it seemed like everyone around us was in love, the sun was shining. Then suddenly, we heard the opening bars of "Here Comes the Sun" by The Beatles over the sound system and for the next few minutes I was transported into a heavenly place and thought how much better can life be?

Looking back through my emails, I was surprised to see that I wrote to Kevin as long ago as March 2013 after I had seen him mentioned on Twitter and then looked up his great work on his website. My memory was that my first contact with him was being introduced when I was talking to Alma Haser (and James MacDonald) at a Mini Click event in Brighton. It doesn't really matter but when I met him, he came across immediately as a nice person - a bit bluff but with a little bit of softness exposed possibly in his eyes or the way he talked or the way he moved or all three. Anyway, in March 2013, he replied to my email saying that he would be pleased to photograph me and that he would propose creating a montage portrait an example of which he sent me. I was thrilled because I really liked his style and, when I first saw his work, I thought 'I want to be in a photograph taken by this guy'.

As it was, it took until August before we set up the shoot on a morning not unlike the one which heralded that magical day in 1974. Kevin picked me up at 7.15 am and we drove to Stanmer Park and then spent a god hour or so wandering around this beautiful place. We saw one woman walking a dog but otherwise there was no-one else there - certainly we didn't see anyone else. I was wearing a grey shirt and Kevin found a spot where we started the montage shots. He used quite a small film camera and, before each shot, he measured with a ruler the distance between the lens and the part of me he was photographing moving from my head down my body to my lower legs. Being photographed is quite an intimate experience but this was particularly so as it was so close and he was touching me. Then, as we moved about the park into the woods, he asked me to get undressed and we did some nude shots, some montage and some not. All the while, we chatted and gradually we relaxed into easy conversation. This is the bit I like best - getting to know the person with whom I am collaborating. Kevin is a sensitive person and very experimental in his outlook on the art of photography. He is interested in so many different types of photograph and methods of taking them and he wants to pass that enthusiasm on to his audience and his students. He doesn't gush but he is very into what he does. 

I waited a few months for the results and then, in  short rush of emails, he sent me the images. Oh, before that I saw one image of his of me lying naked on the ground on Instagram. It was beautiful. Anyway, the montage shots were all that I had hoped they would be - crisp, revealing, intimate. However, Kevin then sent through this shot and I was blown away by it. It is stunning. I do find it surprising how these shots are so meaningful to me at this time. Now, maybe Kevin had this in mind when he created the image but the branches going through my head seem to sum up how befuddled my brain is becoming with the progression of my illness and yet there is still a strong burning source of creativity shining through which for the moment is in the ascendancy. I was worried that I would have to tell Kevin that the original idea of the montage would not feature in the image I would choose for my project but he didn't seem phased by this at all and he readily (and generously) accepted my choice.

So, here we are - "Here Comes The Sun" by Kevin Meredith. Aren't I a lucky bastard to have photographs like this and to meet and work with guys like Kevin?


Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been clear
Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun, and I say
It's all right


WEBSITE: http://lomokev.com/
FLICKR: http://www.flickr.com/people/lomokev/


Wednesday, 21 August 2013

IT'S OVER by Jack Latham

IT'S OVER by Jack Latham

Jack.

I like the name Jack. When I was much younger, I used to read a lot of Jack London books and I think that maybe the reason I like the name so much. The books were full of wonderful adventures and derring do in more innocent times. Then, subsequently, I was intrigued that John F Kennedy was also known as Jack - it sounded so cool. Then there was Jack Nicholson whom I first saw in "Five Easy Pieces". I admired the way he played slightly amoral characters who stood up for what they believed was right - for example, see the scene in "Five Easy Pieces" where he clears the table in the restaurant and the scene in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" where he commentates on the imaginary football game (or was it baseball?).

But, back to Jack - Jack Latham -  the complete antithesis of Jack Nicholson. Whereas Nicholson is all knowing smiles and an uncouth manner, when I met Jack for the first time, he was very polite and looked like someone who had seen Shangri-La. His open, honest face and his easy, almost child-like wonder about his work and my project were immediately affecting so much so that I would have done anything he would have asked me to do in the shoot.

I went to his flat in Hove and we talked for quite some time before we ventured outside for the photograph. He had already suggested, and I had agreed, to photograph him as well. He took me down into a garage area below the ground floor which was like a moat around the block of flats. I had looked down upon this area from the bridge entrance to the lobby when I first arrived and thought it might make a good location for a  short film I was planning. Jack used an enormous large format camera which is the one he lugs over to the USA when he goes on his travels down the Oregon Trail. I still know nothing about cameras but this was very impressive with the large plates and the cloth to cover his head as he set up the shot. First of all, I stood by some scaffolding and he took two shots there. I then told him I had been attracted by the place I had spied from the bridge and he really liked this part where a low concrete wall stuck out at right angles to the higher brick retaining wall. He wondered about me climbing onto the lower wall but then settled for me standing against the bricks and staring straight ahead. I stood against the wall and instinctively placed my hands against it to provide balance. He took a shot and then asked me to close my eyes and slightly bow my head for the second shot and he said at the time that this was "the one". 


However, when it came to me choosing an image for my project, I preferred the first one. It was plain and simple - a man in grey leaning against a wall but there was so much more to see. The man is standing with the fingers of his left hand stretched out against the wall as a sign of, what? Moving on, going forward, not really staying still, restless. His clothes are creased by action. This is not a sedentary person; he is always doing things even if he stops every so often to think. He has his back against the wall but he will not give in. It is a brilliant shot suffused with an underlying emotion and a passion which come not only from the subject but also the photographer both of whom, in the moment the shutter has clicked, are at one.

We returned to the flat and I took a photograph of Jack with another of his cameras (don't ask me what it was). For some reason, I wanted him to be leaning over the balcony but with his head turned towards me. I wanted communication. We talked some more about his travels to the States and about the tragic death of Tim Hetherington and the birth of his own identity in his chosen art. Somehow, Roy Orbison came up and he said that "In Dreams" was his favourite song which didn't surprise me. Eventually, I said goodbye and, as I left, I felt that I was leaving some magic behind. I turned on my ipod shuffle and the beautiful voice of Brian Wilson rang out and then the magic worked and "In Dreams" came on. Jack was still with me - a good solid, gentle and sensitive man with an angelic face and a good solid name.

Jack.


Monday, 19 August 2013

DAYDREAM BELIEVER by Stacey Hatfield

DAYDREAM BELIEVER by Stacey Hatfield

Sometimes, people creep up on you slowly and you realise that from the very start they were special. One such special person in my life is Stacey Hatfield. I am afraid that I cannot remember how I came across her work but it was certainly via Twitter in May 2013. However, I had met her a few months before when I managed to wangle my way in to a Nadav Kander Private View at a gallery near Oxford Circus. At that time, I was beginning to have more trouble walking and I could ever be entirely sure how I would be at a function like that. As it happened, I felt good as I stepped into the gallery. There I met Christina Theisen who had assisted Jillian Edelstein on a shoot I had done in North London. Stacey was with Christina that night and we chatted briefly but I did not remember her name so that, when I came across her work some months later, I did not put two and two together.

Then, in the summer, I was invited to talk about my project at a MiniClick event in Brighton and Stacey came along. In the meantime, we were corresponding and slowly but surely, I was beginning to sit up and take notice of this Stacey Hatfield. What began to dawn on me was that she was very committed and serious about her work - it was what she was about. We arranged to meet for a chat at the NFT Cafe on the South Bank and I think what finally hooked me was the way she scoffed her chips. I don't know why but I really like it when a person scoffs and she scoffed in a very beguiling way. Anyway, in between mouthfuls of chips, we began to talk and plan our shoot. This discussion continued by email until she and her lovely friend, James Brannon, came down to Brighton. By this time, we had fixed on a plan to shoot me on the beach but that was ditched at the last minute and we agreed to concentrate the shooting at my home.

We camped in our sitting room and whilst we chatted and I posed and she clicked, I played some vinyl 45s on my record player. We played lucky dip  - they chose a number from left or right and I then took the record from the stack on the shelf and played it. All good fun. It was a very happy shoot and, by the end, Stacey said "Boo!" and I finally realised that Stacey was Special Stacey with a lovely smile and a keen intellect and a serious interest in her Art as well as being an arch Scoffer of Chips.

So, by the time that she and James returned to the house a few weeks later, we were really clicking. This time, they filmed me dancing to a tune from Amelie. I wasn't on top form physically but with their support, good humour and love, it worked. I thought afterwards that I wished I had been better physically and then I could have really nailed the dancing but, in fact, that didn't matter because the film was a record of what happened at that time on that day. It is a beautiful, lyrical piece which has Stacey stamped all over it. I do daydream and I do believe in love. That is what this photograph and the film say and they say it with assurance, power and love. It is a Stacey Hatfield photograph and a Stacey Hatfield production. How lucky am I?

Film: https://vimeo.com/232302879

WEBSITE: http://staceyhatfield.co.uk/

Friday, 9 August 2013

OSMOSIS by Julia Horbaschk


OSMOSIS by Julia Horbaschk

You know when you are sitting at a table in a cafe or a pub after a function and you are chatting to the other people seated there - people you have only met that day for the first time - and one person above all others, holds your attention by dint of his or her engaging personality and the intelligence of his or her questions and comments? Well, that is what happened to me the day I met Julia for the first time. It was on 13th July 2013, the hottest day so far of that beautiful summer and I had just given a talk at a MiniClick event held in Brighton. The heat explains why not as many people came along as we were hoping but enough did come to make it a very good event. I spoke in the first half followed by about five photographers and then we had a break for lunch before a Question and Answer session in the afternoon and it was during the lunch break that I met Julia with some other members of the audience. We talked about this and that, including my project and in particular the question of nudity. Afterwards, she gave me her card and later I took the opportunity to look up her photography online and I was impressed with her work and her description of it.

I made contact with her and we met again at The Meeting Place Cafe on the Brighton Seafront and Julia said that there was a beach near Portslade which would be perfect as the location for our shoot if, as seemed likely, I was to be nude. I wanted also to try to find an unharvested cornfield up in the hills to the north of Brighton, if we could fit that in on the same day. Our first visit to the beach was very short and sweet and very wet! Julia took some photographs from some way off and then nearer the remains of some old, rusted metal breakwaters by which time the wind had got stronger and the rain was lashing down so we ran away to the car and thereafter retreated with honour to have a cup of coffee. The next shoot was much more successful in terms of decent images taken because the weather held and we got all the shots we wanted. We did not find a cornfield but we did find a suitable alternative in a quiet spot at the back of some newish houses where there were tall bleached grasses growing.


All the images looked great at the back of Julia's camera and I very much looked forward to receiving the finished articles. As Julia herself wrote of the beach shots on her blog, "The vast seascapes with the humble presence of Tim's body speak to me most. They point to fragility of life, power, drama and synthesis of the elements; an Osmosis of air, water, sand, sea and us."

Julia was quite quick in producing what she felt were the best images and I think very much that they captured the feel of those days brilliantly. The isolation of the location, the thoughts behind each shot, the feeling of utter liberation which I enjoyed but more importantly, the comradeship arising out of a true collaboration and meeting of minds. Julia is an absolute professional when it comes to Photography but she has a delightful personality and a wacky sense of humour. She is also married to a charming husband, Mark to whom she introduced me and who clearly is very interested in and supportive of her work.

It took me sometime choosing a final image for my project but I went for the above in the end - not that I had any real doubts; I merely had an embarrassment of riches from which to choose a single photograph to represent Julia. I love this shot - the way I am stretching up to breath in the cool morning air or maybe I am hoping to be beamed up to sit on a cloud as it scuds over this buzzy seaside city.

Since those two shoots, Julia has helped me shoot one of my silly films on You Tube (see http://youtu.be/nV1wQhPe0do and http://youtu.be/JWsE9i0XEJg) and together, we are looking to collaborate on more exciting things in 2014.

WEBSITE: http://cargocollective.com/keepmoving/About-Julia-Horbaschk
BLOG: http://seeandview/wordpress.com
TWITTER: https://twitter.com/#!/bunt_am_meer
FLICKR: http://www.flickr.com/photos/freshandwild/sets