Friday, 11 April 2014

Women Who Eat on the Tube and street photography

I started writing this a question on the Facebook group of my photography group and it seemed to turned into something much longer, so I decided to post it here too. 

Those of you based in the UK will probably have heard of the Women Who Eat on the Tube furore that's slowly leaked from social media into the mainstream news cycle. I think this raises some questions for those of us with an interest in street photography (whether just passing or more serious). 

This morning the guy behind the idea was on Today defending his actions as an innocuous personal art project victim of its own success. The consensus among the critics seems to be that the whole thing is sexist and just another way for chauvinists to shame women. 

Although I can see that specifically "targeting" women can be seen as a little suspicious, my understanding is that it was mostly the later (once the thing (started in 2011) got some traction) comments on those pictures that did the shaming. 

But the criticism seem firmly directed at the project rather than the reactions it created in its intended audience. This leads me to question what is going on. Is there a legitimate concern or is it just another hysterical twitter storm? And what does it all mean for us photographers?

I fail to see what is shameful about the act of eating. The pictures were taken in a public space where they were therefore allowed and the "victims" remained anonymous. If WWEotT is reprehensible, shouldn't there have been an outcry when Tubecrush came to notoriety? Is there a double standard being applied here? 

The critics also talk about breach of expected privacy, saying that people should be able to expect not to be photographed and have their image subsequently shared without consent. But that leads me to wonder what we should do with the images of famous street photographers, the Doisneaus and the Maiers of this world, who took (presumably) unauthorised shots of passers by which can now be easily seen be thousands (or more) people. Should their art be banned? Is their work more legitimate and acceptable because they are now recognised artists? what about emerging artists? 

I realise that a group of mostly men is perhaps not the best place to discuss this but I think that, both as gay men (and a few women) and photographers, we have a stake in the debate and I would like to hear people's thoughts on this. 

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Prideful week-end

The magic hour
I managed to get a press pass for Pride London again this year. This gave me access to a loo in a nearby hotel at the end of the parade(!) but more importantly to the pit at the front of the main stage where my arms got thoroughly burned by an unusual appearance from the sun. The dwindling number of fundamentalists protesting the parade (there weren't even 20 of them this year!) would probably remind me that that's one gets from pride: the burns of hellfire...

I'm glad to report that no debacle like that of last year with Boy George took place this year and that the artistes with whom I shared my images on Twitter have been very gracious about it. Some have even asked for permission to use the images.

On Sunday, to finish a gay old week-end in style, I was at Tate Britain for Queer Britannia, a mellow and relaxing tour of the newly hung galleries, highlighting some of the gay-friendly pieces on display. Again pictures were taken... (full flickr set)

Full Pride set available on flickr here.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Beyond Words

Saturday marks the opening of an exhibition organised by Foyles and the Gay Photographers Network. It will showcase the works of some of the GPN's members around the themes of Literary London, Travel, Love and Marriage and Mind, Body and Soul. I'm very proud to be among those whose images will be featured.

As I also have an image in a show celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Pink Singers, this marks the fourth exhibition in which my work has been displayed. And I have more plans for later in the year...

So if you find yourselves in Charing Cross Road in the next five weeks, drag yourselves to the gallery on the 3rd floor and (hopefully) enjoy our works. On your way down, you can stop at the cafe for a nice sit down and a cuppa and enjoy a few more works from some of our members.

Beyond Words
Gallery at Foyles,
Charing Cross Road
29 June to 03 August
Admission free
more info: here and here.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Kew Gardens

strata The latest photowalk organised by the Gay Photographers Network was at Kew Gardens. I had been some years ago but the location (not really close from my patch) and the entrance fee had prevented me from returning. I must also confess to not being that excited by plants and trees... I had my fill as a kid, I suppose.

As we got there it was raining which didn't bode too well for the next few hours. We took shelter in the sweltering atmosphere of the Palm House and thankfully the weather soon started to clear to finally offer a glorious afternoon. The rest of the day, punctuated by a well deserved and most welcome cup of tea with cake, went on without problem, taking us from the waterlily house to the treetops walk and the formal gardens of Kew Palace.

My images can be viewed on flickr here.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

London from Centre Point

London from Centre Point
You know how Facebook has decided to include "sponsored posts" to your timeline, advertising things you don't need or already have?

Well, recently one of those adverts (let's call a spade a spade), actually turned out to be of interest. Sony is launching a new compact camera and to mark the occasion were inviting people to sign up to attend an event on the 31st floor of Centre Point. The highest building in the West End.

Called the Viewing Tower, this was an opportunity to test the ultra powerful zoom of the new camera. And of course an great opportunity to whip out our own cameras. The weather was good for most of the time, though sadly it all clouded over later in the evening, anihilating any chance of a sunset and we got busy.

My images can be viewed on flickr here.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Sunset from the rooftops

London Eye and sunset
It's been a couple of weeks now. Almost every day I see people on the roof of a building I know to be broaded up. And of course, I want to get on that roof too.

I made a first attempt on Sunday but unfortunately couldn't find access. In desperation, I decided to email JB, who specialises in shooting London from the rooftops. Perhaps he would have an idea on how to get there.

I met JB at the meeting of my photo group where he persented his work. I chatted to him afterwards and offered a couple of leads of possible places I could use for future shoots. JB kindly offered to meet up to try and find out a way.

First we went to a nearby building and took a few shots from there before having a walk around the Heygate estate. Finally we managed to find hidden access and found ourselves on the roof just in time for sunset. We weren't alone there. Street artists were at work already and other visitors joined us later. It is clearly a popular spot.

That's how I spent an evening on a rooftop with a (straight) guy admiring the views. Romance... (almost)

The images can be viewed on flickr here, while all my heygate images are gathered here.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Another visit to the Heygate

Heygate Estate
The demolition of the Heygate Estate is apparently soon to begin. Technically it already has, with phase 1 of the project, at the far south east of the site, already flattened for some months. I'm talking about the main building, those big looming slabs of concrete that delimit the site. First they will start by the buildings south of Heygate Street. That should happen by the end of this year. Within 3 years, it should all have gone.

In the meantime, street artists are taking over the place with Southwark Council desparately and ineffectively wasting paint and money to try and keep everything a uniform grey. Urban gardeners, photographers and parkour adepts are also at it and the place though decrepit still welcomes a surprising amount of activity.

Goaded by the sight of people on one of the rooftop, I made my third proper visit to the site yesterday. Sadly, I couldn't figure out how to access that rooftop but I got a few nice shots.

Yesterday's images can be viewed on flickr here, while all my heygate images are gathered here.