Visa Pour L'Image and Project28

07 September 16

Posted at 1:09

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I spent last week in Perpignan attending the 28th Visa Pour L'Image. The visit was my first. I found the exhibitions, talks and screenings highly motivational, informative on a whole range of topics/issues and all in all a great experience.

I was pleased to read an article by Jean-Jaques Naudet http://www.loeildelaphotographie.com/en/2016/09/05/article/159918097/editorial-visa-pour-limage/ that neatly sums up my own and other's impressions on our first visit. It really reflects how photography and photojournalism are going through fundamental changes. The field is totally different today for an emerging professional that it was 20 or 30 years ago when many of the contributors at Visa were commencing their careers. Visa will have to get up to date, especially on the third floor, if it is to survive. Though photographer or not please don't let that put you off visiting, the photography is superb, the 'meet the photographer' talks are inspiring and give an in depth understanding of the various topics.

Untitled Photo Sophie Fouchier

What's more it is free!!! Free entry to all the exhibitions, most of the talks and screenings. You can, as I did, pay 60 Euros for accreditation, which gives you access to the 'third floor', to portfolio reviews, access to agencies and priority access to the night screenings and some of the events during the  'professional week' which is the first week of the two week event.

It is not my intent to review the whole event here but I would like to highlight one of the exhibiting photojournalists, Brent Strirton, http://www.brentstirton.com/ . What a photographer, what an exceptional human being he is! OK there do appear to be some who are critical of the way he lights his subject - "you use flash in the day- why?" asked a member of the audience, in a condescending tone, at one of Brent's talks. He politely answered the question - a question that to me was simply irrelevant. I say Brent is an exceptional human being after listening to him speak about his Ivory Wars project. He is modest, articulate, passionate about his subjects and about factual, long form, journalism. He talks so much sense, measured  and conscise . He belies his stereotypical South African physical appearance. In a few hours I have the greatest respect for him and his achievements. Check out his work and the film Virunga National Park In Conflict.

 

Above all my experience at Visa Pour L'Image has caused me to reflect on my new venture Project28 . Having been in meetings with so many renowned photojournalists I have concluded that my research must go far deeper than perhaps I intended. Visa was also highly motivational so I really can't wait until it is time to shoot again, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are my next three venues. Over the last 24 hours I have been seeking the most cost effective travel arrangements and scouring AirBnB for the cheapest rooms available (the project does not yet have any funding!!).

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Project 28

15 August 16

Posted at 6:07

Project 28 is the working title of my latest, and hopefully greatest, documentary project. Born out of the result of the United Kindom's EU referendum result the project will require me to visit all of the 28 countries in the EU at the time of the referendum and to do so before Article 50 is completed.

My premise is that following the somewhat surprising and unexpected result the EU will never be quite the same again. It will certainly no longer consist of 28 members once the UK has exited. In fact the future make up of the EU will only become clear over the forthcoming months and years. Travel to and the right to live and work in EU member states is likely to become more complicated for British citizens. I have decided to visit and document a town in each member state prior the implementation of changes, what ever they may be.

Project 28 Map

Through a somewhat longwinded process I have identified a town in each of the member states. I started with Boston in Lincolnshire in the UK. I chose Boston as its electorate had the highest percentage, 75.6%, voting to leave the EU. I then looked for links between Boston and other EU towns through twinning or sistering. I continued the process until I had a target town in each country with, if somewhat tenuous, links to the other target towns. I prefered this somewhat random approach to going for capitals or choosing towns for any specific reason. Instead having identified a town I will then research its history, culture and in particular its position regarding the European Union.

Last week I went to Boston.

Boston From St Botolph 

Boston from St Botoplhs

I climbed the tower of St Botolph's, known as the Stump. The church dominates the quite picturesque market town. It was an ideal place from which to get bearings and some ariel landscapes.

Port of Boston

Port of Boston

Researching my chosen towns throws up many interesting facts and lots of ironies in relation to my project topic. Here is an example the port's slogan proudly declares "Port of Boston into Europe" yet the citizens have declared their desire to be out of Europe or at least the European Union.

European Food and Wine

European Food and Wine

The prime reason for the vote to leave stems from the massive migration from Eastern Europe countries of Poland, Latvia, Romania and Lithuania in particular. In 2011 13% of the population was made up of migrants from those countries exercising their rights under EU law. They work in the food processing plants of Boston and Spalding and in Lincolnshire's agricultural industry. I estimate that the percentage is now considerably higher than 13%.

I intend to chart my project's progress on this blog. As interesting as it is the blog won't analyse the political situation, I will do that in other places. i will share some images and some interesting details of what I come across in each town.

So to kick that off take a look at Boston's somewhat unique 'auction' where anything and everything is auctioned in the market from 9am until 2pm every Wednesday The Eddie Stobart Jacket

Project 28 will be the subject of a photobook - I have just 27 more countries to visit in order to gather the material! You can see regular updates on this blog.

If you would like more information about the project or would wished to get involved please contact me 

 

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Renaissance Photography Prize Finalist

02 August 16

Posted at 6:02

In my last couple of blogs I've talked about our Yesterday's News Exhibition and I've reviewed my first year as a documentary photographer. I talked about my objective to establish myself as a credible documentary photographer and despite how much hard work and effort is applied one undoubtedly needs a little luck. Well imagine my utter joy and amazement when a couple of weeks ago I received an email advising me that one of my images is a finalist in the Renaissance Photography Prize 2016. The image in question is titled Seti Sand Mine

Seti Sand Mine

Seti Sand Mine

 

So what does being a finalist in this International Photo Competition mean? Well first of all there are just 47 finalists from nearly 7000 entrants so that is no mean feat! Of the 47 finalists 12 are shortlisted for the various prizes. My image is not shortlisted but to be honest I'm elated that I'm a finalist. The finalist's images will be printed, framed and exhibited at Getty Images Gallery in London's West End from 6th to 17th September. Prints will be available for purchase at the exhibition and for a period after.

I've talked before about the need for exposure. Until now exposure usually comes at some sort of cost to my own pocket but this success gives me expsoure to a new, exciting audience although funded by others - how resfreshing!! The exhibition in September is free to enter other than the PV and prize giving on 7th September which is ticket only. Tickets are £55 each with proceeds going to the Lavander Trust and Breast Cancer Care.

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Year One As A Professional Photographer

22 June 16

Posted at 10:40

On Thursday evening I will visit the private view of the University of Westminster Undergraduate Degree Show Photography at the Truman Brewery

The Cohort BA Photography and Photographic Arts

Courtesy John Wallace

It is perhaps appropriate to reflect on the year, my first year as a professional photographer. During the last two years of my four year degree course it became clear that documentary photography would become my favoured practice. The combination of research, understanding and immersion in a given subject and then communicating primarily through images and or video is a process that gives me immense satisfaction. Having decided that would be my prime photographic activity (prime but not sole) it also became clear to me that I must accept I was not about to earn a fortune as a documentary photographer. I am in the fortunate position not to have to depend on my photography for a living equally, at least for now, I don't have to take on a job that would no doubt distract me from and intrude on my documentary projects. So I am in a privileged position not enjoyed by many of my peers. I was also clear in my mind that a) I could not simply keep on self funding projects (I'm not that privileged) and b) to be regarded as a 'professional' my work must be credible enough for others to commission me. Having done possibly more than OK in my degree and having reluctantly accepted that my projects so far had been credible I decided my first objective must be to build a reputation as a competent documentary photographer and to achieve that in a cost effective way. I acknowledged that it would be a slow process and would require a lot of hard work and a little luck.

My major project for my degree had been successful on many levels.

The Book

Gravette The Heart of Hometown America

The output had been a photo book, a documentary on a community in North West Arkansas. A measure of my success was coverage in the British Journal of Photography Gravette BJP article

I had started the year with the kind of exposure I was looking for. I figured if I was the only one of 50 or so exhibitors covered in such a magazine it could only be good.

I already had a good idea of my next project. I was going to follow up on the progress of aid agencies and charities six months after the earthquake that struck Nepal on 25th April 2015. I applied for a bursary to part fund the project. I had no doubt that I would be successful so when I wasn't it dawned on me that rejection was also likely to be a common theme of my photography career and something I should get used to.

I went to Nepal in November 2015 spending time with three charities. I also spent time independently meeting those affected by the earthquake. By the end of the year I had the task of editing a massive portfolio of images. I also had the task of planning how to use my work.

So fast forward to today and I ask myself what progress have I made? Well my initial project objective was to document the progress of aid agencies six months after the earthquake. I expected to be focussing on rebuilding and infrastructure but what I found is that the real damage caused by earthquakes is the accentuation of the problems that Nepalese people live with - chronic poverty, child labour, human trafficking, gender disparity, abuse etc. I became close to the charities I spent time with. As a result I offered to put on an exhibition in conjunction with and in aid of Kidasha a London based charity specialising in supporting children and families in Nepal. I did this in the knowledge that I was also collaborating with two other photographers in an exhibition in June. I soon found that I had bitten off quite a lot putting on two exhibitions in the space of about six weeks. Really it boiled down to me working on nothing else from March until today. It's been worth it. Although not in the plan I am proud that my first exhibition raised over £3000 for Kidasha and also provided awareness of both the charity and their work but also exposure of my work to a new audience. In early June Yesterday's News an immersive multi media event proved to be a rewarding experience working not only with two other photographers but also set designers, a film maker, a sound engineer, a poet, journalists and documentary film producers. This was a high profile event at Platform Southwark, again my work reached a new audience. Also almost a year to the date my work was again featured in BJP Yesterday's News

Whilst at the exhibition I received a visit from a guy who is selecting work from Photo Book projects for a RPS exhibition later this year. He came to advise me that work from Gravette The Heart of Hometown America has been selected.

In twelve short months I have funded and part completed a project that has not only given me exposure but has raised money for a good cause. That and my previous project have featured in BJP and also in FAD Magazine 

I have made some progress with my objective of establishing a reputation as a documentary photograher as I said earlier it will involve hard work and a little luck. It's fair to say in year one I've experienced both.

Durbar Square

 Durbar Square

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Yesterday's News

31 May 16

Posted at 3:39

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Just a week to go to the private view of Yesterday's News at Platform Southwark This is the next step in my Aftershock project

'a portrayal of the April 2015 earthquake’s impact on the people of Nepal six months after the event'. Yesterday's News is not

only a collaboration with two friends and fellow photographers Sophie Fauchier and Karen Block but also with set designers Jojo Fauchier and Darcy Davies, my daughter Jodie Chillery's production company Minty Films ,

journalist Tony Barber, film maker Jane Corbin, poet Mario Petrucci along with sound from Evan Lopez de Bergara.

I will be showing five images from the Aftershock project

Seti Sand Mine

Seti Sand Mine

Durbar Square

Durbar Square

Jyamrung

Jyamrung

Munira

Munira

Sana 

Sana

 

The exhibition will also see the premiere of a short film 'A Trilogy of Portraits'

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Nepal Ten Years On

07 August 15

Posted at 8:57

Swayumbhunath

In 2005 I spent sometime in Nepal, trekking in the Annapurna foothills, absorbing the vibrant atmosphere of Kathmandu and exploring in the Chitwan jungle.

Kathmandu

Kathmandu Durbar Square

Sadhu

Sadhu

I fell in love with the place, the people.

Children

especially the people - Nepalese children would quickly melt the hardest heart.

Funeral Pire

Funeral Pire

and the culture. In many ways time seemed to have stood still in Nepal (apart from the tourism, their lifeblood) things continue in the way they have for centuries.

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The scenery is amazing

Tara Top

Tara Top the high point of our trek

After the storm

One evening whilst trekking we were awoken in our tents by a tremendous storm. During the night much of our equipmet was blown away or destroyed. Together with our guides and porters we took refuge in a tiny cramped shed. And there we stayed for 24 hours until the unseasonal storm subsided. We experienced the tenacity of the Nepalese as our guides and porters gathered our equipment from far and wide, made repairs and took us on our way. A few days later we arrived back in Pokara and to our horror discovered that 13 French trekkers had perished in a mud slide just a few kilometres from where we were camped on the night of the storm.

So I have experienced just a taste of the kind of disaster that can strike in the region with no warning at all and I also experienced how the Nepalese take such events in their stride.

 

Now fast forward to April 2015 - a series of earthquakes devastated Nepal. Over 8000 people were killed, over 16000 injured and 2.8 million people displaced. The buildings pictured above and many many more were destroyed. I have made a significant career change since 2005. For the last for years I have studied photography at the University of Westminster equiping myself with skills, education and experience enabling me to forge a career as a documentary photographer. Having graduated this year I am embarking on my first documentary project as a full time freelance photographer.

My project is to visually document the progress/imact of the aid agencies response to the 2015 earthquakes six months down track. To make this project a reality I need some support so I have launched a Crowdfunder to help with my expenses. To find out more about the project and how you could become part of it click here   Nepal Six Months Later

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Morgadio Da Calcada Provesende

30 June 15

Posted at 1:45

Just spent a long weekend in the Douro in a small village called Provesende. If you don't have a ticket for Glastonbury it is a great idea to leave the country for a few days whilst it is on.

So we stayed at  Morgadio Da Calcada    situtaed on a vineyard in Provesende above the Douro valley. The area is famous for Port wine produced from grapes grown on mountain vineyards in the paradise that is the Douro.

Douro Valley

Douro Valley Pinhao

Our host, Manuel Villas-Boas, (yes AVB is his cousin) made our stay infinitely more interesting than it may have been. Manuel seems to know everyone in the whole Douro and beyond and is proud that mention of his name or a flash of his card will open doors or at least secure a good deal. Manuel took us for a surprise before a late breakfast on our first morning.

The Bakery

The Bakery Provesende

The surprise was a visit to the village bakery to collect the morning's bread straight from the oven. There was something of a wait as the baker had overslept due to a heavy night with family visitors. It appeared to phase nobody, just meant breakfast was later than planned. The baker collects wood foor the fire each day, bakes around 200 identical loaves most days and extra for festivals and weekends. The bakery is really basic, the bread is gorgeous. Can't believe EU regulations (or our interpretation of them) would allow a bakery like this to fucntion in the UK. Shame.

The following day the baker overslept again much to his wife's amusement.

Mateus Palace

Mateus Palace

Between Vila Real and Provesende is Mateus. There is a palace at Mateus and the more observant will recognise the palace being the very same as in on the label of the iconic Mateus Rose wine. The surprising thing is that Mateus Rose is produced in Porto not Mateus, it has no connection with Mateus or the family who own the palace, the image of the palace is just licensed for use on the bottles.

The Cat Won

I was fortunate enough to witness the 'jack the lad' dog of Provesende, Lost, getting his come uppance when he came across a feral cat that happened to be caring for a couple of kittens. The cat initially chased Lost away, the dog soon realising he had something of a size advantage snapped back grow;ling and advancing towards the cat. The cat then did somethjing I've only ever seen in Tom and Jerry cartoons, it bristled its fur from tail to neck and then stood rooted to the spot staring agressively at Lost. After what seemed like an age the stand off ended with Lost turning and whimpering away. Amazing!

 

 

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Environmental Photographer of the Year 2015

23 June 15

Posted at 12:19

Yesterday I visited the first day of the exhibition of The Environmental Photographer of the Year 2015 at the Royal Geographic Society in Knightsbridge.  Environmental Photographer of the Year 2015 The exhibition include images from amateur and professional photographers from across the world. The aim is to raise awareness of environmental and social issues and raise awareness of their causes.The photography is quite impressive and it is clear that there is a welcome spectrum of experience and ability. I say welcome as I beleive giving amateurs/beginners to have their work dsiplayed alongside more experienced and professional photographers is both motivational and refreshing.

The exhibition is not perhaps a cohesive as it could be. The display flits between locations and types of environmental issues. As in the main there is just a single or few iamges of any particular problem the only theme the viewer picks up is on of rampant consumerism and apalling waste management on a global scale. I am sure many of the images come from larger bodies of work but that was not clear from the exhibition. Because there are so many different issues and locations portrayed the viewer may easily become blaise to the real issues. That is true particularly when so many of the images are perhaps soft on the mind, they are colourful pleasing images to observe and even with the accompanying texts they sanitise horrendus situations. 

I considered that Burtynsky uses fine art photography to get the real messages across why does this not seem to work in this exhibition. Well, first I guess,  as I said this is a display of single images of a miriad of issues with the environment as the only common theme. But beyond that is presentation, Burtynsky's work is large format and presented large. Of course one could not expect this competition for all levels of photographer using all levels of equipment to replicate Burtynsky's impact however it is presentation that lets this exhibition down in terms of its potential impact. The photographs are all the same size and presented uniformly, window mounted and framed. Worse still is the failure to use non reflective glass. Fighting with the reflections dimishes the impact of the images. One of the first entries in the visitors book highlights this shortcoming. A variety of image sizes, some at least if not all unframed and if framed non reflective material fronting the image would have improved the viewers experience and the messages no end.

Aside from those gripes I recommend a visit, it is free and the standard of photography is high. I do fear that this partocular exhibition will do little in terms of a call to action for addressing the world's environmental problems whereas to do think photography, still and video, has a major part to play in both education and provoking change.

The exhibition rusns at the Royal Geographical Society 1 Kensington Gore London SW7 2AR 10 till 5 daily until 10th July 2015 and the at the Grizedale Forrest Visitor Centre Forrestry Commission England Cumbria 18 July until 6 September 2105

 

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British Journal of Photography Article

14 June 15

Posted at 8:48

Well blogging has taken a back seat for some time now. Why? Well I have been completing my final year at University of Westminster. I am pleased to say I have achieved a BA Honours Photography degree with First Class Honours. My major project is a documentary photo book on a community in North West Arkansas. The project is currently being exhibited in the Free Range Graduate show at the Truman Brewery Brick Lane London.

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Above a photograph showing someone looking at my book and with some prints of images from the book displayed on the left.

Today an article about my work was published in the British Journal of Photography online, it's been the 'cream on the cake' of this week for me. Take a look at it  here

You can see more about the project and progress here   Gravett The Heart of Hometown America

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Wembley Stadium

21 February 15

Posted at 2:32

Wembly Park tube station is just two stops on the Metropolitan Line from my campus (Northwick Park) so I go past the stadium when travelling to and from Uni. I've often thought I should take a stroll around the stadium when there is nothing on. Usually I only visit Wembley for an Arsenal match, prior to last year something that has been rare since the new stadium opened, or to a gig. So yesterday with a couple of hours to kill I went and took a look.

First Sight

This is the first sight of the stadium as you emerge from Wembley Park Station. Not the first time a 'bus has been parked at Wembley'.

Wembley Lights

I walked to the stadium from Harrow (further than I thought) so coming in from the west this is the first image that caught my eye.

Car Park

Next was the multi storey car park which is hidden behind Meccano like sheet of metal that have too much of a resemblance to Manchester United's colurs for my liking.

Wembley Stadium 1

The famous arch which is impressive from a distance is something different close up. The old Wembley stadium was demolished in 2003 and the new one opened in 2007.

Hello Wembley

It is all a bit ghostly when there are no events on but a good opportunity to observe aspects you would miss completely on a match day,

London Designer

both inside the stadium and outside.

Five a Side

I was pleased to see a majority of the 5 a side players had Arsenal shirts on.

Gate E

Gate E at the other end of the arch.

This Way

Direction signage looks somewhat over the top but necessary on Cup Final day.

Main Entrance

The main entrance.

Bobby Moore Entrance

and above it the Bobby Moore statue and entrance.

Booby Moore

And here is a close up of the statue.

Wembley Way

Here is Sir Bobby's view of Wembley Way.

At Wembley

The view of the stadium approaching from Wembley Way.

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