The Art of Photography:Mike Mudd's Learning Log

The Art of Photography:Mike Mudd's Learning Log

McCullin (2013) If ever you lacked balls in your own practice

General ReadingPosted by Mike Sun, March 17, 2013 13:36:36

I guess that anyone with a more than passing interest in photography has heard of Don McCullin, the eminent war photographer, and one of the key practitioners who have changed how war imagery has been delivered to the masses during the course of the latter twentieth century.

His recently published film regarding his work as a photographer, and to use words with which I expect he would disagree - as a 'war photographer' provides a fascinating insight into the mind of experience of such an important figure.

From the perspective of student and writer of this study blog, McCullin as a reference ultimately provides a marker to my own practice, especially within the remit of commitment to your work.

He has, throughout his career maintained a diligent duty, in that he never gave up, and he maintained his reportage philosophy in that the negative elements of war need to be made know to the western world - via the medium of photography. In essence the basics are;

stick to your guns, believe in your work and never give up - I like this attitude, I can't say I can emulate, but the philosophy is right.

McCullin practiced his work in some of the most horrific and war ravaged areas of recent world history covering wars and conflicts in Cyprus, Congo, Biafra, Vietnam, Northern Ireland, Cambodia and Lebanon.

Now, from the above list in modern war geography it may be viewed that McCullin was an out and out adrenalin junkie, seeking his next fix of adventure and fame from and by the next Times Sunday supplement published image; either of casualty in war, murder or famine. However, what becomes apparent is that McCullin as a man, and as a human being, this essence always pervaded his character and ultimately affected McCullin the photographer, with scenes on occasion not being photographed or with civilians in war torn areas being assisted rather than photographed.

From the documentary, it becomes evident that McCullin is a morale man, on occasion not recording scenes which would have certainly aided his career at the time. He has, throughout his career maintained a very distinct sense of right and wrong, this I think has set him apart from other practitioners operating at the same time.

I don't expect to be a war photographer, however I expect to maintain my standards, never give up, keep improving and on occasion ensure my moral compass is working, some scenes need to be left alone...

McCullin is certainly a film worth watching...

  • Comments(0)//

Giles Duley returns to Afghanistan

General ReadingPosted by Mike Fri, February 08, 2013 21:57:50
Photographer Giles Duley returns to Afghanistan – audio slideshow

Two years ago Giles Duley stepped on a bomb in Afghanistan and suffered horrific injuries. Here he tells us of his courageous return to the country to photograph the innocent victims of the war

Read Giles Duley's account of his return to Afghanistan in the Observer New Review this Sunday.

  • Comments(0)//

Colour.. quite poignant at the minute for TAOP

General ReadingPosted by Mike Sun, December 09, 2012 14:23:48

  • Comments(0)//

When to and when not to take a photograph....

General ReadingPosted by Mike Tue, July 31, 2012 21:00:16

An interesting article in the Guardian regarding the experiences of war photographers and news photographers - who despite adversity keep taking the images often despite the personal tragedy of scene, these professionals have that trained behaviour, the photographer in them kicks into gear, and despite the horrors they witness, they photograph, and ask questions later. A true mental focus and personal dedication to their art.

This work from Grame Robertson in particular, where the photographer himself had been wrestled to the floor by police during the 2004 hunting protests says it all. He was in the middle of a fractious and violent situation - yet still saw the shot, not only saw it, but took it too!

Despite the fact that all of these photographers are all paid professionals in their field, something can be gleaned from this; Use your camera!! take the opportunist shots! Live your passion and work it! Always be thinking about 'the next potential'. For me whether the environment is innitially mundane or whether the environment is not perceivably accomodating for you and your camera, don't be afraid! and don't accept that your regular environment is not to be photographed, IT IS!

Work it!

  • Comments(0)//

Gunther's trip

General ReadingPosted by Mike Fri, July 27, 2012 21:03:48

Back in 1989, as the Berlin Wall fell, Gunther Holtorf and his wife Christine set out on what was meant to be an 18-month tour of Africa in their Mercedes Benz G Wagen. Now, with more than 800,000km (500,000 miles) on the clock, Gunther is still going.

The German former airline executive has travelled the equivalent of 20 times around the planet in the vehicle - which he calls Otto. He says he has never had a serious breakdown. Recently in Vietnam, Canadian-born photographer David Lemke joined Gunther on one section of his epic journey.

Just wonderful and all under the radar or modern blogging and sponsorship!

  • Comments(0)//

Quadrophenia: Ethan A Russell

General ReadingPosted by Mike Sun, July 01, 2012 20:36:19

Quadrophenia Photography, Ethan A Russell.

The album Quadrophenia, by British Pop/Rock band The Who was released in 1973, a year before I was born. This album was part of the fabric of the many 'things' I would ponder over as a child that resided in the bedroom of my older brothers, this gatefold double album belonged to my middle elder brother, David (the Mod). In addition to the double vinyl album itself, of equal importance is the story board of 30 pages of black and white images by Ethan Russell - commissioned by Pete Townsend, the albums author.

Quadrophenia, the music, the story, the whole thing appealed to me enormously from too young an age (9yrs old).The album was recently re visited on BBC Four, , with interviews with band members, management, models from the images within the album cover and the photographer Ethan Russell.

The creation of the album and the details of the photo shoot are stories in their own right, photographer Ethan Russell was at the height of his powers at the time having established himself as one of the key recorders of the swinging sixties in London.

However my enduring relationship with the album has a far more personal narrative and context relating to my life rather than just an appreciation of Townsends London 1960's story of youthful self discovery, a relationship which corresponds with a pre internet information/ distraction age, where an object like an album gatefold was studied and reflected upon time and time again, amassing a very personal set of thoughts and reflections - an activity perhaps lost now in an age where the volume of material and literal bombardment of music literature and photographic images via the internet is immense. I have, since 9 years old, been intrigued by this story, the music, and importantly the images portrayed, and the photography has always remained a more striking memory than the subsequent film with Phil Daniels, Sting etal.

On the back of the recent documentary, I had to take a re look at the images from the album, with perhaps a more critical OCA eye, and try to establish their appeal especially with influence of current work towards assignment 2 TAOP and graphical forms.

I have this album on CD now, with its 30 page spread of images - but I procured the original gatefold many years ago and the print size of the original is certainly part of the impact, along with the more readable tangible nature of this larger print.

Photographically the images are very graphic, bold shapes and lines depict the story, bold horizontal line of terraced houses, repetition, balance and imbalance within composition to aid the story and draw focus. The element of balance within the images aids the particular detail within the narrative, where action shots are presented with a sense of imbalance, and more thoughtful elements of the story are pictured with greater balance.

One contemplative image which does however present imbalance is the picture of the young mod Jimmy, parked and on one knee fiddling with his Vespa (I've owned these and they do always need mechanical fettling - more than Lambrettas in my experience), while the band with a company of young girls (models from other shots in the booklet) are exiting the Hammersmith Odeon towards a car. This image is discussed in the documentary from a narrative point of view, the band are presented as a 1970's band, with obvious styling from the era, where Jimmy the mod is presented as a figure from 1963 - when the film was set. He is alone and a relic, the past, he is exemplified by a strong creation of in balance.

The figure of Jimmy the mod is also presented in a number of pictures as a single figure - a point within the frame; again such work aids the narrative of Jimmy’s journey of self discovery, creating a sense of the individual alone.

The final image in the story, Jimmy walking barefoot on the sand along the shoreline, his singularity is presented with Jimmy as the local focal point in the image, his place in the image is planted and highlighted by the background graphic triangle provided by the break in the headland.

Revisiting this work, which has a very personal history to me has proven to be very timely i.e. while studying TAOP, and in particular 'Elements of design'. The very strong use of graphical composition by Ethan Russell, has given a great series of graphic examples in context, examples which with less of a discerning vocabulary and eye were already quite significant to me personally. I have, over the last twenty years, always returned to these images, it is now, while studying TAOP that I find I can better appreciate and articulate his use of graphical composition within this visual story telling.

  • Comments(0)//

Soho - by Anders Petersen

General ReadingPosted by Mike Mon, May 14, 2012 10:29:30

I love the high contrast drama and poetic personal story telling feel to this work. A style I love and have been applying without knowing any similarities - the nature of the drama from possibly more mundane scenes really appeals.

  • Comments(0)//

Drowning World by Gideon Mendel

General ReadingPosted by Mike Sun, May 13, 2012 17:58:42

An interesting and very current world affairs project, the very personal nature of the story via portraits and by the commentary from the author and the use of an old Roliflex all adding to this personal view of this a very local yet global issue.

  • Comments(0)//
« PreviousNext »