This morning when I woke, I was thinking about pictures – this is not unusual for me. I think about images a lot – and this morning I thought about what makes a good picture. I take pictures – not so many under Covid restrictions because I work mainly on the street – but how do I know it’s a good picture? Firstly, I suppose, you have to define what constitutes a “good picture”, and as we are all different, then what makes a good picture to one does not to another; yes, it’s personal, as they say. There is no simple answer.
Recently, I asked on Twitter who amongst my ‘followers’ sold their pictures on line and if they did would they mind sharing their experiences; the reason being I wish to sell some of my own pictures on line and I thought I could benefit from the experience of those who had gone before, as it were. I had some interesting comments and help.
Like many others I guess, I edit pictures whilst listening to music. I always have done, ever since my darkroom days. I even write whilst listening to music – though there cannot be any vocals, too distracting. Often the music dictates what I edit and indeed the way I might edit it. And, of course, some pictures just call for a specific genre or mood of music.
In a conversation I was having with fellow photographer John Meehan over on ‘WhatsApp’ he quoted the phrase “Soot and whitewash” to describe prints using an economy of tones in mono printing. The conversation started after I published the image shown above of Saltley Gas Works in Birmingham taken back in the late 60’s – early 70’s. Very reduced tonal scale, very grainy and even scratched. I said it was redolent of the times. John’s phrase came from a book called “Young Meteors” by Martin Harrison in which he discusses photographers and their styles in the years 1957-1965. The tonal compression style of McCullin, Bulmer et al is dramatic. The images jump off the page. I wrote in my previous piece on WhatsApp how Saltley, where I was born and lived for a few years, has left a strong impression on me, reflected in this Gas Works shot. For me *“Soot and Whitewash” has 2 meanings: The first, clearly, is the graphical reduction of tones in a black and white print; The second meaning reflecting …
This image was made underneath the arches of the 16thC Stonebow in the centre of ancient Lincoln, in the East Midlands of England. Before Covid it became the natural haunt of an ever-changing group of Jehovahs witnesses; capturing – or hoping to at least – the attention of the thousands who pass by on their way from downhill Lincoln, the commercial part of the city, to uphill Lincoln, where the Cathedral and Lincoln Castle stand, the tourist part of the city. Thousands of tourists and local shoppers pass through here everyday. Once upon a long time ago, amazingly, motor buses did the same, long since stopped. This day, a homeless man and his dog sat under the historic shelter too. In the time I stood there, several minutes, the pious Jehovah’s Witnesses, with their scrubbed shiny faces and their clarion – and yet ironic – message of “Find Family Happiness” paid him no attention; cast him ne’er a glance; certainly they didn’t offer him or his dog any comfort. There seemed something utterly at odds …
In late 2017-early 2018, The Collection – a modern extension to Lincoln’s Usher Gallery – held a small exhibition of the photographs of Harry Burton. Who? You may ask. The Story of Harry Burton. Without doubt Burton, himself an Egyptologist, was considered the finest photographer of antiquities of his day. It was natural, therefore, for him to be chosen by Carter as the photographer who would document the excavation of the tomb of Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings near to Thebes – modern day Luxor. Harry Burton – on the left of the picture above – is shown with Howard Carter at the dig site in the Valley of the Kings. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Who was Burton? Where did he come from?
Recently, I was musing on the relevance of images to each of us and how that changes from person to person. People see an image and it means different things to each person. The image effects them. To some that effect is deep and meaningful, visceral even, and to others it’s trite and meaningless. I can’t account for that except it’s perhaps what allows us to “edit” the millions of images we see, into piles – important/trivial, like/dislike – and I have to say, in the main, that’s how my own editing works. Binary. On / off – like / dislike. Phil Cosker, a dear friend of mine, a photographer, writer and all round Renaissance Man, produced a set of images nearly 40 years ago. Recently he displayed them – printed very large – in a number of churchyards around Lincolnshire. Even more recently he has included them on his web site <<<HERE>>> under the title “Landscapes”. I was assisting Phil with his web site at the time and as I was uploading the images, …
This is my 3rd picture by way of a contribution to the “One a day for a year” project initiated by David Barrett, a British photographer living in Gloucestershire. David says the project, which he calls “Trip around the sun” was inspired by Barry @pixelsonapage and ‘The Once More Around The Sun’ project shot by Joel Meyerowitz. “It’s not intended to produce a masterpiece everyday” he says. Adding, “It’s more a survey of your everyday”. This is my image No3. It’s a wooden mask I have at home. The developing results of the project reside over on Twitter under the hashtag: #365aroundthesun PDBarton Lincoln 03.01.2020
This image is of ‘Human Artists Mannequins’ dumped in a vacated coffee shop. Lincoln 2019.
An exhibition of picture by the artist Jacob Lawson opened in the Sam Scorer Gallery in Lincoln this week. It’s hard to believe this is Jacob’s first show. What is not hard to believe is the work is strong, strident and selling well, The first images were snapped up by a buyer from Germany. This is a must see show. Be ready for an overload for the eye. If there is one criticism it would be there is simply too much. Go to see if you can. The show is open until 4pm on the 22nd December. You can find information about Jacob, his work and the gallery here… Sam Scorer Gallery. Lincoln PDBarton. Lincoln, 16th December 2019.