All posts filed under: Documentary

Book Review: Small Town Inertia

Title: Small Town Inertia. Photographer: J A Mortram. Essays: Lewis Bush. Paul Mason. Poem:  Jamie Thrashivoulou Reference: ISBN 9781908457363 First published:  Hard back 2017 by Blue Coat Press, Liverpool Website: smalltowninertia.co.uk Size:310mm x 215mm x 20mm Jim Mortram, the master of the Long form of photo story, has released his first book. I’ve known Jim Mortram for a few years and all the while he’s been building up to producing this book; closely working with his community in and around his hometown in Norfolk. Jim’s output is reminiscent of others who have chosen to highlight this sector of our community. The disadvantaged and the disabled. He is following on* from others like: Bill Brandt, who in the 1930’s produced hauntingly beautiful images in the East End of London, the North East of England, and Yorkshire. Much of his work was published in the excellent Picture Post in the 1940’s. Nick Hedges photographs of the poor taken for ‘Shelter’ in areas of deprivation around the UK in the 1960’s and 70’s. About his work Hedges said… ‘Although these photographs …

UK Closed doors

The order of things in Britain has changed over the last few years. It has changed at a pace unlike any I’ve seen in my life. Or, does it just seem to be changing faster because I’m getting older? I can’t tell. I can only view the pace of change from my own perspective, distorted or otherwise. Many of our institutions we once thought rock solid have gone or changed so they’re no longer recognisable. It’s inevitable, I suppose. Change has altered much of the fabric of our society,  none more so than the media. The BBC, long regarded as the bastion of independence and autonomy seems to have buckled with its new apparent right leaning bias. The Newspaper industry, always powerful, now seems to have gained a renewed influence as its many independent elements have coalesced around certain powerful individuals. It wasn’t always like that. Britain has a fine record of independent newspapers dotted around the country. The Stamford Mercury, for example, Britain’s oldest continuously published newspaper title having been running since the early …

Hotel Chef. Karnataka, India.

Occupations. A developing set of pictures of people related to their occupation. Check back regularly for additions.

Many years ago I saw the work of  August Sander, a German Photographer 1876-1964 (you can read about him here and see some of his work). I was inspired. The book he published in 1929, ‘Face of our Time’ shows pictures, portraits of people. Ordinary people, less ordinary people, the man, and woman in the street. The book contains 60 portraits. It is quite literally a snapshot of the time. I have chosen in my own humble way to do something similar, grouping the images on Facebook and Twitter with the tag #occupations. I am capturing people both here in Lincoln and the wider UK plus images from further afield, all featuring a person. Just a person. I hope you like the set. I too have hopes of producing a book of these images at some time.    

Documentary: That humble cup of tea.

Here in England, we drink a great deal of tea. It’s drunk throughout the day by much of the population. According to the UK Tea and Infusions Association, the British consume 165 Million cups of tea a day (60.2 billion cups a year). By comparison, 70 million cups of coffee are consumed daily in the UK. The title of World champion tea drinkers (by head-of-population that is) goes to the Republic of Ireland. Great Britain is the 2nd largest consumer of tea. The largest producer of tea is China with an annual production of about 2.2 Million tonnes, with India next, producing just about half that amount. As tea is drunk so much here in the UK you would think we would know all about it. Judging from my own lack of knowledge that isn’t so. For example, tea – Camellia Sinensis from which tea is obtained- is a small tree*, not a bush as we would have thought. And, it’s so rigorously trimmed by plucking the leaves it could almost be considered a Bonsai ( …

Documentary: Washing clothes in India

One thing immediately noticed when in India is, no matter how relatively poor the people are their clothes are clean and bright. Rarely do you see people wearing dirty or even unpressed clothes? How is this achieved in a country where the use of washing machines, though growing, is very rare? The answer, of course, is the same way it has been achieved for hundreds, if not thousands of years. The dobhi washerman is the man instrumental in the process of keeping India clean.  Hundreds of thousands of these workers exist all over India hand washing clothes all day. It’s a grueling task in the hot sun, often up to their knees in water, these workers soap, scrub, soak, rinse, wring and dry, – and even press with coal-fired irons – the full range of clothes for every type of household or business. Even the higher priced hotels seem to use this services, as marks inside my collars seemed to show when they returned from the ‘hotel laundry’. On top of the long and hard hours of work, there …

Documentary: Brick making in India.

Here in Europe, most bricks used for building are machine made with only special bricks being “hand thrown” – hand made. If you are of a certain age you may remember LBC – London Brick Company – Flettons, or common bricks as they were called. Billions were made and laid after the war in housing projects all over the country. The LBC common bricks were made in and around Bedford. As you drove down the M1  you could see dozens of chimneys in the brick yards churning out smoke making bricks from London clay. This clay had a carboniferous content so the cost of firing was less than conventional clay. In India the process is somewhat different, using the “clamp” technique (which produces an intermittent type of kiln as opposed to continuous) to fire the hand thrown bricks. Labour intensive, hard work defines the process. The clay-rich soil is tempered by hand with water to make the mouldable clay which is then scooped up by hand and thrown into the metal moulds – hence hand …