Saturday, 5 November 2011

The Last Resort Revisited

Martin Parr. Rarely does a day pass in my professional life when he isn’t mentioned by, or to me. Martin Parr, one of the world’s greatest living photographers and behemoth of photographic history. His third book The Last Resort: Photographs of New Brighton, is perhaps the most influential on my career - well, it's certainly top five. It was his first book in colour, and what a way to do it. Bam! Flicking through the pages a kaleidoscopic bulb burns straight on to the retina, it’s a saturated slap about the face.

The photographs were taken in the Liverpool suburb and working class seaside resort of New Brighton over three seasons, 1983-1985. The Last Resort was published a year later - a year in which I spent my summer behind the counter of Weymouth Joke Shop selling cans of 'Instant Shit’ and ‘Heavy Drinker’ caps to Bristolians and Brummies on holiday during factory shutdown. I first saw the book aged 18 in the library of the art college where I was studying for a National Diploma in photography. It was not a book of war photographs or famine but it was Parr’s front line and one I recognized as my youth. The book was a genuine revelation that a photographer didn’t have to fly to far-flung places to photograph suffering, horror and despair; you could just get on a bus.

I’d like to think I would have arrived at the style of photographs I take regardless of Martin Parr, but he certainly hastened the process. Professionally his presence has sometimes been a burden; though more often that not it's been a great benefit. Whatever, I accept the influence. It is 25 years since Parr self published the first edition. The images have become as familiar to me as my own family album. As homage to the work, earlier this year I packed the 1998 edition by Dewi Lewis publishing and headed to New Brighton on a Bank Holiday Weekend photographic pilgrimage to stomp in the footsteps of Parr.

I was born beside the seaside, beside the sea; any reason to return to the coast is welcome and welcome to New Brighton. Arriving on the Wirral Line the neck hair prickled. Through habit on any coastal trip, I deployed myself straight to the seafront and stared across the River Mersey at the 30+ wind turbines that turned steadily enough to huff New Brighton away. The resorts decline was protracted. The, 'I’m bigger than Blackpool Tower' (New Brighton Tower) was dismantled in 1920, the pier finally demolished in 78’. By the time Parr arrived it was on the fringes of ruin, but it still had the open air bathing pool. A documentary photographers jackpot, the then largest open-air pool in the country provides half a dozen plates in The Last Resort. I imagined Parr photographing the Miss New Brighton pageant wearing his trademark sandals and stooping in Speedos to shoot among the tiered benches designed to seat 20,000 sun seekers in addition to 4000 bathers. Bulldozers levelled the pool in the summer of 1990 after winter storms had caused irreparable damage - well damage the council didn’t want to pay for. A replacement has finally been nodded for approval. I squinted at the size - it would embarrass the more affluent garden pond.

On Marine Promenade I crouched in the exact spot where Parr photographed two children dribbling ice cream in front of a weather shelter and electric blue painted railings. Since he focused the 55mm lens on that Plaubel Makina 67 rangefinder camera, the railings have been layered brown, white and black then weather whipped back through black, white, brown, to original 'Parr blue' and, in places, to green underneath. What struck me was how close he must have been - an undeniable presence.

In Vale Park I knelt at the bandstand where Parr flashed for a fraction of a second in front of a woman poised in shiny pink leotard and skirt. On my visit the dancer was replaced by the Northwest Concert Band. As they tuned up, I tuned out and noticed the same bin from Parr’s shot on the parks periphery. The updated striped deckchairs still gently cradled the elderly and infirm. I snapped the scene as those able to stand for the national anthem did so.

There were hundreds of cars along the Prom but where were the people? Mostly in their cars, texting on mobile phones, talking on mobile phones, reading, staring but, mostly eating. They still came to New Brighton but there’s not much to do when you get there, except walk. The 15-mile Wirral Coastal Walk, dotted with Rhubarb and Custard uniformed Lifeguards, passes through New Brighton and a dog is a good excuse to use it. I photographed the dog walkers, ice cream eaters, pigeon feeders, model boat enthusiasts and the families hooking for crabs I met along the way. I photographed outside Susie’s Ice Cream Parlour and Legends Café Bar, but was prevented from shooting in the Bright Spot Arcade. It’s impossible as a photographer familiar with The Last Resort, not to see Parr parts in every shot. Alsatian dogs, dogs with tongues hanging out, crying children, elderly women in waterproof headscarves, scattered chips on the pavement. All have succeeded in history.

In the Queens Royal hotel, a procession of framed portraits of Miss New Brightons wearing one-piece swimsuits and knees-together sepia smiles, looked down over the wedding guests whose overfed buttocks gyrated to Lady Gaga - buttocks that would never find sepia-framed fame. I showed The Last Resort to as many locals as I could. Bridesmaid Claire was too young to remember much of old New Brighton and was uncomfortable with a stranger showing her a bright colour photograph of a naked boy balancing next to the litter strewn Marina Lake. She drank some more to forget. In The Olive Tree, Ray remembered working at Wilkie’s covered fairground 13 hours a day and the girls that would send him ‘Remember me?’ letters. He remembered days on the beach where day-trippers stood shoulder to shoulder. "Now everyone is just wider and wider,” he says wryly. None of the locals I showed The Last Resort to had heard of Martin Parr (I briefly considered moving to New Brighton). They talked more of Thatcher than of photographers. Some had seen the photographs before, they thought, somewhere, but not sure where.

On initial publication, The Last Resort divided photographers, critics and the public alike - still does. The defining moment of colour photography or the rape of noble and traditional practice? Some thought the content sneering and cruel; others affectionate and humanistic. There was no Flickr, Facebook or TwitPic to forewarn what was to come - it just flew into our laps like a chucked can of rainbow paint. Arriving in New Brighton I expected residents to react with outrage that these types of photographs were taken and that I’d brought them back into their consciousness, but no one minded. I’d hoped to find some of the individuals photographed. Perhaps the ice cool girl in the ice cream shop married someone like Ray and now both run a pub on Victoria Parade. No one recognized the individuals in the photographs but everyone recognized a little of themselves in them. Without exception they all felt sad. Sad what New Brighton once was and, despite attempts at regeneration, would probably never be again? The Last Resort was read as simply that - the last of a proud, great seaside tradition, where Mr Punch Swazzled, “That’s the way to do it!” Where The Beatles once headlined in 1961 at the Tower Ballroom for 5d a ticket, and where Gerry and his Pacemakers belted out their anthem across the Mersey. I always read it as the last resort - the place you would least want to go.

As I beat a retreat from New Brighton I too felt sad. There’s one thing the English seaside does well and that’s nostalgia. Leafing through the book my youth flickered across the pages in a visual echo of Smiths Crisps, Milky Way chocolate bars, Kwik Save carrier bags, factor two suntanned mums, prams and Pepsi cans, chip wrappers overflowing from wire rubbish bins and the cheap worn white shoes; so many white shoes. And this is what strikes me as the importance of documentary photography and film making. I’m not yet 40 and the images provoke thought and trigger memories of a past generation. This is why I will always be a photographer; to photograph what is real, to record the present in an attempt to preserve the past.

I email Parr my bank holiday snaps, he replies that he has returned to New Brighton a good few times and that it’s changed beyond all recognition: He says “Of course, now you could not shoot naked children the way I did then.” Unaware of what I can photograph today that I might not next year, I grab my camera and blink into the sunshine. It’s bright, but not quite technically brilliant dazzling New Brighton Martin Parr bright.

A version of this feature first appeared in issue #1 of Hungry Eye Magazine

Friday, 15 July 2011

How I Shot the Royal Wedding

Central London is packed. No one moves. A man sobs, another coughs, birds flutter, silence returns. It’s just after 9am on September 6th 1997. A giant screen in Hyde Park shows a gun carriage taking the coffin of Diana, Princess of Wales on a four-mile procession to Westminster Abbey. Every minute of the journey a single bell chimes. On top of the Royal Standard draped coffin are lilies from her brother and sons, Princes William and Harry, a poignant card reads ‘Mummy.’ After the service, I joined the route of the funeral cortege that would take Diana on her final journey to the Spencer family home in Northamptonshire and waited for the shot.

I had been in London for just over a year trying to find my vocation as a photographer. I thought an iconic image of the hearse would be a valuable addition to my portfolio, to show commitment, dedication and the ability to identify important historical moments. As I waited, the price sticker on the sole of a shoe worn by a woman kneeling nearby caught the eye. I crouched to frame, there was quiet applause and the twirl of tossed long stem roses, a whoosh, and the hearse had gone along with both picture opportunities. On the long walk to find the nearest open pub (it was on Upper Street 3.5 miles away) I photographed the flags flying half-mast and considered whether breaking news photography would be my discipline.

Two years later confirmed it would not. On assignment for the Sunday Times Magazine shooting reportage on the Queen’s Royal Tour to South Africa I travelled around with the royal press pack. On one occasion we arrived at a school classroom in Alexandra Township outside Johannesburg. The pack rushed from the coach to secure a similar vantage point and waited. I was unfettered to explore with my camera. Hours later Betty arrived. The townships children were everywhere; they danced and sang to the Queen and waved her off with their little flags. A man in a suit then collected the flags and boarded the coach. A departing scuffed huffed cloud of dust erased any evidence we had been there.

It is with good cheer then, that I anticipate the more joyous occasion of the Royal Wedding between Prince William and Catherine Middleton. A two-day reportage for the Telegraph Magazine has been in the diary since January removing the pressure to be officially involved and delivering a handsome payday. I even had to turn down German news magazine STERN when a dual-shoot compromise couldn’t be agreed. My brief for the reportage is to document the commoners that line the route; to do a ‘Dench’, reveal the gritty underbelly of life as a royal supporter and produce the antithesis to the inevitable schmaltz to be paraded across the pages of the Daily Mail and Express newspapers. Well, that’s how I interpreted the brief and it’s right up my Mall.

At 10am on the day before, I meet Jessica who will be writing detailed captions for the photographs. This could be irksome for Jessica, a respected staff member deployed to shadow a snapper. If she is irked it doesn’t show and we strut as equals towards Buckingham Palace. I tried to convince the editor to let me do the words and pictures. I’m glad she declined. Jessica is thorough and discreet and the company is welcome. On the way I learn heavyweight photographers Zed Nelson and Simon Roberts will also be contributing adding a bit of friendly competition for page space. I repeat-remind myself to shoot verticals to try and nail a cover.

Along the route we gather micro-features from the royal nutters with Roald Dahl character names embedded on the front line of Great Britain. Americans, Christine and Olivia Wofford carry a large Yellow W and K around to photograph at picture postcard locations. Rosalind Lumb and Wendy Huffwaite peruse a book of Royal Wedding poems. Dulwich Public Schoolgirls Amelia Coe and India Marlow-Prince quaff fizz in their customised pink ‘Will & Kate Forever’ T-Shirts while across the road, tiara topped Amelia Asquith and Charlotte Dunsmore pay their respects at the memorial of the Queen Mother. Opposite Westminster Abbey a more fevered crowd lay in wait. Cynthia McAllister propels a giddy cackle at her husband Phillip whose war medals clink together. Further along, Darci Richards entertains Granny with a strum on the guitar. The mood has been jolly and the 7000 accredited press respectful. We wait for the American news channel CNN to finish their broadcast before our turn with one fanatical family. Presenter Tim Vincent waits for his with Amelia and India.

The alarm bell rejoices at 05.45am. Like before any big day, it has been a fit-full nights sleep. Jessica and I have decided to dress smart and meet in the last carriage of the 06.30 Victoria line tube train at Highbury and Islington station, a plot scene worthy of An Affair to Remember. We are concerned about access and movement so have decided to get in early. Vacate the tube at Victoria and make our way through St. James’s Park to the south side of the route where we will work between Parliament Square and the Mall. Photographing yesterday was crucial. The tents have now been packed away and the rows are deep. I shoot and weave amongst the royal masks, maple leaf bunting, sleeping men, women dressed as brides, the alfresco plastic urinals and the occasional outburst of royal rage as late arrivals encroach on established viewing positions. We pause to talk to the impeccably suited Harry Arthur (8) and brother Rory (5) and the more dishevelled Berry Collins and Gloria Doherty, who slept under the stars and have ‘appropriated’ a tent for shelter. They complain that unlike at a wedding in their community, they haven’t even been offered sandwiches and a drink.

As Big Ben tocks towards wedding o’clock I decide the best place to photograph will be from Parliament Square. There’s a massive cheer, Dalia Yousif is hoisted onto the shoulders of Panos. I snap some frames of his thigh-clenched face and ask what Dalia can see. It’s the litter pickers on one final round. Another cheer and she grabs a frame of Prince Harry. It’s the first I’ve seen of the A-list wedding guests. As William took Kate up the aisle, I was probably only a straight 100-metres away. Cocooned in a living cordon I photograph what I can. 10-year old Callum Lewis uses a ‘Blighty’ periscope to scan for action. Ben Fowler and William Fox-Staeton picnic on the grass. Mr Higgins chuffs his pipe, 21-year old Rhyll de Teglia has a solitary moment and a woman picks up dog-poo. There’s a little Britain-village fete-Henman Hill kind of feel to the proceedings.

Over the two days I shoot 686 frames, FTP an edit of ‘as shot’ 82 to the Telegraph Magazine and head off for a day clay pigeon shooting in the Oxfordshire countryside. On return the TM has edited 13 images to be delivered as polished, ready-for-publication files. This is encouraging. My hopes are for six consecutive pages with a double-page opener. I text my friends and call my Mum. Finally, I think she will have something to be proud of produced by her son to frame and hang in the spare bedroom. I asses Martin Parr’s effort on the Magnum website and think perhaps, I may have edged it on the day.

Saturday 7th, the day the Telegraph Magazine Royal Wedding souvenir edition is published. It’s with leaden feet that I head out to buy a copy. Three days after the wedding I received a call delivering the “AWFUL” news. None of my photographs would be published; zero. nought, nowt, nada. I’ve been around long enough, just, not to take this personally and got proactive, called STERN to see if it was too late to send some their way. The subsequent elimination of Bin Laden had squeezed out wedding pages. I get six images on to the CORBIS website for syndication and upload 50 to ALAMY but it all feels a little bit late. 20 are posted on my website, I Tweet the link and put an album on Facebook. Responses are good: Martin O’Neill thinks them “Most amusing”, Sam Christopher Cornwell, “Great stuff.”

Wincing back a double vodka tonic I find Zed’s 6 images over two pages and Simon’s one image over two pages treading water in the Getty pool publication. Slightly embarrassed at my exclusion, I text my friends and call my Mum with the news. It seems even the staunchest cynics have been seduced by the occasion (except me). And the wedding is to be remembered and revered as a right royal fairytale (except by me). I now know, why I don’t officially shoot weddings. You wouldn’t want me at your wedding, and in all honesty, I probably wouldn’t want to come. I raise a glass to the hundreds of millions that watched TV coverage of the wedding and consider instead, the next royal funeral.

More Royal Wedding photos HERE

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Educating Peter

When we heard that three Middlesex University Students had won place in the National Portrait Gallery as part of the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize exhibition we wanted to know more. More than a decade ago photojournalist Peter Dench graduated with a first-class degree in photography but no idea how to make a living, so we sent him back to school to see how today's photography students are being prepared for the real world.

I am standing in the National Portrait Gallery looking at the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize exhibits. 60 images selected from 6000 submitted by 2400 photographers. Perhaps more startling than the tumescent My British Wife is three of the entries are from students. Students of Middlesex University (MU). Last year they had two exhibitors. In the awards previous incarnations I had success in 1999, 2001 and 2003. The last seven years a cold slap in the face. MU are clearly doing something right and I want to know what. I give BA Photography Programme Leader David Simmonds a call and enrol for a day. It’s time for this snapper to go back to school, Educating Peter, the sequel.

Like any student before their first day I’m nervous. Will I fit in? What shall I wear? Jump on the tube to leafy Cockfosters and ponder the day ahead, a day talking with students. I suppress my inner Paul Calf and scan the Metro for research; Gillian McKeith is not pregnant, Morrisey’s been a naughty boy. I pause at the gates. It’s been 15 years since I walked out of University and I momentarily doubt my ability to return.

David strides forward, Royal College of Art Graduate and respected photographer in his own right. Thankfully he’s not wearing an elbow padded jacket and cravat. He introduces 26 year-old BA student, Asef Ali Mohammad. Asef was given a brief to produce a series of photographs that use ‘America’ as a starting point to the creative process. While others in his year took off to the studio flinging cream pies at the statue of liberty, Asef took off to Kabul. MU didn’t discourage him and advised he text his daily progress. Foreign communications often being what they are, they weren’t always received. While concerned, staff trusted Asef’s ability to complete the assignment safely. His resulting Photo Essay ‘Stories From Kabul’ is a series of colour portraits featuring ordinary Afghan people, Caterers, TV executives, Beauticians, The Police. It premiered as a 4m 45s multi media piece on the prestigious FOTO8 website. Subsequently US Newsweek published the reportage across four pages paying around $1600. I decide not to mention selling, as a student, a portrait of Sir Richard FitzHerbert Baronet, Squire of Tissington for £25 to Derbyshire Life & Countryside.

Asef is exceptional and may be the exception. I navigate the 30+ Macs in the digital suite looking for his antithesis. The Macs only have Photoshop installed. Social networking addicts must vacate. Over the shoulder of one student I spy images of a stunning model. I introduce myself to Rokas Darulis. The model is his girlfriend, who is a model, ranked among the top 50 models in the world. Lithuanian-born Darulis, who wouldn’t look out of place on the catwalk, graduated from MU in 2009 with a first. In a year working as a pro, commissions from Magazines Pravda (in Lithuania), Monika and Tank are casually referred to. Elite Model Agency and Svyturys Beer tick the commercial client box. Accolades already on the shelf include the AOP Open Awards and Taylor Wessing. Aha! one of the years MU inclusions. I flick through the brochure and find the entry Ernest and Ernest from his project; It doesn’t matter who you sleep with, a series of portraits of people of the same sex in bed together. A subtlety lit portrait portraying two of Darulis friends. I note ‘same sex relationships’ as a possible ingredient in the Taylor Wessing victory sauce.

I reflect on the projects from my University 'class of 95’. Roger photographed himself naked. Debra photographed herself nearly naked painted white. Sharon portrayed herself smoking a cigarette. Sarah chose a child’s plastic farmyard cow to document. Jane simply snapped the BBC Soap Eastenders playing on the TV. To be fair, Sarah went on to graduate from the RCA; Aperture has published a Monograph of her photographs. Debra is co-proprietor of a gallery in Brooklyn, New York. Perhaps the MU liberty statue pie flingers will end up chairing a World Photography Organisation while a Photojournalist like Asef will graft for recognition in a world of grant refusals and shrinking budgets. It’s a common tale.

Back at MU, Squiz, already a brand, (, shows striking work in progress from a self-funded 10 day fashion shoot in Japan. Estimated cost, a dedicated £2500. Tottenham resident Inzajeano Latif, a 31-year old mature student and graduate from the MA at MU, is also in attendance. Latif has already impressed picture editors finest Cheryl Newman with commissions for the Telegraph Magazine. Among other achievements, an Ian Parry Award Show Finalist, work featured in the FOTO8 Summer Show and D&AD Awards. The 2009 Taylor Wessing poster was Latif’s inclusion, Female Boxer Number 3. I scribble down, female boxers in bed together?

After being ejected from the digital suite a tour of further facilities follow. A historic smell permeates one room. Stepping in, through the amber gloom, over 30 traditional black and white enlargers morph to attention. David explains the importance of teaching the craft. He deplores the quick fix digital prints produced by students as if an afterthought. He encourages them to treat the process with the same develop, stop and fix precision you would an Ansel Adams landscape. David is constantly slowing people down. The frantic ‘shoot 1000’s of frames something must be good sort it out in Photoshop later attitude’ must stop.

It is not unrealistic to compare my experiences of 15 years ago. The principals of education remain the same. Equip a student with the necessary skills for a career in their chosen industry after education. I sped through my University doors with a First Class (Hons) Degree in Photographic Studies and headed for London. I would join Reuters (I’d seen a photograph I liked credited in a newspaper) and travel the world. The folio was lost in the Reuters system. Two years on the dole followed. I had no realistic concept of how to approach the industry. On reflection, my impressions are the lecturers were self-serving. Their own personal projects a priority. It is important for a tutor to have a profile outside of education but not at their students expense. Their efforts are still as bemusing now as they were then, Portraits of fish, found objects outside photographed inside, views on top and under a table. It was with a sense of the inevitable that our final year degree show was called Introspection. Academically the work of Jo Spence, Cindy Sherman and Nan Golding prevailed. It took me years just to remove the lens cap without feeling a misogynist. My dissertation on Dr Diamond and his use of photography in the treatment of female lunatics has not been useful.

It is with these concerns that I head to lunch with David. Over wine and calamari David explains how the course reflects the industry. Deadlines are non-negotiable, lateness an immediate markdown. Students are introduced into the industry as much as possible and Industry to the students. There is a healthy visiting lecture programme from retouchers and photographers to magazine editors and gallery curators. The only visiting lecture I remember was a philosopher who posed the question, ‘does green exist’? For two hours. It does. I seriously questioned if I wanted to. Internships and competition submissions at MU are compulsory. Assisting is encouraged. Tim Walkers’ assistant of five years, Alison Tanner, is on hand to advise. Rather than a ‘Jack of all trades’ approach to portfolios the strategy is to produce one substantial coherent body of work that the creator is passionate about. There is an open door policy from staff to students. The course is young and has already made a significant mark. David is realistic enough to suggest only 15% of graduates may go on to make a living taking photographs. Other employment opportunities within the industry are covered. Being a Technician is not considered a failure.

Back on Campus, David is keen for me to meet Steven Barritt (35) another MU MA graduate. I’m not so keen to meet Steven. The Taylor Wessing brochure introduces it’s protagonist as a product of the 'I photograph myself naked’ approach. Steven’s portrait The Solitude of Pygmalion from the series Analogous Mythography is based on the Greek myth of a sculptor who fell in love with his sculpture. Steven said: “I made a lot of effort putting on lots of weight and letting myself go, even resorting to not washing for weeks.” Essentially, a dirty Steven sits naked on an unmade bed surrounded by booze and with walls covered in posters and magazine articles on Britney Spears. I warm to him immediately. Steven wants to make enough money from photography to get out of London. He prefers the influence of Truro on his photography. His Anachronisms portrait series for his MA show are beautifully considered, meticulously planned 5x4 film portraits. It took him around nine months to shoot the first frame. That’s academics for you. Eight years discipline as a former computer programmer has left an imprint. Steve’s umbilical connection with MU has him lined up to interview for a teaching position.

All of the students I spoke with expect to hit the ground running as working pro photographers. They all have a print folio and eschew the argument for iPads. Cited influences are the ones that have shaped previous generations of snappers - August Sander, Bruce Davison, James Nachtwey, Walker Evans, Cecil Beaton. They speak fondly of their tutors and hope to retain a relationship with the University. We talk through the afternoon amicably as equals. Industry names are exchanged with familiarity. I even note down a few new ones. Social networking is understood and embraced. I consider myself a bit of a player ( 500+ Facebook friends!) and suggest they keep in touch. I leave them my card. There is nothing in the inbox when I get home, or the next day. I search them out. Squizhamilton has 4956 Facebook friends. I request to be his 4957th. Rokas Darulis 2365, most of them I assume beautiful. Inzajeano Latif, 1333. Steven Barritt, well at least he’s clothed in his profile photo.

Curious to find a few students not drafted in for my benefit and craving female company I peel off unescorted to the studio. It’s industrious and populated. A jewellery student sparkles on her back. Photo student Holly, fragrant clipped and sartorially crisp is setting up for a shoot, a series of portraits on red heads. A young man poses awkwardly on a stool. I make a note to remember his face, a potential Taylor Wessing 2011. Reminded of my pursuit of domination I show students the portrait prize brochures from the previous decade, pen poised to jot down the winning formula. Discussions suggest not much has changed. There was a bit more black and white. The dominating digital 35mm format has conquered the square but the content is constant; the ginger, puberty, teenage girls, nakedness, muff and combinations of all represented. Back at my studio, well The Villers Terrace in Crouch End, I re-assess my own successful entries, verdict - guilty: naked old man; a ginger woman on a urinating horse; two awkward looking children. Seems I’ve been entering content along the right lines all along. I have an idea for the next submission, pick up the phone and dial. “Hello, is that Anne Robinson?”

A version of this feature first appeared in the February 2011 issue of Professional Photographer Magazine

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

The Year Of Living Dangerously

An independent gallery located at the top of a period building in Cardiff is showcasing some of the most exciting contemporary photography in the UK. On its first birthday Peter Dench catches up with the owners of the Third Floor Gallery to discover if it really is tough at the top.

Maciej Dacowicz is not comfortable. He presses a splayed hand hard into his face and rubs. It’s not the disco ball lights peppering his face that is causing distress. It’s the questions. Maciej doesn’t like questions and doesn’t like to answer them; in fact he doesn’t like to talk much at all. We are at the Third Floor Gallery in Cardiff that he launched with Joni Karanka (Bartosz Nowicki joined some months later). Today is the gallery’s first year anniversary party. I ask Maciej (pronounced mach-ic) what he enjoys about running the TFG, he rubs harder, “Ask Joni.” I’d arrived a few hours earlier. Approaching the gallery Joni and Maciej had parked up outside with a car boot full of beer. It had taken them three hours to choose it checking for the best deals. “Give us a hand Peter,” no one is beyond being asked to help and we take turns to deliver the crates up the 60 stairs past an Indian Dance Class and Taxi Rank to the top-floor premises.

On the 22nd December 2009 I received an email from Joni that said; ‘Dear Peter, I wander if you’d be interested in exhibiting LoveUK in Cardiff. Maciej Dakowicz and I are opening a small photography gallery in February, and we wanted something with a bit of a nice bang to open up. Any reply is good for me, ranging from interest to rejection with alternative suggestions J.’ Feeling festive I answered in the affirmative. A call from the considered and unassuming Joni followed and the details required softly spoken through a Finnish, Spanish hybrid accent. The gallery and exhibition opened on the 12th February 2010 to a warm welcome from the Cardiff media and community. Located in the Bay area of Cardiff a short bus ride from the centre, TFG sits comfortably opposite the Millennium Centre and developing Mermaid Quay. A sandwich board at the door of the period building, padlocked to the railings quietly introduces the venue.

One year on I am back visiting the gallery to find out how the first year has progressed for the team and what is involved in running a successful exhibition space. A theme quickly dominates, moneymoneymoneymoneymoneymoney. No one has any and how to get it is a constant time consumer. Joni heads down to Iceland to get some nibbles for the evening bash. The budget is £7-8 but he splurges. 75 piece Tex Max Platter, £4. 36; Chocolate Strawberries, £2; 14 Filo Wrapped Prawns, £2; Blackforest Gateau, £3. I throw in some crisps and buy a couple of pasties to keep us going. TFG has achieved charitable status but the benefits are yet to be realised. Around £700 a month comes from donations, any shortfall is made up from the pockets of each proprietor. There is an Amazon well wishers list that to date has provided an A4 Multifunction Mono Laser Printer, TV, professional trimmer, pair of scissors, tape dispenser, screwdriver set and some white tack (the sandwich board was a wish list gift). In the initial business plan, it was hoped the rent would largely be funded by print sales from each exhibition. Collective sales so far fall short of double figures, this is surprising, since the LoveUK launch the list of exhibitors have been impressive including David Solomons, Jocelyn Bain Hogg, Carolyn Drake, and Magnum royalty David Hurn and Chris Steele-Perkins.

To exhibit, the photographer is approached and direct submissions discouraged. The three gallerists chat informally, usually in the £2-a-pint Captain Scott pub nearby about what work they want to see and what photographers they would like to work with. Volunteers lubricate the gallery, a central pool of around a dozen help with the day-to-day running. This allows Joni, Maciej and Bartosz to concentrate on off-site matters. The volunteers call ponytailed Joni ‘The Thinker’ for his Zen like presence and Maciej ‘The Director,’ because of his matter of fact way of explaining how and when things should be done. There is no nickname for the open faced Bartosz, ‘The Smiler’ wouldn’t be inappropriate. Each team member has no specific role. Tasks are taken as and when by who has the time or most suitable allegiance. Joni and Bartosz are perhaps better with the PR and communication side of it. Maciej with the details, or as he would describe it, “Dealing with the shit.”

Thirty-five people visited the exhibition on the first anniversary day, taking the estimated annual number to over 4000. 50+ guests are jostling for position in the 60ft Sq gallery space tonight. It’s an open-door policy, invites were sent via social networks and word of mouth. The crowd is eclectic with Poland heavily represented courtesy of Maciej and Bartosz. The mood is friendly and familiar. Also well represented is the University of Wales, Newport. Students from the prestigious Documentary Photography – BA (HONS) course gobble beer and peer at the pinned Laura Pannack prints. The University is very important to TFG. It’s proximity, as well as providing a ready and willing rotation of visitors print some of the exhibitions in return for having their name on the fliers and in the gallery space. Photographers often consult the course leader at Newport, Ken Grant, for his opinion before deciding to exhibit at the gallery.

Joni, Bartosz and Maciej are all keen and productive photographers as well as appreciators of photography. However, Joni is on hiatus from taking his own photographs, too busy with his paid day job and the gallery. Bartosz, a recent graduate from Newport is quickly finding his voice. Maciej has already pinched the industries consciousness with his pictures and has his 5000 or so Flickr followers anticipating each update. Cardiff After Dark, his burgeoning project on the city’s nightlife is where he thrives. Five images over four pages from the project were included in the Street Photography Now book and the work helped him to achieve an honourable mention in the reportage competition for National Geographic Polska magazine for Polish National Geographic. His work has appeared in many national and international publications, The Guardian, Independent, American Photo and Der Spiegel among them.

I have walked with Maciej along St Mary Street where the bulk of his project is shot. The spectacle of the street has held his attention since the Pole moved to Wales from Hong Kong in 2004. I’ve seen my fair share of Britain’s bad behaviour and St Mary Street is top ten. A nightly production penned by the devil himself, choreographed girls shiver, totter and titter through the litter warmed only by the click flick of cigarette lighters - the Police and the bloodied never far away. On this occasion Maciej was fidgety in his skin. He admits to a lull in creative libido, researching too many pictures on the Internet to be interested in taking them. I’m sure it will pass. He usually shoots in tandem with another snapper for safety, each watching the others back, the imbibing stars of Cardiff After Dark haven’t relished the attention (although the council did deliver a yellow skip to the street to help with the mess after seeing some of the work). Certain bars are out of bounds, the security recognises him, his name is down and he’s not coming in. I left Maciej at 3am; he stuck around for a while, just in case.

In The Claude Hotel over lunch the following day I asked him how his night went. Clicking through the results I spot some keepers. What Maciej enjoys about photographing he won’t say. What inspires him to take photographs he doesn’t quite know. What’s the best thing about running a gallery? It’s difficult to explain. Is he happy with his situation? Stopping on a frame of a couple kissing in the rain under a black leather jacket, I would suggest that for 1/200th of a second each night spent on the street in Cardiff - he is.

At a recently attended private view in the West End of London, the glass-fronted and lighthouse bright interior felt intimidating, the thousand pound prints inhibiting and the bar staff prickly on repeat returns to refill. There wasn’t a Tex Mex Platter in sight. Bounding up to the Third floor Gallery you know you’ll be welcome, to have a drink and a chat or just to look through the donated books. There’s an adjoining artist studio where Ian Smith is currently resident that gives the place a feel of a work in progress and one you are encouraged to take part in. Exhibitions come and go every four to six weeks. TFG is your friend, an arm around the shoulder, a social club for the creative and surprisingly forgiving. At the party I see an ejected fist from the opening show event that one-year ago put a hole in the wall so big it could have been appropriated for use on TV by Anton Du Beke, “Bring on the wall!” As the anniversary hour approaches, shots are distributed and speeches delivered. A comment in the visitors' book catches the eye, "With all the technologicel (sic) advances, people don't change that much. Loved the show. Came with my daughter Amy who is studying photography in college, and is a big fan. Also, good to know you're not only alive but vital." I sniff the 50% proof Finnish vodka and down a toast to the Third Floor Gallery being alive and vital in another year.

A version of this feature first appeared in the April 2011 issue of Professional Photographer Magazine

Thursday, 13 January 2011

iMac 27 Inch Review

A version of this review was first published in Professional Photographer Magazine

As a trained Photojournalist I try not to judge or be judged. I have a sensible haircut, no tattoos, no Bling and avoid branded clothes. I admit to no allegiances, except one. I am a Mac Man. In 2002 I was sent on assignment to San Francisco by The Face Magazine to document a Mac convention. Computer geeks! I thought and was prepared to be unimpressed. Witnessing Steve Jobs casually attired in black long-sleeved top, washed out Levis and rimless glasses unveil the iMac G4/800 to a crowd of whooping disciples tweaked my interest. I trotted off to shoot a portrait of fellow Englishman Jonathan “Jonny” Ive, Apple’s then traditionally media-shy Vice President and chief designer. He was the personification of cool and gently imparted the merits of Mac with remarkable lucidity. By the end of our session, I’d been truly bitten by the Apple.

8 years later and I’m eagerly awaiting the delivery of a 27-inch iMac to my home. With a minority share of the market, Apple doesn’t want their computers to be seen as a luxury item. This is difficult to implement. I un-box the contents with the same jittery fingers that unzipped my wife’s wedding dress. I lay the contents out for inspection. There are 3; screen, keyboard box (also containing the mouse), plug. The thrill is comparable with being seated on a First Class flight anticipating the delights ahead. From delivery to start-up takes less than 10 minutes and I’ve taken my time. The Galaxy screen saver dissolves into view with pinprick clarity. I flinch for my shades. In haste I check the electricity meter. It’s clicking round at the usual daytime rate. I sit down, breathe in and click the 7th icon of the 22-icon tool bar. Aperture 3 bounces into operation.

The previous afternoon I attended an Aperture course at UK Apple HQ. Sitting in the waiting room I pondered if my review would be one of the Maccolades being flashed up on the wall. The Aperture Product Manager shadowed by an impossibly crisp Apple PR skipped with zest and fluidity through the MacAp combination. There was a tonne of information. I had difficulty absorbing the lunchtime drinks menu in the Slug & Lettuce but remained focused. I’m new to Aperture and am reliably informed it has 200+ new features including Places, a feature that allows you to explore your library based on where your photos were taken using an extensive Geotagging system. Reverse geocoding translates GPS coordinates into proper place names. Photos with GPS are automatically plotted on the interactive map. If your camera doesn’t have GPS it can be extracted from an external device including an i-Phone. Men like maps, Photographers like to travel. It’s the perfect addiction and one you can feed by constantly pinning where you’ve been and gloat to any ear that will listen. Places provide useful information when key-wording images for stock and searching the archive for a destination specific request from picture editors.

Clicking on Faces a corkboard flicks on screen with 3 Polaroid’s tacked to it that remarkably manages to placate every gender and ethnicity. I haven’t seen so much corkboard since my bathroom of 76’ and am comforted by the memory. Faces make it easy to locate people in your library using automatic face detection and recognition. Each face you confirm helps Aperture find even more photos of that person, in effect, becoming smarter and smarter the more you use it. Alternatively you can choose not to tag that tiresome Uncle or irritable Aunt. A welcome tool but one I’ll leave for the family album hobbyists.

Back home with a crammed head I decide on a streamlined process of evaluation. To set myself a project and test the MacAp combination to see if it really is . . . ‘THE ULTIMATE DIGITAL DARKROOM’ - from the point of assessing workflow, speed of use and output etc. Before I get to work my daughter interrupts “Oh my word Daddy, can I play Club Penguin?” She does and takes to the interactive world of Antarctica with aplomb. The volume is adjusted to 1 notch above half way providing the crystal clear surround sound of Penguins at play. I interpret her ‘coos’ as admiring the 16:9 aspect ratio of the environmentally friendly backlit 27-inch LED display and ‘aaahhhs’ as appreciation for the 1000:1 typical contrast ratio delivering sublime detail from every angle.

She’s off to bed and I’m back to work. Surveying the wireless desktop is satisfying. The keyboard, so often a fixture parked directly in front of the screen is pleasingly mobile, light and low profile. Not a consonant is dropped as I tap away from the sofa on the other side of the room. It’s apparently effective from 33ft away but I live in a London flat and would have to involve my neighbour to confirm. The Mac mouse feels a little clunky. The design is as you might imagine the prototype of a panty liner to be. It has the tactility of a shoe- horn I made for Mother’s Day at Secondary School in Design & Communication plastics but it does the job and the weight is spot on. As my time with the magic mouse runs up the clock it becomes a welcome accomplice.

Aperture 3 supports RAW formats from more than 150 digital cameras and backs. Disappointingly the previews are Pixelated. Even on the largest preview setting it’s difficult to assess which RAW file to edit for import. I might be playing the fool but can’t find a solution. Each file has to be double clicked to check clarity of content. The checked files are imported flawlessly and fast. Working on the files Aperture 3 begins to excel. You can flick seamlessly between images and the adjustment inspector. Enlarging RAW files up to 1000% gets you right into the lap of the image. Sharpen, saturate, curves, retouch, colour balance, brushes, job done. An image that usually takes me 10 minutes to tweak is halved. In addition to ready-to-use adjustment presets you can apply your own adjustments and save them as custom Adjustment Presets to shave off even more time. A nifty little feature worth a mention is the ‘Focus Points’ overlay which highlights the active point when the shutter was released.

The new non-destructive brushes are a revelation. 14 highly responsive quick choices can paint in an adjustment with a few clicks working on the tiniest area to the complete image with ease doing away with the need to master difficult filter and layer settings. You don’t even need to click OK to apply the adjustment, just adjust and move, adjust and move. I manage to eat my kebab with one hand while dodging, sharpening and saturating with the other. After a while enhancements become precise, intuitive and fast helped by the one click built in edge detection.

There’s a 17 choice list for exporting a version of the worked on file. Be sure to check Aperture > Presets > Export and set the dpi or it will be processed at the default 72dpi, one rooky mistake and an afternoon of work gone. The editorial client I was submitting to would not have been pleased. I turn off the radio and barely detect noise as the 64-bit processing on Intel Core 2 duo-based system running Mac OS X Snow Leopard goes to work processing the files.

Images mean nothing unless people see them. A photographer without an audience doesn’t exist. Fortunately Ap3 has enough quick ways to share your images and satisfy even the most combustible of egos. The omnipotent Facebook & Flickr are a constant corner of the eye screen presence waiting to be sated. For the more patient there’s the bookstore with a myriad of combinations to explore. I also had great fun with the multimedia presentation system where you can combine music, voiceover and location audio controlling the pace of your slideshow with the tap of a finger.

With the 27-inch iMac size does matter and what you do with it. Every inch is there to be taken advantage of and Aperture recognises this and gives your image every opportunity to access all four corners with minimum fuss. The combination has worked. This Pro is pleased. At the moment I’m in the moment and reluctant to return to my usual operating system. Is it he Ultimate Digital Darkroom combination? It’s pretty close. Time will make that judgement.

Talking of which, nearly time for the return of the Mac. The hand ticks round. The inevitable knock at the door draws near. Like the perfect escort, Mistress Mac’s performance has been impeccable. Working hard when required, discreet when the circumstance demanded, paying attention to detail and always looking immaculate. I caress the edges, run my finger over the DVD and SD orifice, finger the 4 USB hubs & 1 Firewire 800 connection, take one last look into the seductive vibrancy of that sumptuous interface, send any incriminating evidence of our dalliance to the trash and click shut down. It’s time to put the Mac in the box.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Bright Eyes - Street Photography

This interview was first published in the September 2010 Photography Monthly Magazine

Peter Dench likes to have fun, but doesn’t like to waste time. He enjoys getting out and shooting, but dislikes simply wandering around without purpose. He prefers instead to photograph events and places that, by their very nature, will guarantee colourful and arresting images. He’s not an obsessive photographer who always has a camera slung around his neck. In fact, he won’t get his camera out of its bag for weeks unless he’s being paid and before setting out he has to have a strong sense of what he’s trying to achieve.

Take for example the image of a boy diving into a swimming pool. This was taken in a small US town on the weekend of American Independence Day. Peter knew in advance there would be celebrations and situations that he could visit that would have the potential for some great shots.

“I have a very naive way of shooting and chase primary colours. I’ll run after a girl in red shoes or shiny pants or holding a yellow umbrella. It’s a simple, childish and boyish enthusiasm I have for shiny things. Never let me walk past a La Senza shop.”

Peter grew up by the seaside in Weymouth, Dorset, just two minutes from the beach, a setting he feels has had a big influence on his style today. Having studied photography as a teenager, he decided to become a professional photographer because he was fired from every other job, which at the age of 16 ranged from till boy in Asda to sales assistant in Top Man. He knew early on that he wasn’t particularly good at being told what to do by an authority figure.

­­It is perhaps this anarchic attitude that informs his work. His approach maybe targeted but his aim is to capture the funny side of life. “I’m always looking for humour in my pictures. Charlie Chaplin is a big influence and I often try to address serious subjects in a humorous way when appropriate. My aim is to make people laugh, make people think. Looking through the books of Elliott Erwitt and Martin Parr is the reason I got into photography. If you can travel the world making people laugh and making them think, then to me that’s a fine way to live.”

Peter was 14 when he started taking pictures, shooting things such as butterflies and plants. Eventually he turned the camera towards people and began to take it seriously as a career at the age of 18 after looking at photography books in the library of Bournemouth arts college.

“I knew in 1992 that I wanted to be a professional photographer, when I enrolled in a degree course in photographic studies at Derby. By the end of the degree Jonathan Worth and I were the only two photographers who didn’t photograph our friends or ourselves naked. It was that type of course where Cindy Sherman and Jo Spence were held up as the inspiration. It was very academic, which helped me enormously because all I wanted to do was get out and shoot people and see the world in photographs.”

This direction helped him to pick his subject. He had become class conscious for the first time at the age of 18 when he arrived in Bournemouth and realised that there were people in the world with double-barrelled names.

“I found this time fascinating and during the three years I spent in Derby I tried to visit as many public schools and country houses as I could. I got invited to the Duke of Devonshire’s tercentenary celebrations [at Chatsworth] because I told him I was doing my dissertation on historical representations of the aristocracy, but I just wanted a free lunch, some good quality wine and a great subject to photograph.”

In 1995, the week after he graduated, Peter headed to London and went straight to Reuters. His plan was to make it big. Armed with three portfolios he walked through the doors of the news agency expecting to get signed up immediately. The portfolio he left was immediately lost in the system; he was forced to sign on and spent the next two years on the dole.

“I soon realised the portfolio I had wasn’t up to scratch, so I started applying for press passes to events such as Ascot and Epsom, and turning up at Henley [for the rowing] – classic summer events – and I got picture editors involved quite early with what I was trying to do. I’d go and see Aidan Sullivan at the Sunday Times Magazine and he would reject everything I was showing him, but I’d take his advice on board and go back three months later to show him that I’d listened and my developments, which he’d also reject.”

This cycle continued until 1998 when Peter had finally progressed to a level where Sullivan was able to give him a commission. Shortly afterwards he was also asked to work for GQ magazine.

“I think there are two ways to become a professional photographer. Either you assist and then try to make it on your own or you try to make it on your own from the beginning, and that was the route I chose to take, but there’s no right or wrong way. It was two years of persistence and knocking on doors, which I still have to do.”

Shortly after getting this break, Peter joined the IPG agency for which Tom Stoddart was shooting stories on AIDS in Africa and Zed Nelson was photographing gun culture in America. Peter was encouraged to pick a subject as well and with the project drink UK he did exactly that.“There’s an underlying theme in my life. Drink is my passion. I grew up in a brewery and my family were all involved in the industry. My home town was a violent place to grow up in; there was a Navy base and 180 bars with holiday makers. It was a mess, but an enjoyable one too, so that’s the culture I wanted to document.”

Peter’s long-term aim is to document England and to understand the country. He does this by breaking it down into manageable chunks with a specific theme or title, a method which also mean he can raise money for his projects.

His drink UK project earned him a World Press Award and 11 pages in the Sunday Times Magazine, which really fired his enthusiasm. The next section he concentrated on was ethnicity in the UK, followed by rain UK and then love UK. Peter treats each subject in the same way and believes you have to be classless. He doesn’t have any tattoos, doesn’t wear any religious symbols and doesn’t even want people to know which football team he supports when on a job.

“I just try to be a blank canvas because it’s not about you when you’re shooting. I try to be as unremarkable as possible. When shooting I wear no logos, there are no allegiances anywhere, so the subject can project on to you what they want to be. The best asset I have is this unassuming presence where people aren’t afraid of me, I behave accordingly and they don’t judge. Generally people get on with me and let me shoot what I think I need to.”

That said, he makes no attempt to conceal the fact he is a photographer. Before switching to digital, Peter shot exclusively on Mamiya medium format cameras for almost 10 years. Shooting wide and as close as possible with such a cumbersome camera meant the last thing he could be was discreet.

“If I walked into a pub I’d either have people saying ‘don’t point that f***ing thing at me’ or ‘come and join us.’ I make no disguise about being a photographer. The thrill I get is shooting real people doing real things in a certain style that is very simple. There’s a drive to see things such as girls changing backstage. Who wouldn’t want to see that and who wouldn’t want to be there with a 6x7 camera? It’s the access to the ordinary, but for me they are extraordinary situations.”

His realistic approach is also the reason he is in demand with advertising clients. They like the fact that his work looks so natural. Even when it is all set up and every element and detail has been approved, Peter will try to make it look like a grabbed, humorous moment, because that’s what clients want him to recreate. They are looking for him to produce something that will make people smile.

In 2007 Peter was approached by FIFA – football’s governing body – to shoot a 15-month project, 26 stories across 20 countries. The choice was between two photographers. Both were asked if they shot digital. The other photographer said no, Peter said yes and got the job.

“I immediately ran home, bought one, called the photojournalist Marcus Bleasdale and he took me through the digital menu on the back, and it’s stuck. I still look at websites for 5x4 handheld cameras and I’ve still got film under my bed; in terms of commercial work film is a non-starter, but for personal projects I still shoot a few rolls.”

Today, Peter shoots on a couple of Canon EOS 5Ds but, as many professional photographers maintain, he believes that kit is not the key to success. “For me it was just what I was comfortable with and knew how to shoot, and then sticking with it, but in making the transition from film to digital I had to make sure I could continue with the style that I had developed.”

Hopeless at shooting in low light, Peter always feared that when it came to developing his shots he would see nothing, so he would blast them with flash or shoot only in bright sunlight so something would burn on to the negative.

Today he still uses fill-in flash, two stops under, with a Metz 45 flash gun clamped to the side of his camera. He works with two cameras, one with a 35mm lens and the other with a 28mm lens, but also carries a 70-200mm lens in case he needs to get a bit closer and is unable physically to do so. Peter always shoots on ISO 400 so he can move from outside to indoors and deal with lower light. He carries a light meter and takes a general reading, continually checking to see if there is any change. Usually he shoots at either f/11 or f/16 and dials the shutter speed to match.

“I can always recognise a good image of mine from just a thumbnail; I don’t have to enlarge it, because it’s so bold. Tom Stoddart once said to me that if you photograph a girl in a yellow dress you just see the dress, but if you photograph her in black and white you see her soul. I don’t buy into that, I just see a picture without colour and it depresses and disappoints me. I don’t think enough photographers consider the colours that go into their shots any more. It’s a real consideration of mine.”

Good street photography is about interesting lines, shapes and angles, and Peter is obsessed with clean lines, clean spaces and verticals.

“I live my life in a ridiculous way, any photographer does. You’re trying to make sense of the world through a rectangle. Composition for me is about roving your eye around the whole image and it just works, so first you look at the rectangle and then there are elements within it. I like regimented shots; perhaps it’s a rule I should break, but wonky lines upset me.” Take the shot of the elderly couple kissing in the bus shelter. The most important bit of that shot for Peter is that the ‘lost children centre’ display to the left runs parallel to the edge of the frame. Things have to work like that.

“With 6x7 and 6x6 you are more aware of what is happening at the top, bottom, left and right, but less so shooting in 6x9, where you read the image from left to right, so maybe the top and bottom aren’t so crucial. When you’re shooting 6x7 or 6x6 I think you have to be more disciplined. In 6x9 things can happen towards the edge of the frame and you can get away with a lot more, but when it’s penned in more every corner counts. That sounds like a game show for photographers, ‘every corner counts’. All my books at home are in alphabetical order and everything is square and I think this translates to the way I try to compose shots. Top, bottom, left, right, parallels, everything has to work where possible.”

Peter’s next project is a sort of road trip across UK, called Carry on England, which will look at the clichés that may or may not exist. It sounds fun and he is clearly excited by the idea, and why shouldn’t he be? Photography is about enjoying your subject, seeing the world differently and capturing the not-so-obvious. He may not take his camera out of its bag that often, but when he does it is plain to see Peter is excited by the simple things, events and situations that have a universal appeal. This is the key ingredient to any successful story and the draw for people from all walks of life.

By being selective, Peter has succeeded in creating strong images that have elements familiar to everyone. By being unobtrusive he is welcomed into disparate worlds and invited to record those elements in an engaging, humorous and sympathetic way. What more could a street photographer want?


Based in London, Peter Dench works primarily for advertising and editorial clients. In 2010 he came second in the advertising category at the Sony World Photography Awards. His studies of international cultures have been exhibited the world over. Football’s Hidden Story, his project for FIFA documenting 26 stories across 20 countries, received six global accolades, including World in Focus, AOP Open and PDN Photo awards.


Tom Stoddart

Elliott Erwitt

Martin Parr

Cindy Sherman

Jo Spence

Marcus Bleasdale