Twelve members plus Susi Luard, the committee member who organised the walk, met at Shoreditch High Street station. The first location of the walk was the Nomadic Community Gardens in Shoreditch which proved so popular we spent the most part of the evening there. There was no shortage of willing models amongst the people who were 'chilling' there, enjoying the perfect evening weather and light ( especially for photographers). We also shot the outdoor theatre with a huge street art backdrop of a wall, an abundance of street art, allotment type of gardens, sculpture made of used tires, a bridge that had been used for movie/TV series locations. The group was pleased to meet and talk to each other during the walk. People we met along the way expressed interest in us and guessed that we must be a local photography group. One or two have even expressed interest in coming to our meetings. We shot architecture and people during the rest of the walk towards Old Street to close the evening at a pub which is local to our usual meeting venue. Members who participated in this friendly & enjoyable outing will be sharing their favourite images at our next meeting -Tuesday, 15 August 2017.
By invitation, a dozen or so members crowded into the Leica City Store at the Royal Exchange, yesterday, to meet Ludivine, Jo and Robin, the friendly Leica staff, who plied us with wine and nibbles and then let us loose in the surroundings streets with expensive, large format cameras.
Upstairs, there was an interesting exhibition of Cuban images by Fulvio Bulgani, whilst downstairs there was an impressive array of cameras, representing the whole Leica range, from compacts, range finders to full-frame DSLRs, plus all their accessories. Ludivine described the history of the company and their current position and introduced Robin, a tutor with the Akademie - Leica’s training and education operation. It was a very hospitable evening and all members of CoL&CPS should feel welcome to go into the store for advice, and information and to see their exhibitions.
Robin had lined up enough cameras for us to work in twos and we were encouraged to go out and about for an hour, experimenting with the cameras. He set us a brief - to take portraits of each other, with the added incentive of entering a few of the images into a competition. The prize is a place on one of their portrait workshops - this was quite unexpected and I think we all worked harder at using the unfamiliar cameras in the time we had. We will post a few of the images below as they come in and in due course, announce who was the winner.
Some of us have been enjoying the Spitalfields Life daily blog for some years, marvelling at the range and interest the Gentle Author covers, with the help of his participating photographers. We invited Sarah Ainslie, one of those participating photographers, to tell us more - not just about how this works in practice, but about her own career in photography and her personal projects.
Sarah’s day job is as a theatrical photographer and she works with several theatres, mostly taking images in rehearsals. She brought with her a beautifully produced book illustrating the way the alternative theatre company, Complicite, works. (www.complicite.org)
As with so many of our guest speakers, Sarah came to this strand of photography by chance but obviously loves it and is influenced by it in the way she approaches her personal projects and some of her assignments with TGA. Many of these seem like theatrical scenarios in themselves: the dark caverns under the arches where cars and taxis are mended and sprayed, the middle-of the night drama of the Smithfield meat market, the warm, fuggy atmosphere of laundries and laundrettes, barbers’ shops and dry-cleaners. Maintaining a low profile and just ‘hanging around’, Sarah gets relaxed and candid portraits of the men and women servicing these essential parts of London life.
After following a degree course in Derby, Sarah immersed herself in the whole process of shooting on film, developing and printing her work, with her own darkroom and an interest in experimentation with liquid light and printing on different surfaces. In her first exhibition, she was able to combine her creativity with her technical expertise, bottling the debris she found on the streets and photographing the results, for instance. One of her early series, resulting in a book, was exploring the on and off-stage life of striptease and burlesque dancers. Another creative personal project was to show the history of the Spitalfield area being excavated, using double exposure of skulls and skeletons against the existing background, in compelling black and white images.
By comparison, her series shot on location with the Gentle Author are generally more straightforward environmental portraits and images, often concerned with trades and services which are disappearing or being modernised, digitalised and otherwise faded out. She showed images of pie and mash shops, car washes, weight lifting clubs, a tranny night and a glimpse of the middle-of the night rehearsal for the Lord Mayor’s Show. But sometimes they look at new trends, like the proliferation of pet dog owners in parks in east London. She now uses a digital camera, never with flash or additional lighting, and only manoeuvring her subjects towards any available light.This aspect of her work prompted questions from the floor about nostalgia and whether she considers herself to be a documentary photographer. This led to a lively discussion referencing other local photographers whose work is focussed on recording disappearing aspects of life in London, particularly east London, and the comparison with Hogarth was made, before we drew the evening to a close and repaired to the non-disappearing tavern up the road.
Per the title, this evening was planned as a workshop session, with the intention that three members would run simultaneous workshops around the room focusing on some of the skills we may want to develop in order to get the best out of competitions.
However with our Chair and our Programmes person both away at the Arles photography festival, leaving the Webmaster (myself) in charge resulted in a somewhat buggy user experience.
In the event unusually low attendance meant it was possible for all of us to take part in the one workshop that actually ran. Bill Gilliam taught us how to cut our own window mounts, then mount and back our prints ready for their thirty seconds of glory on the easel at a competition evening. The session increased my own confidence in this area, as well as providing the ever-valuable reminder to "measure twice, cut once" when it was spotted just in time that Bill's supposed 40x50cm board was in fact an old-school 16x20in one. We can hope that a few more members will venture into the print section of our next internal competition, "A Sense of Place", on 19th September.
After the refreshment break, longstanding member Alan Ainsworth came to the rescue by expounding his Ten Rules of Photography. Alan describes himself as a "natural contrarian", and his rules stimulated some lively discussion amongst the participants. It was also good to see a selection of his images as evidence of how he puts his rules into practice.
Thank you Alan and Bill.