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Inspiration

Here are some videos showing the work of a few photographers I've been interested in recently.   I've bought a book by each of these guys which are amazing and a continual source of inspiration.

The first photographer, Alex Webb is a street photographer with a great asthetic.   He gets in so close and manages to create amazing compositions in a split second.   I'm also interested in his use of mirrors in a lot of his pictures.   He uses reflections to create more complex and interesting shots, creating compositions within compositions.   He also uses posts and pillars in the street to divide his photos again and again.   His shots are often underexposed, creating mood and atmosphere, with muted colours.   Creating harmony out of complexity is a real skill.


Website    Book

William Albert Allard is a master of colour.   I love the colour range in his pictures and the quiet feel of many of his shots.   He imbues a level of quiet calm in his photos and manages to convey mood and emotion through many of his shots.   His book is also a fascinating read, covering his life and many adventures in photography.   Reading his thoughts again show a quiet mind and shows where the quiet in his shots come from.

Website    Book

David Alan Harveys work is amazing!   His shots are rich, vibrant and have so much mood.   He creates exceptional and interesting compositions which often break the rules of composition but are composed better than most photographs you see.   He seems to capture the soul of a place and shows the richness of life and the makes you want to catch the next flight out to an exotic location.

Website    Book

These 3 photographers are fantastic examples of what photography can be.   Deep, interesting, rich and with an individual perspective on the world, that comes through in the composition and the colour.

NY - Photos

The never ending man-made skyline, thousands of buildings, signifying millions of lives.

Long streets that disappear to a point in perspective, passing through diverse neighbourhoods, both rich and poor.

Energy that seems to come from beneath your feet, like the smoke from the manholes, creating a charged atmosphere on every street corner.

People moving in every direction below buildings from the movies.

This city is a monument to America, to capitalism and the American dream. A physical realisation of the ideas of a young country in the process of designing its own history and mythology.

Why do people come to New York? Is it to be part of something bigger than themselves? Is it to become famous or to have the chance to become a big player in this massive city? There is the chance to make it to the top or go crazy trying. This city is clearly more important than any individual in it. The draw or appeal is to be a part of the buzz of this colossal place. It feels like the hub of the Western world and may very well be just that.

As far as the eye can see are structures, harking back to the photos of the high-rise construction workers balanced on beams above the city, eating their lunch. How many lives of men have gone into building this place? The skyline goes on into the distance in almost every way you look, emphasising the almost impossible feat.

There are massive gaps between the rich and poor but this seems to be an accepted part of life here and part of what makes America what it is. The chances and the opportunities are presented to be there for anyone to grasp. It asks everyone, 'Do you want to make it big?' and gives enough chance that many take the gamble. The poor never want to complain about this situation because they believe they can become a one of the rich and reap the rewards.

Walking the streets is energising. They go on forever in their grid structure but gradually, imperceptibly change and shift to take the form of new places. Diversity, a rich patchwork of cultures merged into one.

The surprises keep you moving in, forcing you to ask, ''What is next? What will I see around the corner? What will be there?'

A small selection of photos from the book NY here

NY - My New York Photobook

New York.   NY.   

I’ve finally finished my New York book, NY.  

At the end of July, I went over to America for a two week break with my family and girlfriend, and as always I took my camera. We headed to New York and Washington but once I arrived I realised that I would have to focus the book on New York due to the sheer amount of moments I managed to capture there.

My idea?   To capture the feel of the city in photos.   To give the flavour of walking through the place and trying to capture some of the atmosphere of being there.   To try to give my own perspective on the city.   To tell a story of a place.

Did I succeed?   Judge for yourself and have a look through the book (better to hit the full screen button at the bottom right of the viewer):

 

If you want to have a closer look at a real one and see the rest of the book, you can buy it here or give me a shout and we can meet up to show you a copy.

This has been the toughest photography project to date, but I feel that it was worth it.   Making books makes total sense to me at the moment.   I’m currently more interested in a group of photos that tell me more about something than individual ones and a book is the best way to put them together.   

Keep a lookout for more blogposts showing selected photos from the book.

New York is an amazing place, I just wish I had more time.

NY - Subway

Here's a moment of my trip about the New York subway.   It was originally going to be part of my book, NY, but I decided to cut it since it didn't really fit the book format.
The book is finished and I've sent for a proof print to make sure its ok, then I'll post more details, photos, etc.

On to the story....

We decide to take the subway and plunge down into the overwhelming, suffocating heat of the underground. We slow down in the flow of people as we try to figure out what to do. As always, in this situation everyone else know exactly where they are going and they stream through the space and away through the turnstiles and into the darkness beyond. The place is made of metal, like a massive machine and the noise is incredible.

The ticket machines are unintelligible so we proceed with caution towards an angry looking man in a tiny metal booth, surrounded by metal bars. Are the bars there to keep us out or him in, I wonder.

'What do you want?' he shouts through the crackly intercom. I ask for tickets then fumble with the money, trying to figure out the dollars and cents. An increasingly irate face peers back through the grating, but finally we get the tickets and we are away. I imagine the man shaking his head behind us.

Going down further into the bowels of the earth, the heat gets more and more overpowering.

On to the train and heading South, underneath the towering skyscrapers somewhere above our heads.  A nervous German family sit further up the train as the brakes screech and the lights flicker.   

Stop after stop we pass, then suddenly the train is above the streets.  Looking out, rain pours down graffiti covered walls on rough looking tenement housing blocks, as the bridge girders fly by and break the view.

We can hear music in the distance over the clatter of the carriage and the screech of the wheels on the track.   A carefree musician, passes through the train playing latin american music on his small guitar.   The subway is his stage.   
The German family stare at the floor and pretend he doesn’t exist, but he doesn’t seem to mind. I take a photo and give him some change.

An almost unintelligible announcement comes from a tannoy muttering something about Brooklyn.   The Germans go into a panic as our destination is changed.   They are lined up at the door of the train waiting to exit as the train goes on and on.   A New Yorker sitting infront of me shakes his head as we pass over the bridge into Brooklyn.   

As the train pulls up to the station, I lean forward and ask the man where we should go.   He offers to take us to the correct station to lower Manhattan as the Germans dart off the train and into the crowd, never to be seen again....


A Million Shillings - Alixandra Fazzina


(Courtesy of Trolley Books)

Recently I went to a book signing in London's The Photographers Gallery, for the book A Million Shillings - Escape from Somalia by Alixandra Fazzina.   

This is an indepth account, both written and in photographic form, of the plight of Somali's fleeing the bloodshed in their country for a better life abroad.   It is also pretty much an undocumented story since it is too dangerous for any Western organisation to exist within Somalia's borders.   Alixandra Fazzina has produced an amazing book and body of work, under the hardest of conditions, documenting some of the desparate and brutal lives of these forgotten people.

Click here to read this girls story. (Courtesy of Trolley Books)

Fleeing the gang warfare and violence inherent in Somalia, the refugees head North towards the coast, with a promise of a better life.   The journey overland to the smuggler towns, can take weeks and with danger around every turn.   The refugees are often beaten and robbed at temporary checkpoints along the roads, stripping them of their meagre possessions.  
Once reaching the town where the smugglers work from, many call their relatives to get money wired through to them to pay for the crossing to Yemen.   A Million Shillings, or 50 dollars is the price of this dangerous journey.   
Once the money is paid, the smugglers take them to the coast; a journey taking many weeks in cramped transportation before they have to wait for days, often out in the open on exposed beaches.   At this point the refugees have exhausted their food supplies and until they reach the coast of Yemen, will have nothing to eat.   


(Courtesy of Trolley Books)

Once the boats are ready, they wade out into the waters to get dragged up onboard the boats, where they are tied together in a chain by the smugglers for the journey ahead.   
The smugglers are violent men and abuse and kill the refugees at many points on the crossing.   Summary executions are often held on the beach where trouble makers are lined up kneeling on the beach before they are shot.  
On the boats the situation is no better.   They have to sit with their legs pulled in; stretching out your legs can mean a beating or even death.   Anyone who complains can also be killed and thrown overboard in the 2 to 3 day crossing.
Once reaching the Yemen coast, due to police patrols, the refugees are thrown overboard often 2 kilometres off the coast.   Many can't swim and others are too exhausted to make it to the beaches.   

Only 1 in 20 people survive the journey.

If they make it to the beaches of Yemen they are faced with few options in this country.   Their situation is dire due to the amount of people arriving in the refugee camps and cities in Yemen, and often find that their lives consist of searching for food and a fight for survival.

(Courtesy of Trolley Books)

This book is an amazing accomplishment.   Often risking her own life to gain access to the refugees, Alixandra was shot at by the human traffickers, but persevered with talks with the smugglers to gain an inside view of the story.   The photos on the beaches of Somalia, showing the refugees boarding the boats could have been taken in no other way.   The story is comprehensive and deep, showing the horrific world these people have been born into.

Some of the most heartbreaking parts of this book are the many personal stories of the refugees both in Somalia and across Yemen.   These interviews are stories of unimaginable hardship and loss, often with a bleak future ahead.   The story of Salima on Alixandra Fazzina's website is one such story.

This should not only be classed as a photobook but also as a piece of journalism of the highest calibre, since the coverage of the story is so deep and intense.   In my previous post, I noted that if the current media does not start focussing on quality, they will become obsolete.   They should take a look at this book and learn what real journalism is.

The photos are underexposed which creates a brooding mood that fits perfectly with the story.   They are eerily beautiful.   They also put faces to the stories which gives the stories context in the real world.

I hope that this book can make it into the hands of anyone with enough money, power or control to do something to fix this situation.   Hopefully the mainstream press can show a section of the story, to gain publicity for this book and the ongoing situation in Somalia.   I also hope to see this book in future photojournalism awards.

The main issue with this situation is that there is no big event for people to take note.   The situation has progressively degraded over many years, which allows the situation to go unnoticed by the mainsteam media, which often focusses on sensationalism.
This book gives a voice to these forgotten people but the question is, will anyone listen?

(Courtesy of Trolley Books

If you want to contribute to helping these people, go to http://www.unhcr.org.uk/ and donate.