Hands up who’s heard of Jeanloup Sieff?

Cultural trends are difficult to spot when you’re in the middle of them. They look like ‘normal’, it’s only with the benefit of distance can you join the dots. It’d be useful to recognise current trends because generally they are followed by the polar opposite. In fashion, plain is likely to be followed by pattern, natural by synthetic, subtle by loud. When type was set on film and photographic paper, Art Directors and Designers were obsessed with sharpness, because perfectionRead more

INTERVIEW: Jay Maisel.

I’ve worked with, met, written about and interviewed a lot of photographers over the years. But only one has made me run out and get the same camera he uses. Going through his work again for this interview reminded me that photography needn’t be big, complicated or scientific, it can simply be about the joy of seeing. Photography can be anything; two colours vibrating next to each other, light bouncing off a wall or simply someone doing something unusual. IRead more

The bit between the Me Pt. 1 and Me Pt. 2 podcasts.

Usually when I do these an interview or podcast, the challenge is trying to find the persons work, some people have not a scrap. (Yes, I’m talking about you Jeff Stark! And I haven’t forgotten you either Sid Myers!) I also like to add a bit of ephemera, for some colour, but it’s rare to come across that.   The challenge this time was what to leave out; the CDD phone lists, the Mercedes meeting notes or internal memo? InRead more

PODCAST: Me. (Pt. 1)

A lot of people have suggested that I do a podcast on myself. Aside from the obvious difficulties of trying to ask yourself probing questions, it felt a little bit indulgent, particularly as I did a whole series of them with my friend Ben Kay, (I think we recorded more episodes than the latest season of Game Of Thrones). But when someone who’s kindly agreed to be interviewed by me asks me to be interviewed by them, it feels rude to sayRead more

Hands Up Who’s Heard Of Bill Brandt?

I think Photoshop gets a bad rap. Yes, it can make models thinner and teeth whiter, but it’s not Adobe’s fault. I wonder whether it being associated with cheating and fakery may be behind the current trend for real. Take #NoFilter, fine if you’re taking pictures of a crime scene or for medical records, but being so pure can lead to some very bland images, and for what gain? Surely the goal should be to create the best image possible?Read more

Len Weinreich’s corkboard.

One of the side-effects of putting out this blog has been the people I’ve met. Take Len Weinreich, whilst trying to find Paul Leeves work for an upcoming podcast, I came across Len, it turns out he lives down the road from me. Alan Parker had referred to him as ‘the bloke who taught me everything I know about advertising’, Dave Trott said he gave him the best piece of advice on advertising he ever got and Paul Leeves simply saidRead more

In Front Vs Behind.

“In this, one of the most epic of Adam’s landscapes, humanity is signalled by a field of scattered crosses in the near foreground. The settlement itself makes an irregular diminishing rhythm from left to right, in contrast to the flowing horizontals of the mountain range and the swift, painterly markings in the sky. The whole of this musicality is related to the imperceptible slowness of the moon rising.” – Ian Jeffrey. I don’t know whether I agree with that, but it’s veryRead more

Hands Up Who’s Heard Of Andreas Feininger?

My first office didn’t have a computer on the desk. The key piece of kit Art Director’s needed to operate in those days was a pen. The people who were best at drawing were generally the best at Art Directing. It probably seems like a weird coincidence now; what has drawing go to do with Art Directing? It wasn’t the drawing. Because they could draw they ended up in art colleges, the better they could draw the longer they gotRead more

Hands Up Who’s Heard Of ‘Environmental Portraits’?

Not me. Well, not until last week. Don’t get me wrong, I knew portraits had been taken in environments, I’m no fool, but I didn’t realise it was a genre with its own name. Environmental Portraits are portraits that have been “executed in the subject’s usual environment, such as in their home or workplace, and typically illuminates the subject’s life and surroundings”. It turns out that one of my favourite portrait photographers, Arnold Newman, was it’s father of Environmental Photography. (Although he hatedRead more

Hands up who’s heard of Saul Leiter?

The of most important part of photography isn’t anything technical, it’s where you point the camera. It’s why 99% photos look dull, everybody points in the same direction. Often it’s because people don’t think that they have other options, or they feel too self-conscious to point their camera in the ‘wrong’ direction, it feels so unnatural. “Seeing is a neglected enterprise.” as Saul Leiter put it. He must’ve looked weird whilst doing his seeing; his camera would be pointing inRead more