This photoessay is actually composed of b-roll from another assignment; it fell outside the client’s brief. However, it’s about as easy to stop seeing and shooting things as it is for me to stop breathing for a long period of time – so I went ahead and photographed anyway, knowing that the images can’t be used for anything commercial. I’ve always found heavy industry to be fascinating – not just because it’s outside the sphere of normality for most of us, but also because there’s a big challenge in capturing and conveying the sense of scale of a place that’s unfamiliar and might lack visual cues for most. On top of that, throw in a whole bunch of interesting hardware, textures and abstract patterns, and you’ve got photographic nirvana. Some of the perspectives will be unusual because they were shot from a pilot boat on the harbour, or the bridge of one of the 1000-ft container ships. Enjoy! MT
I’ve always believed a strong image should be able to stand on its own without a title – after all, sometimes images and titles get separated (quite often, actually) – and if it isn’t self-explanatory to some degree without it, then the image itself isn’t clear. However, a good title certainly enhances impact of an image; it can explain, direct, add another layer of meaning, put into context, force the thoughts of the audience in a certain direction, create contrast or tension between perceptual reality and actual reality (visual content vs asserted content or vice versa) or merely serve as an easy method of reference to an image. I’ve frequently been asked how I pick a title for my images; today’s essay explores that in a bit more detail. There really isn’t a lot of science in it, though a large vocabulary probably helps, as does a ready store of cultural references. Firstly, I don’t think choosing – or perhaps more appropriately, creating a title can be entirely spontaneous and retrospective. In fact, it really all boils down to the fourth important thing.
I’ve wanted to present a book for a while, because I agree with these who’ve suggested in the past it’s an excellent way of presenting a set in a controlled and curated way – but have always held off for a couple of reasons; firstly, the work I want to present wasn’t finished enough to form a complete idea; secondly, there are challenges associated with economics, distribution, quality, etc. I thought I found a good enough solution…until the proofs arrived, and all of those things crashed back down to earth. So instead I’m going to offer you an apology.
The Internets have been alive with the noises of high resolution (if that isn’t a messed up metaphor, I’m not sure what is) cameras. “Finally, my photos will be better!” Let’s pause for a moment here. There are a lot of assumptions being made, and a lot which is not obvious. And I’m writing this article to address the flood of email I’ve been getting asking for an opinion.
I loved the short amount of time I spent in Chicago; more than enough to want to go back again very soon. I’ve never been in any other place that felt quite so much like being in an open-air architectural museum; it isn’t so much the history but the diversity of styles, the visible progression and being able to see these buildings very much used as intended, and sometimes beyond the imagination of the original architects. Several days of very cooperative weather and a never-ending variety of clouds didn’t do any harm, either. This will be my final post of images from Chicago; fittingly, it’s a mixed cityscape/ architectural set. Enjoy! MT
One of my recent assignments in Hong Kong involved some helicopter time; I made the most of the lull in transit between locations by doing a little sniping. I’m sure there was some subconscious inspiration by Yann Arthaus-Bertrand’s Earth from the air, but for the most part, I was doing my usual search for interesting geometries (and admittedly, some landmarks) but in mostly two dimensions.
On my recent trip to New Zealand, I spent some time exploring an aspect of photography which I hadn’t really done much work in up til now: long exposures, night work and astrophotography. Unfortunately there was only one clear night for the latter, and the duration of exposures + noise reduction meant not a whole lot of individual shot opportunities; still, I’m fairly pleased with the outcome – definitely something I’ll have to revisit in future.
Today’s post is one from the archives; back nearly to the beginnings of the site. I’m pulling it out again to set you up for what comes next.
A series of experiments was done many years ago that showed humans have been conditioned to expect certain things in the way of color: blue ketchup just doesn’t fly, for instance. The theory is that it’s a primeval subconscious response to warn us of danger. Think of it this way: rancid meat looks a certain way, and has a certain color. Even if we can’t smell it – looking at a photograph of vomit or something decomposing makes us go ewwww. Such examples are to be found in nature all the time – think of those brightly colored poisonous beetles, for instance. In fact, the link between color and range (and thus emotion) is so strong that many species mimic the coloring of more dangerous species to warn away predators, but at the same time rely solely on that as protection because they pack no venom or toxicity. (Toxicity is energy-consuming to produce, and in food-scarce environments, you want to waste as little of your nutritional intake as possible producing something that’s only going to help you if you’re eaten – and thus probably going to die anyway.)
Chicago can be considered both a city of architects and in a way, a city for architects; despite the huge number of other famous buildings in the city, I found myself particularly taken by the form and execution of the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. Perhaps it was because it was my first encounter in person with a Frank Gehry building – they’re understandably somewhat thin on the ground in Asia. It probably didn’t do any harm that I also happened to go on a day where the sky was throwing up a fantastic assortment of clouds and light; if you didn’t like the arrangement of cumulus, just wait a few minutes for a fresh one. And of course late September in Chicago means that the light is never directly overhead, because the sun sweeps over the horizon in an arc – making any time of day fair game to shoot.
Earlier this year, I was commissioned to shoot a documentary set for the International Lutheran Seamans’ Mission; an organisation that has stations around the world tending to the spiritual and more pedestrian needs of seafarers. I thought the brief was interesting – follow and document one of their mission leaders, on vessels of various sizes ranging from small wooden fishing boats to new 1000ft container ships – whilst interacting with the seafarers and looking for interesting vignettes. That will be the subject of a future On Assignment – the client has not yet published the annual report it was commissioned for.