Shoot don’t think

I was dropping off some hire equipment the other day when I noticed the packaging for a compact camera on sale.

Sure, some people don’t want the hassle of the technical side of photography, but there needs to be some thought going on somewhere. Otherwise, what’s the point of a random spray and pray approach?

Whether it’s the considered ‘pre-visualisation’ of Ansel Adams or the found serendipity of Eggleston, that shot just won’t be perfect without thinking what you’re doing…


Top Chef

At the weekend I was working on a stills and motion shoot at The Capital Hotel restaurant. Last week,The Capital was hosting Athinagoras Kostakos, from the acclaimed Bill & Coo Suites and Lounge on Mykonos as guest chef at the restaurant. He recently won the Greek version of the US reality TV series, Top Chef, and brings a modern flair to local Greek flavours.

Athinagoras was a charming guy and I found his kitchen relaxed and easy-going. Things I found out about him – he’s a big softy when it comes to his pet bulldog, and he sports a distinctive knife and fork tat on the outside of his right forearm, with ‘apprenti cusine’ on the inside.

The owner of The Capital, David Levin has championed the hotel restaurant since it opened, long before Ramsey et al came on the scene and boasts a roll call of past chefs including Richard Shepherd, Brian Turner, Gary Rhodes, and Paul Merrett.

Just in time

Tiananmen Square 'Tank Man'Elizabeth Taylor, 'Sandpiper'I always seem to leave it to the last minute to catch exhibitions, and then often miss them completely. I was gutted to miss both the Paul Graham and Thomas Struth at the Whitechapel Gallery last year.

Luckily, I was alerted to the last weekend of The Sunday Times Magazine 50 year anniversary retrospective at the Saatchi Gallery by my mate’s post on his blog.

It was amazing to see both the breadth and also the influence that imagery has had over the years. While I agree that the war photography had a solemn poeticism that’s lacking in today’s cameraphone footage, among the standouts for me were two very contrasting images.

The first is Stuart Franklin’s iconic image of the ‘Tank Man’ in Tiananmen Square from June 1989. There were actually four photographers who to managed to cover the event and also smuggle their undeveloped film out of the country – no upload over mobile phone network then. I’m old enough to remember watching the TV footage that summer, which seemed the catalyst for a wave of revolution across Eastern Europe, dramatically culminating in the fall of the Berlin Wall later that winter.

The other image is by Richard Avedon of Elizabeth Taylor on the set of Sandpiper in 1964. In this age of fleeting and undeserved 15 minute ‘celebrity’, Elizabeth Taylor had a star quality that’s hard to compare nowadays, renowned for both her professionalism and knowledge of film making. And at the time, Avedon was one of the leading American photographers working at the top of his game. No Instagram then…

D-Day cometh…

Steve McCurryToday, Canon announced the launch of the 5D Mark III, the much-anticipated update to that workhorse camera used by many pros worldwide. So, good news for me as I happen to use Canon digital camera equipment.

But where the good Lord giveth, he also taketh away. It’s the same week that Kodak announced that it was discontinuing three colour tranny films, including my all time favourite for food, landscapes and pretty much anything – Ektachrome E100G 120.

So does that mark the final slide into oblivion for Kodak and film itself? I’d like to think not, although the above caption seems to sum up the overarching sentiment amongst many. And that’s from Steve McCurry, the photojournalist who shot National Geographic‘s iconic ‘Afghan Girl’ cover on Kodachrome. It was taken from McCurry’s retrospective exhibition in London last September at Chris Beetles Fine Photographs on Swallow Street.

Maybe film will just become to photography what vinyl is to music – a nostalgic comfort blanket appreciated by the analog anoraks.

So the big question this weekend is, do I pre-order the 5D Mark III or buy a chest freezer and stockpile all the E100G 120 I can get hold of…?