I had a recent idea, that ended up being a spur of the moment exchange with Jörn M.Colberg of Conscientious and as I was reading his post on his favourite Phonebooks of 2015 (link above), I found myself reading about the little twitter exchange that we had. This has made me actually sit down and write about, what has influenced me in the past year. Now, I realise that most of these lists are about what was new in the year, that has just finished and I am not sure if that is helpful, as often the things that influence you are not always published in the year that you discover them. I for one, like the idea of a list of things that influenced you in the past year. I have spent quite a bit of time this year thinking about my future and where I want to get to as a photographer. I am fascinated by economics and how this shapes people lives and yet it is something that I can’t really photograph. I can only show the effects of policy on peoples lives. So I realised at some point early on in the past year that I needed to get a different way to access my subject and as I want to work with banks and finance companies, to explore what I do and as their is little chance of them letting a social documentary photographer in I decided to set up a commercial website dedicated to servicing this industry. I was influenced in this, by looking at the work of Julius Schulmann and watching the films made on his life and work called Visual Acoustics. Why you may ask, it was the realisation that if you apply yourself to a subject for long enough you will make a body of work significant enough that it becomes what you do as a photographer. This was an important
I love street photography, I am still trying to get really good at it and this past year I have discovered the work of Harry Gruyaert his self titled book and his Maroc book are eye openers for me, in his use of colour and the way he exposed his images for the highlights allowing the shadows to go dark which reminded me of another photographer, Alex Webb whose work I like a lot and who has also influenced the way that I see.
I have brought a few books this year and one that I really liked, partly because it was so legendary, in photography circles and yet one that I had not seen is The Decisive Moment by Henri Cartier-Bresson. I have brought a few books on Photojournalism as I was asked to teach a class in Documentary photography and Photojournalism, The two that I would recommend as good text books and places to start are:
Photojournalism: The Professionals’ Approach by Kenneth Kobre, a good introductory textbook on the subject.
Photojournalism: Content and Technique by Greg Lewis, admittedly this book is from 1995 and is available on amazon for on only 1p plus postage, the information is a little dated, however it still had some good points.
I very much liked the work of Julian Roder and his book World Wide Order, which explores protest and globalisation.
I have decided, that I love what I consider well executed colour work made in and of this world. Maybe that is why I like street photography and social documentary photography and working in colour, as it blends all these influences into one practice.
Earlier in the year, I got to see the Garry Winograd exhibition at the Jeu de Paume, which as a fan of his work, was to me very interesting. I did not think that much of the quality of some of the prints, but then again Garry Winogrand was not really known for printing his work.
I spent some time poring over my birthday present this year, as my wife got me a copy of the Magnum Contact Sheets book, which allowed me to get an idea of the decisions, that where made by the photographers, while they where making the images.
That is my list for the year at the moment, as I am going to have to think more about what has influenced me as a photographer this year. Often the things that influence me are not readily apparent until later, when what ever it is has had time to percoloate into my consciousness from some source or other. This year has seen me make some work that is definitely commercial and now I am looking at exploring the city of London and doing a lot of street photography documenting the city. I need to get out more and then edit the images towards the end of January to see how it is going.