Friday, 30 November 2012

"I suppose nothing is better than being on your own with the camera"

Photographer Red Saunders came to CSM

I knew little about him before the talk, on my arrival i saw a man in his 50s wearing dungarees and what could be described as 'hipster' glasses and I thought, yeah this is a photographer (this is basically what my Dad wears, also a photographer).

Saunders at work on a shoot about the Leveller Women in the English Revolution (cool beard dude)

The projects he spoke of were about his trips to China and Kazakhstan, photographing the landscape as a reflection of social change. Red uses what he calls "old school photography" which is essentially plate photography. 

Using a glass plate with light sensitive solution covering one side which is then exposed to the light giving a unique and singular image. Glass Plate photography is difficult to replicate. 

The moment captured in the image, which due to the long exposure time could be a number of moments, is held on a plate. I am quite frankly besotted with this type of photography, and Saunders shared this love agreeing that the 'one-off' element of plates and the ability to capture movement are just a few of the things that drew him to this "old school" type of photography.

This is a mildly boring but very accurate video about the daguerreotype, best thing is to see them in real life, there some in the current exhibition at the National Gallery called Seduced by Art: Photography Past and Present

Walter Benjamin writes about daguerreotypes (the earliest type of plate photography) in his text A Little History of Photography and describes, with regards to portraits, that the long exposure time allows for the subject to grow into the image. This feels like quite a Romantic notion, of the sitter growing into the image, and more than just their physical appearance being captured in a photograph. Well Romantic notions are fine by me! And Saunders seemed to agree with Benjamin too.

It felt clear that Saunders is someone who has seen a lot, full of anecdotes and totally at ease in front of the class, it was a real delight to see him speak.

At the end I asked him (in relation to my dissertation on Photography and Solitude) whether  he felt photography was a solitary medium considering he still works with assistants due to the equipment he uses, and he said:

"I hadn't really thought about it like that, but I suppose nothing is better than being on your own with the camera..."

That relationship between the photographer and their camera is something I am yet to explore further, but Saunders helped provoke some interesting questions.

Click to go to Red Saunders' website

[Saunders' images are impossible to find on the www!]

Thursday, 29 November 2012


This is an interview with Tom Yorke talking about Neil Young, and essentially why he (Neil) is so amazing. This is amazing. Tom Yorke who is just delightfully weird, is a musician who is as interesting in conversation as he is when playing and writing lyrics like 

"I'm in the middle of your picture, lying in the reed."
(All I Need from In Rainbows, i'm presuming this is a reference to Ophelia)

And after you've watched this, to remind yourself (if need be) of the amazingness of Neil, watch this:

He's more charming than I could have imagined, and when he starts singing "A Man Needs A Maid" I die a little bit inside (in a good way).