Posted on August 7, 2020
Recently my photography has started to turn a corner. Leaving India in the dead of night came as a shock, and it’s taking a while for me to re-discover my photographic vision whilst in New Zealand. This is partly due to what I suspect has been some low-level depression, combined with high-level anxiety. I am sure there are many others in the same boat, and given the circumstances it is unsurprising. Photography is of course a wonderful anti-depressant, and capturing a decent photo provides a natural rush of endorphins! As with any changes in life, there are both positives and negatives.
India is arguably one of the greatest places in the world for photography. The diversity of the population lends itself to colourful images of people and places. Most of the population appear happy to be photographed, making Street Photography a pleasure. The heavy pollution found in most of the large cities creates a soft diffused light, creating etherial pictures at dusk and dawn, whilst softening the harshness of the midday sun. With India’s current Covid numbers at over 2 Million, the country is going to be off the Travel Photographers radar for a while yet. Even when I return, I cannot envisage walking around in the crowds like I once did.
New Zealand has a population of roughly five million. There are more sheep than people. Unsurprisingly, most of the population are used to their space, and an in-your-face Bruce Gilden approach of photography is likely to lead to conflict. This has lead me to try different approaches to what I am doing. As with any transition, my ‘style’ is a little ad-hoc. However, I have now been here for three months, and a collection of ideas has started to grow. Here are some of my ideas for inspiration.
The suburbs of NZ are dark at night. I like this photo, the scarcity of light creates opportunities for minimalism. While in India I viewed a project where photographers explored Bangalore at night, looking for locations where light escaped. As with all creations, I am pinching the idea and making it my own.
Still life photos can make the ordinary extraordinary. I have spent a couple of Sunday afternoons trying to capture NZ’s streets, which are often devoid of life. Time to roll in some creative ideas. Quite often I will touch these photos up, using a 35mm film preset to give the images a bit of grain. Crystal clear digital images can often look quite boring. After all, who want to see reality as it really is?
Photographing the human condition is one of the most rewarding form of photography. I may take inspiration from Magnum’s Alec Soth, and start seeking characters to photograph. Discrete candid photography also remains an option. My attitude to seeking permission to take an image has changed over the last few years. Five years ago I would have argued that a photo taken with permission cannot be a ‘street photo’. Now I am not so sure, or maybe just do not care.
Photographers can be very divisive when discussing film. Sure, it is a pain in the arse, expensive, unreliable and limiting in terms of the number of shots you take. I’m not going to be ditching digital any time soon. But I do enjoy playing with analogue technology. I also prefer listening to a vinyl records than to streaming devices! At some point I will try to develop my own film, just because I will be able to lock myself in a dark room and pretend I’m Ansel Adams. And yes – film does look better.
Portraits are a wonderful way to connect with people. The image above was taken during quarantine in NZ. Annie Liebovitz states that she is a portrait photographer because people expected her to adhere to a genre. Portrait photography may be a path into commercial work, and with a world-wide recession looming that may not be a bad idea. However, I suspect many portrait photographers are going to be struggling throughout the rest of 2020.
I’m a bit of a city boy when it comes to photography. Having beautiful nature on my doorstep is opening a whole new world. Definitely finding my feet in terms of style. One tool that is very useful at the moment is Luminar 4, the landscape profiles provide a great starting point for editing an image. In addition I have just purchased a WACOM pen and tablet, but I will save that for another blog!
Take care and keep clicking, Chris
Posted on July 23, 2020
Numerous photo challenges were set during the world’s period of isolated lockdown. I started three and finished one! This challenge was set by Zack Arias (google him), and was to make a short video of the time spent in lockdown. Now the challenge is completed, I wish I had taken more video. The exercise has definitely made me think that I really don’t use my camera to it’s full capabilities by being a ‘stills photo purist’.
I’ll warn you now – there is nothing super exciting here to see. The final product is more for my own memories than anything else. Watch if will, you have been warned! However, I will not return the 2:16 of your life.
I did try two other challenges. One set by the rather fantastic Ted Forbes, and another by Thomas Heaton – look em up on youtube if you don’t follow these challenges already. Neither of these task took off, but maybe I’ll look at them again on a rainy day. Currently my challenge is to continue to record my time in Blenheim, ideally with some superbly shot street photography! Drop a line below if there is a challenge you have completed – don’t forget to leave a link to share your work.
Keep Clicking, Chris
Posted on July 16, 2020
It’s an odd thing, how we can mentally beat ourselves up over something we said ages ago, and certain words come back to haunt us. My latest mental rumination comes from a comment I said about landscape photography. I said it was easy. In fact I went further than this, stating that if you lived somewhere that looked good, all you had to do was step outside your door and take a photo. Now I’m in New Zealand, and my current accommodation is a stones throw from some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. I’m talking about a misty township set amongst rolling green fields, and rows of grape vines leading to snow-capped mountains. It should be easy. It’s not…. Landscape photographers, I am sorry and I was wrong. It turns out landscape photography is quite a challenge!
Why Landscape Photography?
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. I am currently recording my time spent in New Zealand’s South Island, and will continue for however long this may be. This ‘project’ will hopefully cover travel, street, and portrait photography. In addition it will inevitably include close family. To document NZ without recording the majestic ‘Lord of the Rings’ landscapes, would surely be remiss. I am also getting pulled towards this genre by Thomas Heaton’s excellent Youtube channel (google it – you will be entertained and informed!).
So it’s Harder than it Looks?
My most recent attempt at landscape photography took me up the Wither Hills, which are situated about 1km away. I got there on my mountain bike and proceeded to peddle up the hill. Actually I ended up pushing the bike. Here is the first problem, getting to a spot that looks good can take a lot of work! As with all genres of photography, lighting makes or breaks a photo, hence my early-morning start. Note to self: spectacular sunrises do not always happen, and I seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time for the shot I had planned! The third challenge is post-processing. There is a LOT of post processing undertaken with the landscaping crowd, far more than with the conservative approach of Street Photography. Shooting RAW means that some level of post processing will always be needed, but I am still finding my feet when it comes to developing a ‘style’. Luminar 4 is one programme that helps bring the most out of even the poorest landscape photos. However, this genre is sure to stretch my photoshop skills.
Try it Yourself
Landscape photography definitely provides something new to try, and studying this genre will make me a better photographer. Any time spent studying light is time well spent! If you do try this yourself, you will probably need a tripod, particularly if you aim to shoot in low light. In common with street photographers – a strong pair of shoes will also come in handy!
If you do have tips or resources on landscape photography please let me know below. I’m learning!
Documenting a quieter place is a challenge. The anonymity of a city is lost, and the candid snapshot feels more of a threat. Asking permission and seeking interesting characters may be a way forward. On a wider scale, the opportunities for far-flung travel photography appear to be receding, or at least becoming a greater challenge. Photography on the doorstep is to be one current path forward. Either way, a day spent with a camera in-hand is sure to bring some peace and joy.
Peace, and take care wherever you are taking photos, Chris.
Posted on July 2, 2020
“When you’re in a slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.”
Dr Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
Posted on June 18, 2020
Like many people, I have been moved by recent images of Black people being murdered by White people in America, and I am not so ignorant as to think that racism is just an American problem. Pagespics supports the #blacklivesmatter campaign. I have used my White Privilege to roam the world with my camera freely, and am rarely questioned about what I am doing. It is questionable as to whether a Black person would have the same degree of freedom in many parts of the world, and perhaps this is why there are apparently so few Black Street Photographers. Alternatively, it may be that Black Street/ Documentary photographers are poorly represented (they are). This is my attempt at amplifying the issue of racism. Ironically, we are looking at a very well known street photo that was taken by a white guy.Read More
Posted on May 22, 2020
As Covid 19 restrictions start to lift, we are hopefully getting back to some Street Photography! While my Sony is off being repaired I am going to be shooting with my trusty Olympus Em5ii AND a new camera…. sort of. I have been loaned a manual Cosina CT1G, which means I am going to be playing with film again. The camera is matched with a 50mm 1:7 Pentax prime lens, a favourite focal length of mine. Apparently this lens works best around f4, so we will see how it goes!
This week I have been dipping into the Annie Leibovitz ‘Teaches Photography’ course. I’m going to look at two salient issues discussed during this Masterclass. The first is the importance of photographing family and friends. Family tend to have more patience than strangers. They also get used to you and forget that you are there, providing the opportunity for a candid frame. As usual, I like to edit my family pics in black and white, just so they differ from my other work. Some of the most iconic photo projects have come from studies of family and friends, and here I am thinking of Sally Man’s ‘Immediate Family’ and Nan Golding’s, ‘The Ballad of Sexual Dependency’. Both great books that should hold a place on any photographers shelf.Read More
Posted on May 18, 2020
My two weeks of managed isolation in New Zealand has come to an end and I am currently free to roam. My current home in Blenheim (top of the South Island) will be a challenge for street photography, but there are heaps of interesting people around and some spectacular landscapes to capture.
During isolation I managed to carry out a little photography, and I wrote a poem. First, the photos, click on them to enlarge…
Photography and Poetry
Alec Soth is a Magnum photographer who has discussed the parallels between poetry and photography. You can hear a little about his views on poetry here. With this in mind, I took pen to paper and had a go. Are there other photographers out there who have tried poetry?. Be kind, I have never published a poem before (yes, I know that after reading this there will be someone who begs me never to publish a poem again!).
Well that is it for now. In the meantime, some of you will notice that I have started a re-vamp of my website, and that at the moment it is looking very half-done. Not sure when this job will be finished as I have also got my hands on a old Cosina mechanical camera, and I may fulfil my goal of shooting and processing film. Taking photos is always more fun than maintaining websites!
Keep Clicking, Chris
Posted on May 1, 2020
This post is being writing from New Zealand whilst under ‘supervised lockdown’. This comes from the NZ Government’s superbly planned emergency exit from India. Supervised lockdown is turning out to be a life of luxury in a very nice hotel in Christchurch. The meals are so good I am considering taking up food photography. Freedom is limited for the next two weeks, putting street and travel photography well out of reach, so brace yourself for photos of an empty carpark!
On fleeing India, I did manage to take a few snaps of the airport, deserted streets, and Covid 19 signs. I also managed to bust the focus joystick on my Sony A7iii. This trip is going to be expensive.
If you look carefully at the photo of the Covid 19 sign, you may see something is not quite right. The photo is a ‘cheat’ as I changed the sky. I have also done this in the photo below. Changing the sky is a difficult task in Photoshop, and something I am unlikely to try. But this task is a breeze when using Luminar 4. Doing this feels like cheating, and is not something I intend to make part of my everyday workflow. For the two photos included in this post (the second image is posted below), the skies used are not even my photos. I guess for travel photography I may start collecting fantastic images of skies for use with Luminar 4, we will see. However, I can’t see this practice as something that can be undertaken for Street Photography. At the moment the juries out on how I feel about replacing skies. But it is a fun tool to play with whilst under lockdown!
Nothing But Flowers (and Potatoes)
Well to round of this extremely exciting blog post I will fill you in with my current project. Flowers. Not normally a flowers guy, but I’m walking round a garden everyday and that is what I see, so that is what I will shoot. There are people, but there is an odd atmosphere around the place and I have not yet become courageous enough to ask the people guarding the facility for a snapshot!
One competition that has caught my eye is the Potato Photographer of the Year Award. This is judged by non-other than Magnum’s Martin Parr. The competition raises money for the Trussell Trust Charity and costs a fiver to enter, so a bit of a bargain. There is also a chance to win a camera, which would be useful since I bust mine on the journey to NZ!
Well that may well be the first and last photo of a flower you will see on this blog, but who knows, everything is changing at the moment! Next week I may have a photo of a potato to share. While you are here, please take the opportunity to support this blog through ‘buy me a coffee‘, a platform that helps support artists and bloggers. Details at the end of this post.
That is all for now folks, now I’m off to find a potato.
Keep Clicking, Chris
Posted on April 21, 2020
This week I received an email from Peter Nitsch, who is looking for support of his Kickstarter Campaign, which he is putting together for his book ‘Tango In The Big Mango’. I usually ignore these emails, but I checked out his website and it all looks legit. The book is based around Bangkok, one of my favourite cities for photography (and a location that I missed this year due to Covid-19). Have a read, check out his website and the kickstarter campaign. It looks like a great book and I am delighted to support the campaign. Alternatively, scan down to the bottom of this email for a link to his website.
Take Care, Chris..
‘Tango In The Big Mango’ – a Baudelaire-like photo documentary about Bangkok, working at a ground zero of now-ness.
ABOUT THE BOOK
I tend to see this group of works as ‘documentary’ in a unique sense of the word. We tend to think of documentary as something like a capture ‘that is highly instructive and explanatory’, but I see Nitsch’s use of the ‘documentary’ as something far more Baudelaire-like, a split second in time that lends our eye something prior to narrative meaning and description/definition.“ – GREGORY GALLIGAN, Director Thai Art Archives.
A distinctive and raw portrait of contemporary Bangkok and its inhabitants that remains as complicated as inscrutable. Like Tango, Bangkok has influences from many countries. This photographic documentary concept explores the question of identity, and the boundaries between growth and angst – ‘a finite attempt at conceiving of the inconceivability, that is life.’ — RETO F. BRUNNER, Curator photoMÜNCHEN
The photo book ‘Tango in the Big Mango’ shows Bangkok as a city in which the coexistence of different cultures and people from different countries, despite their peculiarities, have found a way to live together.
The photo book is a mixture of documentary/street and conceptual images. Therefore the book is split into four parts: The main part is documentary/street photography, the other three minor parts are concept based around the themes GREED, GROWTH and ANGST. Together they form the documentary concept ‘Tango in the Big Mango’, that captures the intensity of urban life and barrage of consumption, culture and eccentricity in Bangkok.
English Hardcover 25 cm by 30 cm100 colour plates, 160 pages
Print run planned Release Date: April 2021
For over 2 years, I worked on my own dime for this project. Now, additional funds are needed to complete printing the photo book and to exhibit. I would like to produce the very best book possible: a book without compromise and one whose quality will do justice to the many years of work which went into it’s making.
If you are interested in the book and the story of it, this campaign would be a perfect opportunity to support the project by posting the Kickstarter project:
With your help, the legacy for ‘Tango in the Big Mango’ will be the stunning, collectable photo book that I’m hoping to produce. Your support will make this book possible!
ABOUT MEPeter Nitsch’s background is located back in the late eighties of the German Skater scene. He studied communication design in Munich, to later graduate as designer from the University of Munich, department of design (specializing in motion design). As on air designer he worked for clients such as Universal Studios, ProSieben, 13th Street, SciFi Channel and United Nations. After that period of time, he returned to concentrate to work on corporate design and photography.
Nitsch has won several international awards both as designer (New York Festival, BDA…) and photographer (Los Angeles International Photography Award, Hasselblad Masters semifinalist…). He is co-founder of the ‘Playboard Magazine‘, ‘RUPA‘ and the former culture blog ‘get addicted to…‘.
In 2020 Nitsch became a life time member of The Royal Photographic Society of Thailand.
Contact Peter Here