Joel Meyerovitz Talk at Darby Format 2011

I went to Format festival In Darby. This will be the last Space I will visit as it must be full steam ahead with my Exhibition. I went to Format two years ago. The Main Reason was to see a talk by Joel Meyerovitz  the American street  photographer I knew that this would be good to  see but I wasn’t ready for how much of a impact it would have on me. I’m not a fan of modern street photography as I see that most of it has been done in the past by masters like Meyerovitz Arbus and Winogrand. He was said to be on for over 1hr. 2.15mins later he asked did anyone have any questions?

He was like a evangelist giving a sermon. He spoke about his early days in graphics and the guy coming in to take pictures of his work which was Robert frank. He worked a lot with the Maverick Tony Ray Jones. where they both discussed the putting the subject at the side of the image as it was just as important as the traditional Middle. He talked how ” he would sharpen his skills by knowing where in as shot he didn’t have time or show courage”. Meyerovitz said the main lens he would use would be a 35mm on his Lieca as this was closest to the human eye. He kept preaching that you should always carry a camera that is how he got most of his shots. He Said “The world is dissolving in front of you have to take every second”.

When he started out there was only one small gallery in a  underground basement in the whole of New York that would show Photo images. The only Exhibition he ever saw there Ansell Adams and you could buy a original of his images for $25. It wasn’t until M.O.M.A curetted by John Swarovski. That photographty become recognised. He encouraged The crowd with “ Take a risk, take bad photographs be provocative”. All this was rumbling along at a great space to him using his view cam (10×8) camera. His work totally changed from the street photography that made his name. He had taken a large picture of the space at Versailles in the 1960s which in the mid 1970s become relevant and linked to the large format work he would from there on under take. However in October 2001 he was due to open an exhibition of work called looking south. This was from his studio and it was the changing skies of the world trade centre.

However there was on change in the September that the world could never predict. 9 days after 9/11 Meyerovitz had to do something. so he started to document inside the rubble of the World Trade Centre. He went from 10 stories high to 72 ft bellow sea level. I reckon that s about he size of the Blackpool tower to give a sense of scale. This is the only major document of the event. He had to cross red tape and threats of arrest to go about his job for the people. This will be shown in a book later. However through all the genius and Brilliance of the Talk. The last picture really choked me. A gray work man’s glove and rail track. This was the rail track of the land below the world trade centre that held the underground .9 months after he started photographing he was at the rail track. A Roland Barthes Comments With his Studium and punctum. This was a great example of it. You loved the image on first glance as you had a rough knowledge of the subject mater. It was when he explained that there was grass growing that had been covered for the thirty years that the trade centre had stud on it. He was using this for a Metaphor of how life heals and moves on. This was the closing statement from Joel Meyerovitz. Totally blown away by a master of his trade with a tear in my eye concluded a beautiful Experience.


All Saints Upton Primary School Book

I have been approached by the head of All Saints Upton Primary School in Widnes Cheshire Janette Forest to compile a book of the school before it closes and the children move to a new school. To coincide with this there will also be an open night for past teachers and pupils. I helped construct a invite for to the specification of Janette. I found this a little restrictive because i had no creative control of the invite

Ive got a few ideas for the book but im really going to work on the fly with it and see what happens

The idea with the book was to get into the school and capture a day. Showing the pupils in classrooms and capturing anything of relevance to my own eye from my time there. The photographs would culminate with me taking pictures in the open night, well that was the plan?  I thought it would be important to give the book relevance in the same way Robert Frank did with the Americans. He had his foreword written by Jack Kerouac. so I got a foreword from Janette Forest the head teacher:

When I heard that Halton’s Primary Capital Project bid had been accepted and we were to have a brand new building, I was delighted. Since Upton County Infant School and All Saints Junior Schools had amalgamated in 1997, we had operated in two buildings, both in need of modernization and failing to meet the demands of education in the 21st Century.

Children, staff, governors and partner agencies worked with the architects to design our new school and we we’re all excited when the building works began in January. At the time it seemed that completion was a long way ahead, but here we are with only a few weeks left in our “old” school.

It was lovely to see so many of our ex staff, friends and pupils, many of whom I hadn’t met before, at our “last look round”; and it was interesting hearing all their stories.

I expect I shall shed a tear when the doors close on our old buildings for the last time, as I too have many happy memories, but I look forward  with enthusiasm  and feel privileged to share in the next chapter in the life of All Saints Upton.

Not be out done i wrote a poem to my time in the school and the fact in perfect juxtaposition i was coming back to photograph inside the last days of the school:

October 1987,

A storm rolls in,

To the still fresh-faced bricks and mortar.

Twisted and confused,

Spat out from an enforced lack of interest,

Apparent stability and the warm current cools the wind.

The kind you would see,

Gently blow tumbleweed along a dusty road,

The occasional bump of turbulence influencing it’s direction.

Many years on,

The wind has now dropped,

And returns like an Indian Summer,

Yet the winding road draws to a close,

Soon to be gone like some of it’s characters,

Who in the prevailing breeze of change won’t be forgotten?

Alan Whitfield

I never went to the infant school so I did not plan in capturing i’m ages in there. I just wanted to concentrate on the idea of the juniors full and empty and as stated above. I was told I had to do in the infants, as due to school politics it would have started world war three had I left them out. I captured the young people at assembly in both school and got the all to stand up. I was given the greatest introduction maybe ever delivered in that hall. My old teacher told this to the children. She explained that when I was in the school I wasn’t the best behaved but I never gave up and know I’m in university. I was thinking to myself  “you best stop I’ve got to speak in a minute”.  I took two pictures in each one of the children waving and one of them hands at their side and the same with the infants.

So there we where the evening upon us! My crowning moment…

Crash it shattered it was going to be in both schools how was I going to get my group shot. I really was torn that my plans where falling before me. To add to this there was lot of under 18 ex pupils at the night. That yes you guest it I didn’t have consent forms for. I just had to bite the built and work for each shot rather than just going round capturing the event.

On entering what was the infant building there was tables out with photos on creating somewhat of a honey trap for people. As the night progressed this is where everyone gathered. So after capturing people looking through the old photos reminiscing. I got the group shot of all the old teachers and dinner ladies. The only down side of the image was the bag in the bottom left corner that had to be removed.

Having captured all the space full I knew I would need to return to the class rooms to fulfill my brief and empty spaces. Showing places where humans had been. I got some really interesting shoots of the empty chairs in class rooms this could be used in my exhibition. The light in the hall was also perfect for the sad feel I wanted people to envisage while viewing. However you will have to buy the book to see them.Heres a selection of the other images.

I wanted to try out blurb for my book as I had heard good reports on the products. There website was really easy use and not complicated. The only problem I had to cut 90 images down to fit into 35 pages. i wanted all the image to be  7×5 on the crop so they would be uniformed in presentation. Also there are a few images i shot in portrait which wasn’t in keeping. Thats why the picture of the tree is on the outside on the dust cover. I got all of the images printed then laid them out and whittled them down that way. I find you get a better flow of what i was trying to create.

The first book i looked at was Robert Frank The Americans. Possibly the most famous photography book in the world. So good ideas for layout. the fact that after the first few pages there is no text was something i wanted in my book let the pictures doe the talking. Other than the change of events from the open night

The Keith Arnet book was a big influence on the way i want my front cover to look. on thing i have learnt is im not a graphic designer so don’t try to be one. I put all my thought into getting my typography right

The layout of the Peter Ludlow book. The last Day of concord was a better way for me to get in the only portrait picture of a tree that i had. Also i could put the comments from the former pupil next to it. As originally planned I didn’t want them in my book.

The simple idea of just putting a name on the book was influenced by my favorite photographer Paul Graham. so hopefully my book will have a bit of everything in.

I have approached the Widnes weekly News to run a article on my work to try and sell some copies of my book. The story will feature a basic break down of what the book is about