Photo London 2016 (part 3)

Photo London 2016 – Other Highlights

Don Mcullin was named as Photolondons 2016 ‘Master of Photography’.  An exhibition of Mcullins work, spanning six decades was shown in association with Hamiltons Gallery.

In a Photolondon 2015 conversation with artist Isaac Julien, Mcullin says “Photography is a way of communicating and passing on information. Photography has been hijacked by digital practice and the art world it’s ok to be (just) a Photographer”.  Mcullin is untrusting of digital imagery where portions of the image can be moved or erased from the picture. “ Colour is re-inventing the chocolate box” I think he is saying that colour is making things appear ‘better’ than they are or fake and too staged.

In the conversations that I attended at Photolondon and interviews I have watched since, it seems that all the photographers use digital to some extent if not all the time but also have frustration of the digital revolution and the saturation of images upon us.

Photolondon in collaboration with the Leica gallery showed work by Magnum photographer Alex Webb. ‘ Selections’ are a collection of favourite images by Webb.With so many blown-up images taken with larger format cameras on display it was interesting to see how these images looked in comparison.  Webb uses a Leica 9 rangefinder camera and spends a lot of time walking the streets for a shot.

“I like to think my photographs question the nature of the world.  Working the way I work — wandering the streets, allowing my camera and my experiences to lead me where they will — is a long and often frustrating journey.  This kind of photography is 99% about failure.  Only occasionally do the gods of photography smile down on me and I stumble upon a startling moment in the street.” Alex Webb-The Leica Camera Blog 2016

As the day wore on, I felt as if I’d had ‘image overload’ photographs started blurring into each other and I knew I’d had enough for one day. Whilst looking for the exit, I stumbled upon a collection of older black and white images. Some of these by photographer Sabine Weiss (b.1924) but the ones that really caught my eye were by Spanish photographer Ramon Masats (b.1931) There were  similarities in the images to Cartier-Bresson, the form, shapes and shadows. These are the types of images I noticed when I first picked up the camera. The types of image that really excited me and inspired me in the first place.

In an exhibition of this size with the best that photography has to offer it is easy to feel intimidated rather than inspired. I was beginning to feel like producing work to this standard and attaining ‘success’ was even further away than before. Ramon Masats has reminded me of what I love about photography and because of this, it was my favourite part of Photolondon 2016.

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