Not a retrospective

It has become customary for photographers to do a year-end retrospective of their images and plaudits but I thought I might try something different. I’d like, instead, to introduce other photographers and artists whose work I have enjoyed this year and who have inspired me. I am a voracious consumer of visual art as I think it profoundly influences and improves my own work as well as being a very nice way to spend time. In no particular order, here are a few of my favourites from 2016.

Brian Kosoff

I was first introduced to this photographer’s portfolio at the end of last year and I’ve been back many times since. I am a fan of the cinematic crop and I think his beautifully composed black and white images are powerfully resonant.

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Valda Bailey

I bought a copy of Valda’s book, Fragile, earlier this year and it’s fast become one of my favourites. Her style couldn’t be more different from my own but I really enjoy the gentle, ethereal nature of the images she has collected in this book.

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Kozu Books

I have a bit of a photo book habit. I don’t try to control it. This year I’ve been indulging in a collection of small-but-beautifully-formed books from Kozu Books called Landscape Editions. It began with a beautiful book featuring the work of long-time-favourite, David Baker and, since then, I’ve bought every one. Last week, the latest three dropped onto my doormat, two lovely collections of forest imagery by Lee Acaster and Damian Ward and an arrestingly fine collection of black and white images by Matt Botwood. I like it that each book comes with a print that I can add to the inspiration wall in my studio.

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Susan Burnstine

More black and white, but it’s so good! Burnstine’s moody, grungy, square photographs of New York almost seem to vibrate with quiet power. Just me, perhaps, but do have a look – worth it.

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Jonathan Chritchley

I have benefitted enormously from Jonathan’s advice this year. He’s probably best known in the UK for his photography holidays, which are some of the most well-organised around. An inveterate globe-trotter and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, Jonathan is an accomplished fine art photographer. If you like well-crafted, black and white, mostly-square photographs, click through to his website – you won’t be sorry.

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Maggi Hambling

I was introduced to Hambling’s sea-paintings this Autumn during a trip to Suffolk and bought a copy of her book, The Sea (there’s that book habit again). Abstract and strangely unsettling at times, her paintings have inspired me to continue developing my wave photography. I’m not going to say any more about that, for now…

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Outdoor Photography magazine

My favourite photography magazine and the only one to which I subscribe. It’s a nice mix of imagery, news, technical and artistic information and thought-provoking opinions.

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That’s it. There are lots more I could mention but then this blog would be too long and no-one would read it! In the meantime, if you wanted to add in the comments below a photographer, publication or something else that has inspired you this year, I’d be delighted.

A new year, yet another new start

When I first started this blog, back in April 2012, I had a particular reason.  An injury meant that I was not able to get out with my camera to make new images.  Blogging gave me an outlet for my frustrated creativity and a new lease of life for images I had already taken.  Nearly 4 years later and the injury is still troublesome, but I have learned to live with it.  The brain is amazingly good at learning to live with things, even pain. The problem no longer stops me doing what I want and what I want hasn’t changed – I still love (am obsessed with) photography.

misty minimal picture from Venice

‘Five’: Venice

As I slowly returned to making new images, this blog became more and more sporadic. In the end, I will always choose to go out with my camera rather than spend time at the computer.  That is not going to change, but I would like to see if I can combine the two more effectively.  So I have signed up for Blogging 101 with good intentions.

Norwegian landsape

Still morning, Hamnøya, Lofoten Islands

Perhaps paradoxically, since starting a photography blog, I have obtained a Masters Degree in Victorian Literature and Art from the University of London. Yes, I like to read and write! Accordingly, I never intended Focused Moments to be a picture-of-the-day kind of blog. (Nothing wrong with those, by the way, just not what I intended.) Looking back at the early days, I see the posts that were most enthusiastically received usually had plenty of words as well as images.  A good example is my article about the relationship between photography and mindfulness.  So I plan to make time for more posts like that. I am also interested in exploring how the literature I enjoy and have studied may influence the images I make.

seascape

Tempest

Standard blogging advice is to write about oneself, to ‘make it personal’. I am not so sure about that. I am quite a private person and this is a public blog. The images will always be the heart of Focused Moments; I hope they are more interesting than me! Nonetheless, there are aspects of my photographic life that might merit more exploration. I enjoy exhibiting and have already written about some of my experiences in that area. Some readers want to know more about other things, my role as a camera club judge, for example, or what it is like to lead photography workshops. More on those, and other ‘stories’, will follow.

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Frost on the Wey

2015 was an epic year for me photographically. I hope that 2016 will be equally exciting and, if any of you share at least part of the adventure with me here at Focused Moments, this blog will have succeeded. It is up to me, now, to make it worth your time.

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Aurora over Skagsanden

 

Focused Moments, the exhibition

A5 flyer side 1

It is a year and 5 exhibitions since I decided to shift the focus of my photography towards the fine art side of things.  This time last year I was exhibiting a series of Surrey landscapes in a joint exhibition with my shooting buddy, Jenifer Bunnett, at The Lightbox in Woking. Then, in March, we showed some of the images from that exhibition alongside new local landscapes in ‘A Certain Slant of Light’ at the Guildford Institute. In August, I hung a panel in ‘Light on the Land’ at the Mall Galleries, and in September, five black and white pictures in ‘Mistresses of Light’ at the Oxo Tower.  It was a lot of work, and the learning curve was steep, but it was also great fun.  However, the climax of all this has to be my first solo exhibition, ‘Focused Moments’, currently showing at Arté Gallery in Weybridge.

exhibition bio

I needed a lot of images for this exhibition and I wanted to make sure I could offer something for all budgets and also remain true to my own style.  I must have spent a small fortune (I daren’t add it up!) trying different papers and framing options.  In the end, I went with three fine art papers in simple black frames and a few prints on aluminium.  I also decided to have two special books made for visitors to browse.  On the advice of the gallery owners, I have made these available as limited editions, and they seem to be going down well.

arte exhibition space

There is something really rewarding about filling a gallery. I have hung 60 images of which most are new pictures, taken in the last year, but there are some going back as far as 2009.  When planning the hanging in this intriguing space with several different surfaces, it helped to create groups of images that worked together and then it was relatively easy to decide the order of the groups so that the exhibition flowed.  I say easy – it still took us two full days to finish hanging the show!

arte exhibition pv

Of course, there had to be a party.  Many thanks to local lettings agents, Martin & Wheatley for sponsoring the opening.  In a bout of last-minute nerves, I worried that no-one would come, but I needn’t have fretted. In the end, the event was buzzing, and we sold seven prints and two of my limited edition books during the course of the evening. Phew!

PV

I think it’s important to be present at an exhibition as much as possible; people like to be able to talk to the exhibitor.  I have had many interesting conversations at the gallery this week, some with old friends and some with new. And today I got to show my Dad around, which was really special.

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If you have ever thought of trying something like this, I heartily recommend it.  The experience has been amazing – exhausting, but amazing.  It’s nice to sell, but even if I had sold nothing, it would still have been worth it.  Many thanks to Mike and Sally at Arté Gallery for allowing me to bring my work into their lovely space, to my friend, Sam, for all the fetching, carrying and coffee and to my daughter, Maggie, for her excellent work as server and photographer at the private view.  I couldn’t have done it without you!

Where land meets sea

The last few weeks have been hard and blogging has been far from my mind. But I wanted to share this slideshow, which I made for a talk I gave in the summer at the Shed Gallery’s ‘Muse’ exhibition in Lyme Regis. It features a few of my own pictures, but mostly inspirational images by other photographers that I selected from the Gallery, on the theme of my talk, coastal photography. Being a very proud Mummy, I must add that my favourite thing about it is the music, an original score composed and recorded for the talk by my very talented daughter, Maggie Talibart. Not too shabby for thirteen!

The Shed Gallery

The Shed Gallery

Seeing your work exhibited has to be one of the greatest thrills available in photography. Liberated from the hard drive, your images come to life, and take on new meaning as they resonate with the other exhibited images. People actually come to see them, and contemplate them, in real time, and not just because they want you to visit their blog/photostream/FB page/twitter feed.  Well hung, a collection of images becomes a body of work. And, let’s face it, exhibiting your own work is just plain cool.
The Shed Gallery
Staging an exhibition is a huge undertaking, and not just in terms of the obvious challenges: deciding on your image criteria (theme, style etc), choosing your best images, getting them printed to an exhibition standard, mounting and framing and making an aesthetically pleasing hanging plan.  Obviously, you have to find a venue.  Then, depending on your venue, you have to think about publicity, stewardship and pricing (if your work is for sale).  As that last point hints, it’s not a cheap project either.  Just a little bit of research locally has led me to conclude that a solo exhibition is going to cost well into four figures.  And the harsh reality is that most exhibiting photographers fail to sell enough prints even to begin to make a significant dent in all that investment.
The Shed Gallery
Yet, this year I have had the pleasure of having images exhibited in three (soon to be four) prestigious exhibitions.  Am I broke now?  No, because last Autumn I joined The Shed Gallery.  I was on holiday in Lyme Regis, on Dorset’s beautiful Jurassic Coast, when I came across an exhibition at The Malthouse.  The images were all printed on aluminium, which gave the exhibition an edgy, current vibe, and worked well in the space.  I also liked the way the photography mingled with original pieces of art, paintings and sculptures, giving an added layer of texture and interest.  The exhibition was by The Shed Gallery, and I got chatting to one of its owners, Chelsea Davine, herself a talented artist and photographer. The Shed is an online gallery specialising in aluminium prints.  There are plenty of ways of selling photography on-line but The Shed offers the added benefit of  staging real exhibitions of selected works and also has hanging space in Chelsea’s Barcelona Gallery.
The Shed Gallery
Since joining, I have had my work exhibited in London, Bristol and Lyme, and am delighted to be one of the featured photographers at a second exhibition in Lyme next month.  I have more than recouped my membership fee in sales and I have had the pleasure of exhibiting without any of the effort or financial risk; Chelsea and her business partner Ben do all the work!  In January, I attended the private view of The Shed’s Albion exhibition, at the Cock ‘n’ Bull Gallery under The Tramshed restaurant in trendy Shoreditch. I mingled with celebrities sipping champagne and actually looking at my work! I have also met, either online or in person, some very nice people, and enjoyed some inspirational images.
exhibition
Sadly, I can’t attend the winter exhibition as I will be in Australia, but if you are in Dorset between 17th December and 6th January, do consider popping into our exhibition.  And if you want to know more about The Shed, just pop over to the website and have a look round, visit The Shed’s blog, or feel free to ask any questions in the comments below.

Broken Light

kimmeridge

I hope you will forgive me for reposting this image, which I first blogged last year.  At that time, The Broken Light Collective asked me if I would allow them to use the image.  Shame on me I have only just this week got around to sending it!  The Collective is a group of photographers living with, or affected by, mental illness.  I am honoured that Into the Mist is currently their featured image and I cannot think of a better use for it than as inspiration for anyone who might be struggling with illness.

Winter walk

snow

I HAD for my winter evening walk
No one at all with whom to talk,
But I had the cottages in a row
Up to their shining eyes in snow.
And I thought I had the folk within:
I had the sound of a violin;
I had a glimpse through curtain laces
Of youthful forms and youthful faces.
I had such company outward bound.
I went till there were no cottages found.
I turned and repented, but coming back
I saw no window but that was black.
Over the snow my creaking feet
Disturbed the slumbering village street
Like profanation, by your leave,
At ten o’clock of a winter eve.

Robert Frost