Photo Exhibition – All human life

Tate Modern’s new exhibition of street scenes holds a mirror to its audience, says Adrian Searle. And with a story on every corner, the world feels full

Wednesday May 21, 2008
The Guardian

Portraiture is the key to Tate Modern’s new photography exhibition, Street & Studio. The show’s subject, over and above the medium and conventions of photography, is really ourselves, in a multitude of guises.
Grace Kelly jumps in the air for Philippe Halsman’s camera in 1955. Weegee jumped, and so did Marilyn, and now they’re suspended forever. David Bailey throws himself to the floor to photograph Veruschka, while Bert Stern nabs them both in an arty 1960s image. Last year South African photographer Pieter Hugo shot Nigerian Abdullahi Mohammed beneath an elevated section of highway in Lagos. Abdullahi holds a muzzled hyena on a chain. The moment is full of power and danger. Caught on camera, a well-groomed lawyer on the corner of West 41st Street totes his laundry and eyes Joel Sternfeld warily in 1988. The world feels full.

From beginning to end of this compendious and not altogether successful show, like a kind of insistent background din, is the roar of the city. You can hear it above the silence of the images themselves – in the clatter of a Paris street in the rain by Alfred Stieglitz, in the footsteps of commuters heading for work in Paul Strand’s 1915 Wall Street, in the drunken shouts and murmurs of Boris Mikhailov’s alcoholics. The exhibition calls itself an urban history of photography, and it takes us from mid-19th century Paris and London to present-day Shanghai and Mexico City. In many respects, it covers familiar territory: histories of photography are 10 a penny. Some of the work here just feels unnecessary.
The city, after all, is where the people are. It’s where the business is, where photographers have mostly earned their living, some taking street life as their subject, others in the studio, with their controlled lighting and fanciful backdrops. But the street is a studio, too. And there’s traffic all day up and down the stairs to the studio.

With its chance encounters, its collisions of class and circumstance, the street has provided inspiration for the photographer, the artist and the writer since at least the 19th century. One of the first images in this show is an 1863 portrait of Charles Baudelaire, who stares out from the beautiful tonal gradations of his formal photographic portrait with an uncontainable look, and as though he’d like to climb out of the picture – probably to borrow some money. In his famous essay, The Painter of Modern Life, Baudelaire identified the quintessential, heroic figure of 19th-century urban life: the flâneur, “the impassioned observer”, who feels “at home in the waves of the crowd, in movement, in the fugitive and the infinite”. This attitude worked for Brassaï on his long nocturnal walks, and for Henri Cartier-Bresson, ever alert for his decisive moments in Paris, Mexico and Seville. Catalan photographer Joan Colom’s marvelously atmospheric nocturnal images capture the prostitutes, drunks and sleaze of Barcelona’s El Raval neighbourhood in Franco’s Spain. Colom just had to walk to the corner and look; the world is always there.

At the turn of the 20th-century, Louis Vert photographed a set of images, the Small Tradespeople and Vagrants of Paris – rag pickers, glaziers, tinsmiths. In the 1870s, John Thomson compiled image after image of picaresque Londoners – “the Dramatic Shoe-Black, ‘Caney’ the Clown, and the Temperance Sweep”. All conform to the malodorous music-hall type: folkloric they may have seemed, but what they really were was desperately poor.

For his project People of the 20th Century, August Sander later itemised the organist, the war veteran, the washerwomen and the worker’s gaunt children. There are people struggling with panniers, bowed by immense loads, people just off the bus, people pretending to be other people, people trying to be themselves (the last being the trickiest of all to pull off).

Juergen Teller in Go-Sees (1998-1999) photographed prospective models sent by their agents to come calling at his door. He shot them framed in his west London doorway, caught between anonymity and potential fame, looking apprehensive, disarmed and disconcerted. They are types to the same degree as Friedrich Seidenstücker’s burly workmen. In fact, it is impossible to avoid the feeling that one is looking at people acting out roles for the camera just as much as they are being themselves. When Teller has photographed me, he has rattled and goaded me into behaving in extreme and theatrical ways, and it was through this that a sort of photographic candour emerged.

For all the stagey artificiality of his photographs of debutantes, society beauties and grande dames, Cecil Beaton managed to coax something wonderful from the likes of Wanda Baillie-Hamilton and Lady Bridget Poulett as they posed in a world of tin-foil, cardboard, balloons and cellophane. There was no Photoshop, no Botox: glamour couldn’t be airbrushed in. Today, we question the voracity of the images we see, but photographs have always been calculated, manufactured in some way. Their light is engineered, their tones and surface qualities a matter of choice.

“The ubiquity of image-making has created the visual equivalent of white noise,” Michael Bracewell writes in the exhibition catalogue. But we are accustomed to seeing through this perpetual blizzard of static. What we find there is the ghost in the machine: ourselves. Here we are then, in all our vainglory, posed, rehearsed, interrupted, caught off guard, spied on, framed and captured, the willing and unwilling participants in this game of images. At one extreme, we have the playacting of Cecil Beaton or Robert Mapplethorpe, with his man in a rubber suit and restrictive breathing apparatus. At the other, the corpse on the pavement, leaking blood into the gutter, in Mexican Manuel Alvarez Bravo’s 1934 Striking Worker, Assassinated. It’s hard not to think, looking at this supine and bloody corpse, not to think of Eduard Manet’s dead matador.

In 1946 Lee Miller photographed the Fascist ex-Prime Minister of Hungary, László Bárdossy, as he faced the firing squad in Budapest. He stands below us in a courtyard against the sandbags. It occurred to me that he is maintaining his dignity, not daring to break down or plead for mercy, precisely because he knows he is being photographed. He’s being shot for posterity, after all.

Everyone likes looking at photographs and almost everyone collects them in one way or another. Most of us enjoy taking them and appearing in them. Photographs are personal as well as public. Often, they tell us things we know but ignore. In 2000, Wolfgang Tillmans insinuated his camera between the colliding bodies on crowded London Underground trains. The images are a wealth of accidental, fragmentary intimacies. Strap-hangers’ armpits fill the frame, bulging cloth and a cleavage, bits of bodies and attitudes of studied indifference. The best of these images defamiliarise the world for us, making it more mysterious rather than explaining it.

Something strange happens in a 1928 view of the street by Umbo (Otto Umbehr). The camera looks straight down from a balcony. People pass by below, casting long afternoon shadows on the street. The shadows appear more real and substantial than the figures they belong to, as if they have lives of their own, and might slip away from their owners at any second. Setting up an image like this in the studio could produce only something ersatz and artificial. Umbo found it on the street, lit by sunlight. It is a haunting image, one that makes us feel insubstantial. If only the rest of the show was this good.

Street & Studio is at Tate Modern, London SE1, tomorrow until August 31. Details: 020-7887 8888.

Unseen UAE Photography Exhibition

Runing until May 29

H.E Mohammed Khalaf Al Mazrouei, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH), inaugurated yesterday at the Cultural Foundation, a photography exhibition entitled ‘Unseen UAE’, presented by Photolosophy and  supported by ADACH.

The inauguration was attended by prominent members of the UAE’s culture, arts and photography scene as well as members of the general public. The exhibition, which was also supported by Shell Abu Dhabi and HP, is open to the public and runs through until May 29, features 30 unique pieces and explores overlooked and unseen corners and images of the United Arab Emirates.

This collection will engage the viewer to reconsider the many appealing and inviting aspects of UAE life. The exhibition aims to push the boundaries of traditional thinking when it comes to UAE photography by presenting new ideas technically and artisitically.

Participating photographers include some of the brightest and creative young local amateur and professional photographers. Founded by 3 Emirati sisters, Photolosophy was set up in 2006 to respond to the demands of creative professionals in the UAE for good quality, high resolution images at fair prices.

It is the first and only online stock photo agency in the UAE dedicated to promoting local photography talent. Photolosophy’s roster of local photographers include several promising award-winning Emirati photographers. Registration on the website for both photographers and buyers is free

Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage

Final Year Photography Show – Blackpool & The Fylde College

See the work of the 2008 graduates of Blackpool & The Fylde College at the Menier Gallery at the

The Menier Gallery will this June be hosting an exhibition of work from the 2008 graduates of Blackpool & The Fylde College.

Entitled ‘One Night Stand’ this is a showcase celebrating three years practice and experimentation for the current graduates, and a proud new addition to the strong cannon of works from the prestigious photography course.

The artists will be available to discuss their creations, whilst preparing to engage with the contemporary photographic industry

The exhibition is running from Tuesday June 10th to Saturday June 14th and is open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 6pm.


Nikon wiped the board at this year’s prestigious Technical Image Press Association (TIPA) awards picking up three accolades for its professional products.

Thirty of Europe’s leading photographic magazines from across 13 countries recognised the Nikon D3, D300 and 14-24mm f2.8G ED lens to be the best in their category in terms of overall quality, performance and benefit for the defined end user.

Nikon won in the categories Best D-SLR Professional (D3), Best D-SLR Expert (D300), and Best Professional Lens (AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED). The awards further underpin Nikon’s leadership position in high-end photography and recognise the company’s continued pursuit of excellence.

Robert Cristina, Manager Professional Products and NPS at Nikon Europe comments: “We are delighted that our engineering efforts have been recognised so comprehensively. These three awards affirm our commitment to providing the best imaging and optical technologies in the photography business.”

Comments from TIPA
Best D-SLR Professional: the Nikon D3
“This professional D-SLR is a milestone for Nikon. It’s the first camera from the company with a full-frame, FX-sized sensor of 23.9x36mm. As a result, each pixel featured on the 12.1 megapixel CMOS sensor has a larger size, and that means the low-light performance of this camera is truly incredible”, the TIPA jury commented. The D3 was also praised for its rugged, magnesium-alloy chassis and fast burst rate.

Best D-SLR Expert: the Nikon D300
The TIPA-jury comments: “With its solid design, excellent handling and robust, weather-sealed build quality, the Nikon D300 offers professional quality at a reasonable price. The 12.3 megapixel CMOS sensor delivers stunning results…” The D300 was also recognised for its fast, responsive Autofocus system and high-end features.

Best Professional Lens: the AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED
“This unique ultra-wide-angle zoom offers an extensive array of shooting opportunities for professionals and photo enthusiasts looking for superb optical quality”, the TIPA-jury concludes. The judges also mentioned the lens’s Nano-Crystal Coating, which reduces ghosting and flare between the lens element and the sensor.

Nikon continues to develop excellent products in line with its ambition to be the manufacturer and partner of choice for photographers at all levels.

DPI – The Digital Photography & Imaging Show

In a little under six weeks DPI will open its doors to thousands of professional photographers. DPI is planned as the first multi-branded London-based photographic show where agency and marketing folk and pro-photographers can gain advice and insight into best practice, go hands-on with latest products and solutions and network with their peers.

The Hasselblad Keynote – Christian Paulsen CEO of Hasselblad will provide an insightful review of the professional photography market and its future prospects. The keynote will also include a demonstration of Hasselblad’s industry-leading H3D MII and Hasselblad’s latest Phocus software.

The BJP Inspiration Forum – DPI working with the BJP has assembled a line-up of top industry gurus and practitioners to provide insight and advice on all aspects of the business:

COMMISSIONING PORTRAITS – Anne Braybon, ex-art director for Management Today, transformed the award-winning magazine by investing in cutting-edge portrait photography, and now¹s she doing that again for a series of commissions for the National Portrait Gallery, with photographers such as Don McCullin and Julia Fullerton-Batten.

LEARNING FROM LIFESTYLE TRENDS – Paul Foster, director of photography at Getty Images, explains how the agency analyses lifestyle trends and feeds that into briefs for its photographers and art directors. He will provide insight into how a shoot is put together, from the original idea to commissioning, photography and post-production.

SHOOTING STARS – Harry Borden, top UK portrait photographer, shoots editorial for Time, Fortune and Vanity Fair, and adverts for clients including BT, Channel 4 and Jonnie Walker reveals how he gets the most out of his subjects, often with just a few minutes shooting time, by using the locations to his advantage.
VISUAL JOURNALISM NOW – Sean Smith, award-winning Guardian photographer, illustrates how technology is
changing the way photojournalists work and explains why he has introduced filmmaking and multimedia presentations to his repertoire, shooting video while on assignment for the newspaper in Iraq.

THE ART BUYER’S PERSPECTIVE – Jess Crombie is an art buyer for some of London’s top ad agencies, as well as a photographers’ agent for Magnum Photos and Wyatt Clarke & Jones, commissioning photographers for the NGO’s work in Africa. The session provides an inside look at the contrasting world of advertising and documentary photography from an art buyer’s perspective.

The DPI Seminars – a broad series of 40-minute sessions will provide DPI attendees with detailed presentations of products and solutions.

Seminar presenters include:

Donovan Wylie of Magnum Photographers – speaks, courtesy of HP, about their work and approach

Tony Kirk of Colour Collective – best practice in the implementation of colour management

Richard West of Apple Computers – Retouch. Organise. Publish. Select. Perfect. Deliver.

Kevin Dobson of HP – a forum of photographic industry professionals discuss your specific printing needs

Colin Prior, Travel/landscape photographer, presents the use of technology such as Canon and Apple

Terry Steeley will, for Adobe and Apple, bridge the knowledge-gap, focusing on the key issues faced by photographers working within today’s digital workflow.

Edmond Terakopian, a London-based freelance press photographer, “Photographer Of The Year” at the British Press Awards 2006, will talk about his experiences as a photojournalist

Martin Johns, Epson UK product manager will provide insight into the developments Epson has planned for its range of large format printers.

Apple Solutions’ Experts Theatre

This theatre will provide a hands-on opportunity to try and to learn all about the powerful new Aperture 2 from Apple. The software features incredible tools for managing massive libraries, speeding through photo edits, making essential image adjustments, and delivering photos online and in print using one simple, integrated workflow. Sessions will be held on the hour across both days of the show
Adobe Theatre

The Adobe Theatre will run hourly presentations from some of the best Adobe presenters in the UK showing how Adobe strives to provide professional photographers with effective and elegant solutions to practical problems. The presenters include Robin Preston, and Jonathan Briggs who will provide all the latest tips and tricks for Photoshop CS3, Creative Suite CS3, and Lightroom.

The DPI Live Studio and Workflow Demos

These are presented in association with the ProCentre and Republik Agency.

This feature will provide a guided tour of how to prepare and manage a photo-shoot, then follow through to the subsequent stages of the production workflow. Using a Hasselblad H3D and Profoto lighting, the shots will be captured and then output to the latest Apple MacPro. The presenters will then take the images through the complete retouching process including colour management and then output the images to the latest HP Z series printer.


This professional photography show will be held at London Islington’s Business Design Centre on both Thursday 26th and Friday 27th June 2008 from 10:00 – 18:00.

Exhibitors include: Adobe, Apple Solutions’ Experts, BJP, BPPA, Canon, Colour Collective, CU, DataColor, Dreamtek, Epson, Hasselblad, HP, IDG, Image Reports, Nik Multimedia, Oki, onOne, Pantone, ProCentre, Rapid Group, Republik Agency, Shiraz, Skillset, SWPP, Vertus, Wacom, X-Rite…

The DPI Show will provide pro-photographers and the whole photographic industry with a knowledge-based event where they can attend to see and try the currently creative, the productively profitable and the just plain useful and interesting-to-know solutions and services in digital imaging.
DPI also features the BJP Conference Series that will showcase notable speakers and industry gurus presenting 90-minute sessions on the important topics that face the photographic market today. DPI’s busy seminar programme will present 40-minute sessions on the latest products and solutions for visitors to get first-hand expert advice and then visit the exhibition area for a more hands-on experience.


Photographic forum members on flickr

SWPP & BPPA Forum members have opened a flickr group on behalf of all members.

Member Mark Perry says ‘If there is one thing you get on flickr, that is exposure. If there is one thing that a photographer wants is for people to see and admire their work. I get pleasure from knowing people are getting pleasure from looking at my images, better than boxes of negs & slides that no one ever sees’. Further details can be found here:

SWPP and BPPA Thanks

Following receipt of your letter regarding Aaduki insurance, I”ve just saved over £70 on my renewal with them, simply by mentioning SWPP & BPPA.
It was a good week all round for me as a member – I also received a gold award for my competition entry too.  So thank you very much, your work on behalf of the membership is appreciated!
Sue Gilmore

Sarah Knights Photography

SWPP and BPPA member Sarah Knights Photography from Wiltshire now has an online exhibition

Featuring some of Sarah’s creative wedding and portraiture work.

Sarah has had a passion for photography for over 20 years and is qualified as a licentiate with both the SWPP and BIPP

She says ‘For weddings, I like to meet people before the day, preferably at the venue, to discuss everything in detail, face to face.Nothing is set in stone – I tailor everything to suit their tastes’

Spotlight on Salt Lake City Photographer Dave Newman

Legend social photographer Dave Newman has an online gallery on the SWPP web site. Featuring just some of his superb portrait work he is acknowledges as one of the leaders in the photographic industry with a long career as a professional photographer.

He is recognised for his superb posing and lighting techniques in tradition wedding and portraiture photography.

Dave will also be lecturing at the SWPP and BPPA 2009 January Convention in London

You can see his gallery at: