Monday, November 29, 2010

Buy prints, buy books, support photography


Photography in Britain desperately needs to be promoted in a slicker, visible and artistic way.

In this country the genre is far more unseen, unloved and under-valued than in more visual-thinking countries.

From the Japanese to the Yanks, the Germans and, of course, the culturally advanced Dutch, most other nations consume, enjoy and understand photography more than us.

When is comes to culture, and possibly this is not confined to just photography in the British Isles, us lot are a bit behind the clock.

Buying prints or buying photography books just isn't on the radar of the vast majority of our citizens.

Whether it's for yourself or for others, the industry needs an initiative which inspires people to buy photography - and does not preach only to itself.

There is an increasing interest in the consumer part of photography who are using sites like Snapfish, Pixum and Photobox to print mini-books of family images. I think this is an area which needs to be exploited, perhaps with online book retailers linking up with these sites so consumers can find photobooks more easily.

On-line publishing sites like Blurb and Lulu are almost unknown to photographically-challenged consumers (that is those who do not actively enjoy photography as art) and the bookshop areas of these sites are fairly appalling.

There are some great photobooks for sale on Blurb and Lulu's website but quite frankly it's too much of a challenge to find them.

For my part, all my family will be the proud recipients of photo books this year. I hope the images within them will take their breath away and inspire them to look at photography more closely.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

England this England or the EDL march through Preston

The English Defence League bring their own brand of entertainment to Preston.

Standing outside the Jazz Bar in Preston city centre at midday was like being outside a pub on the way to a football match. Noisy, loads of booze and not pleasant smelling.

The EDL are a group formed to oppose Sharia Law and Muslim extremism. I think it's fair to summarise their cause as being against jihadism and not Muslims in general. I have to say too often I heard the term 'Muslim' used in a way that did not make me enthusiastic about their cause.

If you look at members of the EDL you immediately think: racist football hooligan. This may be wrong but in an era where image is everything, this perception is unlikely to change unless the group's fashion does.

United Against Fascism held a demonstration at the same time as the EDL march just a few hundred metres away across the city. The two groups definitely do not shop in the same department store.

The plus points were that the march seemed to take place without any trouble. I saw nothing. The police, out in force, did an excellent job.

But I did witness a change of mood in the build-up to the short march. Friendly chat and smiles were replaced why what I can best describe as hysteria, fuelled by firework bangers and smoke bombs.

Most ironic moment of the day for me was meeting someone who used to live in the city, a self-confessed racist, who had travelled down from Carlisle to see the march - but was refusing to take part in it as he did not want to be negatively associated with the EDL. A racist worried about his public image? Where does that leave us?

A blogger called Banjaxer came up from Manchester to experience the demonstration and he makes some excellent points.

He said: "Sadly all I witnessed today was a mob, and mob is the correct word, of mostly young men with an obvious lack of understanding of  where they live. The country they all claim so loudly to love is not the country they think it is.

"In their small world England is under threat from what they mostly referred to as ‘Muslim c*nts’ or ‘paki b*st*rds’ who want to make us all follow ‘sharia laws’ and ‘blow us up to f*ck’.

"If any of them really think they have the support of anyone apart from a few poorly educated rejects from the Jeremy Kyle show with anger management issues, they are very much mistaken.

"All their best efforts at reasoned debate on the internet and elsewhere all fall apart when they get together and descend into a ranting, racist chanting, hoard of  hate filled hooligans.

"They need to educate themselves a bit more about the facts of immigration and assimilation; the history of the working class in Britain and our place in the world; the failings of fascism, national socialism and oppression of minorities in European history."

His full blog can be read here

This is Preston, this is the EDL:

[vimeo w=400&h=265]
EDL Preston November 27, 2010 from Garry Cook on Vimeo.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Hebden Bridge

In 2009 I travelled to Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire to do a photo essay and some interviews for a pilot magazine called Love Town.
These are the photographs I took that day.
The music is by the pseudo rock band One English Pound.

[vimeo w=400&h=265]
Hebden Bridge from Garry Cook on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Received photography - the video

She also asked for $990 - despie not knowing anything about me. Where I live. What I look like. Or even my full name. She says she still wants to share her life with me though.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

More Received photography

More Received photographs this week, this time from a delightful-looking lass named Irina.

The tone and sentiment in the email is very similar to those from Mash, Yuila and Becky (she has no kids, never been married and does not have regular access to a mobile phone or the internet).

The question I'm asking myself about the Russian scam mafia is: who is the girl in these images? Does she know her image is being used in some sort of email scam?

The worrying bit is she says she's going to book her flight from Moscow now - or at least as soon as I tell her the name of my nearest airport. Crikey, she is keen.

However, a quick search on the excellent Tin Eye reveals that a number of these images are available on several peculiar websites around the world.

What does this mean? It certainly makes me feel a little less guilty about posting these images. They are clearly not a genuine appeal for love (not that I'm looking for love like).
I have received three emails from Irina. Read this one (below) and then tell me if I'm having my emotions manipulated or if I should take a bunch of flowers to Leeds/Bradford Airport.

At first I think I have to say that I am new in cyber space and I have only good intentions. you should know that I am not very good writer in english,please be patient to read my messages and see many be fair I don't know what you want to know about me, in principle. 

First of all I wish to ask your full name, mine Irina Timerkhanowa. I am usual girl. I think I should tell you about me, my interests,tastes and hobbies.I think I will tell you about things I want to know about you and you will know my future questions. I am 25 years old, my birthday is 18 August  1985.

I so much don't want to get older ,when I can see old women I am getting crazy to think that it is my future .I do all the best to keep my youth and I keep my body well. In spite of all difficultes here I am trying to be in good condition and I do a lot of exercises to be in good shape!

I am about 172 cm tall (5.6) and my weight is about 56 kg. I've been told I look well enough, and I think that all women have own beaty. I have never been married and don't have kids but I love them and they love me!

I have one youngest sister and it is great problem for us because we have only two rooms can't imagine what does it mean to be born in small town in Russia,there are not any chances to live well,to get a good job.All young people leave towns to search great luck in big cities but nobody waits for them there. I want to leave Russia,I know it sounds ugly but I know that I will be lost here like many young girls before me.
It is not place to grow children and have stable future.

I want to meet my right man. I think in future I can work as fitness trainer I have a certificate. My mother is my great problem too,she has a great dream to see me married and she wants to make me happy but I think it is only my business I am not a little child. She tells me every day that I should get married very soon.

To be fair I am not sure I  am able to explain all in first message I want to say so much! I just want you to know that I am not afraid to work, I am fairly goal oriented and I am sure you will be not disappoined to meet me in real life.I am going to spend three months abroad to work in any good place,agency promises to help me because it is only the way I can leave Russia. I will have all documents to travel in a few days and i will travel to Moscow then,from Moscow I will travel to you and they ask me about name of the city i am going to work, if you don't mind to meet me please tell me the name of your city and nearest international airport! I will book my flight from Moscow!

I think  it would be so great to meet my love and stay there forever. I know that it is not so easy like I think but I think it is possible that I meat my real love. I want to love and to be loved I want to build our own happiness, only me and my man there.

I don't smoke,I tried to smoke when I was younger.I may have a glass of red dry vine,sometimes it helps to relax. I try to take care of my body and face. I know it is all I have. My soul may have any itnterst for you later, I thinkso.I am not a little girl and I know that at first almost all men look at body ,legs and face.God created males such persons. Well,I think I am lost in my letter,I am not sure you understand my goals,please feel free to ask.

I live in Russia! Region Sibiria, Irkutsk Oblast' (Area) in a small town Angarsk. My adress:
town Angarsk
Factory street 17, flat 42..

My city is really far from center of our country.Moscow and St Petersburg are located far from my place.
I would like to write if we understand interests of each other. If you understand my soul,my interests. If it is difficult read so long letters please let me know. I will write then shorter one.

I write from another city now. Name of this city is Irkutsk. The reason is we don't have internet cafe in my town. It is mean that it take me 1 hour to get in this city by bus. Please don't worry if i will answer you not so fast. I hope that you will understand me that it is difficult be in another city fast. I don't have private mobile phone.In our small town only 3 digital phones.This phones can use only for call inside Russia. If we have to call 
inside the country we have to order call through the operator. It's impossible to call abroad.

Russia really is very difficult country!!! Please write me about yourself. I have to know everything. Your interests,hobby and so on. The last one. I have several very important questions to you.
Do you like alcohol drinks? Do you drink it often? Have you been rude with women?

Well,I have to stop or I will write without ending. Kiss you !see you later. In my next e-mail I will write you more things about myself and more details about my trip and work.

Yours Irina

P.S. I should go in the Internet of cafe in other city,
therefore following time I shall write to you in a day, or two.

NOTE: To avoid any confusion, this woman is a scammer. See this page here.

NOTE TWO: Irina is also know as: Ekaterina Solovyeva, Karamelka, Irina Komelina, Diana, Ekaterina Razgonova, Elena Kashkova, Svetlana Kiselyova, Inna Lihachova, Irina Komelina, Marina Krestyaninova, Natalia Jurtikova, Natalia Yrtikov, Elena Sharina, Tatyana Kiseleva, Vnisy, Svetlana Startseva, Elena Ushakova, Irina Russkih, Tatyana Krestyaninova, Natalia Loskotova, Ekaterina Samaeva, Olga Bondareva, Daria Iskrinka, Daria Kleschevnikova, Daria Lebedeva, Natalia Andrianova, Irina Astah, Anna Kurshakova, Oksana Tkach, Elena Kiseleva, Natalia Orehova, Irina Shalagina, Maria Talanova, Elena Griaznova, Olga Vohmyakova, Lubov Kuznetsova, Ksenia Chercazianouva, Galina Scherstobitowa, Tatyana Gorbunowa, Valentina Semenchugowa, Valentina Simenchugouva, Elena Tyulkina, Julia, Natalia Denisowa, Irina Vdovichenko, Natalia Loskutova, Anastasia Belostotskaya, Elena Okuneva, Ludmila, Tatyana Shihmatova, Alina Sabitova, Marina Goloubinova, Marina Sirotina, Olga Zikova, Elena Voronina, Evgenia, Anna Wotintseva, Natalia Kalyonova, Elizaveta Onjanowa, Daria Sapichewa, Elena Prozorova, Anastasia Bambourina, Ekaterina Tsaregorodtseva.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Do you believe in Christmas? In Blackburn? In November?

FESTIVE ADVERTORIAL: Merry Christmas! by Garry Cook, a documentary photography project now in its second year. END OF FESTIVE ADVERTORIAL (thanks for your time).
Believe it not - and believe me - Christmas is here.
These four images were taken on November 18 in Blackburn in the build-up to their Christmas lights switch-on. It's actually the second Christmas event I have attended this year.
Both events, this and at Albert Square in Manchester last Friday, felt sadly un-festive. Thousands turned up for both events (well, nearly a thousand in Blackburn) but the lack of festive food stalls and family sideshow activities gave both openings a rather limp feeling. We've still got a long way behind Europe when it comes to putting the fun into festivals. Ho, Ho, No.
Still, Whalley, Garstang and Rawtenstall can still show them how it's done with their upcoming Chritsmas festivals.
NOTE: O���ne of these images ������(���c���o���n���t���a���i���n���s��� white ���b���a���l���l���o���o���n���s������)��� ������w���a���s��� ���t���a���k���e���n��� ���������by four-and-a-half���-���year���-���old Teddy Cook (his first ���i���m���a���g���e��� on this blog).

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Do you believe in Christmas? In Blackburn? In November?

FESTIVE ADVERTORIAL: Merry Christmas! by Garry Cook, a documentary photography project now in its second year. END OF FESTIVE ADVERTORIAL (thanks for your time).

Believe it not - and believe me - Christmas is here.

These four images were taken on November 18 in Blackburn in the build-up to their Christmas lights switch-on. It's actually the second Christmas event I have attended this year.

Both events, this and at Albert Square in Manchester last Friday, felt sadly un-festive. Thousands turned up for both events (well, nearly a thousand in Blackburn) but the lack of festive food stalls and family sideshow activities gave both openings a rather limp feeling. We've still got a long way behind Europe when it comes to putting the fun into festivals. Ho, Ho, No.

Still, Whalley, Garstang and Rawtenstall can still show them how it's done with their upcoming Chritsmas festivals.

NOTE: One of these images (contains white balloons) was taken by four-and-a-half-year-old Teddy Cook (his first image on this blog).

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Received photography

In the past week I have received several unexpected emails, accompanied by images. And in the interests of serious photographic discussion (Are you watching, BJP?), I include them below.

Found photography is quite a big thing these days. Books and exhibitions have been produced of these images that someone has, er, found. Simple as that. We don't know the history of them, yet they are still appealing.

Looking at these found images appeals to our sense of discovery - who doesn't dream of finding treasure? There is also the notion of looking back into history and an element of being nosey.

But these images dropping into my email inbox are something different. Part phishing-scam, part titillation, they are the bastard child of digital photography and the internet. Like Found photography, the history of these images are unknown. Is the lady in this image the same person actually writing the email? Highly unlikely - we will never know the real personality in these digital photographs.

I've Christened these images Received Photography. Hence forth, junk phishing mail with photo attachments of sexy women will be referred to in this way.

The brunette one. 
I obviously replied to Yulia straightaway, telling her how thrilled I was to hear from here. This is what she said:
I knew you would write to me. I had a strange feeling. =) 
I do not drink or smoke. I have never been married and I have no children. 
But I believe that I can find a serious and sincere man with whom I could build a serious relationship. I have a calm nature, I do not like to be nervous. Nerves are not restored.:) I hope that we can learn a lot of each other and our communication will be enjoyable for both of us. I hope the sincerity of your intentions towards me. 
I'm looking for a serious relationship, so I hope for reciprocity and understanding. I have many questions for you, because I want to know a lot of you. I'm curious to know a lot about your life, work and play. I would like to hear your voice. 
But last week, my phone was stolen. But you can leave me your phone number if you want. As soon as I have the opportunity, I'll call you. ok? Tell me. What do you like in women?

Take note of the bit about no drink, smoking, not being married or having children. And don't worry, I've not given Yulia my telephone number.

The blonde one. 
Masha sent me three photos and this is what she has to say for herself:
Somewhere inside my soul i think that i'm perfect, or almost perfect;-) 

I like to smile and make other people feel good with my shiny mood and exciting personality. I feel that it is better to smile at life rather than let the life smile at you. 

That is why I wake up every morning with a happy 
smile on my face and people watching me smile get a little ray of this sunshine with them. I want to charge that very special person in my life with some real warmth and light that is kept in my heart and is ready to be shared with the right man...

P.S: please write to me ONLY if you are prepared to a real friendship and are prepared to love (i.e., fully recovered from a previous relationship and are not attached to anyone). No time-wasters and players, please.

I live in Russia. I never travelled outside of Russia. Likely you heard about Russia. It is the biggest on the area the country and the richest on natural resources. Russia settles down from the East up to Europe and consequently the climate here is very various.

I do not smoke and I do not drink. I never tried any kind of drugs. I don't have tattoos. I healthy in general. I have an own apartment and I live one. My father and my mum lives near me in an own apartment. Now I don't have boyfriend and don't have any serious relations. I never be married and I don't have children.

Your friend Masha.

Masha also does not smoke, drink, has never been married and doesn't have any children. Do you think Yulia and Masha are actually sat next to each other in an illegal Ukrainian warehouse?

And finally there is Becky.

Becky was a bit more direct than Yulia and Masha. See what you think:

The girl in the santa hat.

Hey There . . Whats up?

I was just surfing the net and i found your profile, I Loved your pics so i have included a pic of myself. Based on what the site told me you are only 34 Miles from me :)

Becky also emailed gazcoigne, gazcol, gazgum, gazgentles, gazcobb, gazcooper... you get the idea.

She also sent a link to a suspicious dating site with her email.

More Received Photography coming soon. Subscribe or join the Long Lens Blog mailing list for updates. Many thanks to Anna Byrom* for her advisory role in the writing of this blog.

NOTE: I apologise to my regular readers for the sexual nature of this blog post.

NOTE TWO: I welcome my many new readers to the more feminine, sexier, Long Lens Blog.

*Anna Byrom is, as far as I know, not Russian.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Michelle Sank, IPA and the image that does no-one any favours

Here at the Long Lens blog, it’s not often I show other people’s photography, but I’m making an exception in Michelle Sank’s case. This is her photo of a man asleep in a park in Durban, South Africa.

Michelle Sank's award-winning IPA image

It’s not that I particularly want to criticise Sank’s award-winning photograph or the International Photography Award’s judges who made it their single image winner.<o:p></o:p>

I just feel that for photography as a whole, highlighting an image like this drives people away from the genre. 

And I’m talking specifically here about those who are not self-confessed photography fans, the people who our industry as a whole needs to attract.<o:p></o:p>

If the photographic die-hards struggle to come to terms with an image like this, what chance do those who are not image-savvy have?<o:p></o:p>

It’s these people who need to be invigorated by photography when they are exposed to it. Surely photography competitions are designed to generate interested in photography and encourage people to attended exhibitions and buy books.<o:p></o:p>

This image of a sleeping man with loaf of bread adjacent to his head is about as inspiring as a warm, wet toilet seat.<o:p></o:p>

Magnum London’s archive manager Nick Galvin was one of the IPA judges.<o:p></o:p>

He defended the Sank’s image as having ‘subtle qualities’ and ‘does not give up an easy answer’.<o:p></o:p>

But he also states that he is ‘not saying it is the best image in the world’ and ‘that ‘possibly it has nothing profound to say about the world beyond that the fact the photographer took a picture of a man who was using a bag of bread to shield his face as he slept<o:p></o:p>

Mmmm. Makes me want to scream.<o:p></o:p>

I do think I’m on dodgy ground criticising other people’s photographs, especially one that has won a major award (when my greatest achievement is being on the short-list for the Travel Photographer of the Year awards and interviewing Fred Phelps).<o:p></o:p>

But surely all these judges, editors and curators have a responsibility to show off the work of this under-pressure industry at it’s very best. At all times.<o:p></o:p>

Merry Christmas.<o:p></o:p>

Monday, November 08, 2010

Halloween (or is it Hallowe'en?)

ABOVE: Haunted House, Tatton Park.

Scare, Mrs Dowson's Farm, A59 near Balckburn.